Director New Jersey Civil Service Commission
Division of Local Human Resource Management
PO Box 313 Trenton, NJ 08625
Dear Mr. Connolly:
I am a Union Representative representing Bergen County Blue Collar employees on behalf of the United Service Workers Union Local 655 ("Union").
You recently received a letter from the County of Bergen dated April 25, 2011 requesting a layoff of Juvenile Detention Officers and other employees currently employed at the Bergen County Juvenile Detention Center located in Paramus, NJ.
We respectfully request that you and/or the Civil Service Commission do not approve this requested layoff.
The Union has been party to discussions over the last few years regarding the building of a new Juvenile Detention Center in Teterboro, NJ and closing the Paramus, NJ location. There is currently a building being built in Teterboro that should be ready to occupy either this year or early next year. We were advised by the previous County Administration and the current County Administration, that there would be no transition issues, and the employees would simply move from the Paramus building to the Teterboro building when it was ready…no layoff planned or intended.
Now, we receive a copy of the April 25, 2011 letter sent to you by Ralph W. Kornfeld, Director of Personnel, claiming the County is closing the Paramus facility and wishes to layoff the employees indefinitely due to such closing. This is simply not factual. The County has every intention of staying in the Juvenile Detention business and are building a new building which will soon be ready for occupation by Juveniles and staff in the very near future.
When the Union was copied on the April 25, 2011 layoff request letter, we asked many questions of the Administration such as, "Why does the County feel it is necessary to close the current building and layoff employees before the new building is ready? What happened to the original plan of a seamless transition of the employees from Building A to Building B? What will happen to the Juveniles currently housed in the Paramus building? Where will they go? What will happen to the employees’ wages, benefits, and pensions should they be layed off this way?"
To our astonishment, the County, should they get approval from your office and the Civil Service Commission to layoff these employees, feels they will be "rehiring" them at the new facility, meaning and I cite one of their answers, "Employees who return to the same Employer and/or job will not necessarily receive the same rate of payment when and if they return. "
Mr. Connolly, the simple transfer of employees from one building to another is not a "layoff" as the County is falsely claiming and requesting it to be. If any of this falls under the umbrella of "layoff" at all, it would certainly be a "temporary layoff". However, let’s call this what it is, a guise to use the Civil Service Commission to unjustly layoff 13 or more employees, thus putting them and the Juveniles they care for through untold hardships for the months to come while they await the opening of the new building. Then, when the new building is ready, the County if they so choose, may re-hire the employees as if they are new hires at the new facility, thus stripping them of wages, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment that the affected employees have worked for and earned through collective bargaining over the last several years to decades.
It is also worthy of mention that the closing of building A pending the occupation of building B poses a number of legal issues regarding the Juvenile clientele currently housed by the County. It is our understanding that the County does not yet even have approval of the New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission to temporarily move the Juveniles to another County in this manner.
With all of the aforementioned to consider, we once again respectfully request and outright plead with you and the Civil Service Commission to not be fooled by the County’s actions in this matter and deny the County’s request to layoff the Juvenile Detention Center employees.
Should you have any questions of me, kindly contact me at the enclosed number.
c: Kevin E. Boyle, Jr.; Jim Gangale; Local 655; Local 755; Kathe Donovan; Ed Trawinski; Ralph Kornfeld