CWA Local 1081
60 Park Place, Suite 501
Newark, NJ, 07102
Office (973) 623-1081
Fax: (732) 988-1081

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Newark Teachers Union

New Jersey Citizen Action Oil Group

September 11, 2009


Hon. Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr.

Essex County Executive

Hall of Records, Room 405

465 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.

Newark, NJ, 07102


Re: OPRA Request Response

      Salary Increases for Non-Union Represented County Employees


Dear Mr. DiVincenzo:


As you will please recall, CWA Local 1081 submitted to the County of Essex an OPRA (Open Public Records Act) request on September 4, 2009, as was delineated within our Union’s letter written you that same date in that same regard, requesting “a copy of all documents within the Administration’s possession regarding any salary increases provided any member(s) of your Administration, and/or Constitutional, Elections and Statutory employees, subsequent to July 2008”.


CWA Local 1081 retrieved the County’s response to our OPRA request on September 10, 2009, at a cost of $10.50, and our review has resulted in our rendering herein revelations and queries regarding the rejoinder.


As you no doubt recall, The Star Ledger article of August 28, 2009 entitled “Executive defends hiring of golf course chief” begins with the paragraph “Joseph DiVincenzo Jr., the Essex County executive, took a get-tough stance in putting together this year's $693 million budget as the economy swirled into a tailspin. He turned to layoffs, furloughs and a hiring and wage freeze”.


CWA Local 1081, then, considering the fact you reneged upon our contract and then demanded our Union’s members accept a paltry 3% raise over the course of three years instead of the equitable sum we mutually negotiated, respectfully requests you provide our Union an explanation for the following pay raises provided non-Union represented employees of the County of Essex:


  1. Terriann Moore-Abrams, Esq., Assistant County Counsel Section Chief, whose salary was increase effective January 1, 2009 to $85,000.
  2. Ferdinando Pugliese, Esq., Assistant County Counsel, whose salary was increased effective February 11, 2009 by $2,140 to $66,000 by 4%.
  3. David Boyd, Confidential Assistant and former Essex Fells Councilman, whose salary increased effective July 1, 2008 by $5,118 to $98,000 by 6%.
  4. Dennis Hughes, Confidential Assistant, whose salary increased effective September 15, 2008 by $5,000 to $65,255 by 8%.
  5. Lee Medina, Clerk Typist, whose salary increased effective September 22, 2008 to the maximum by $1,820 to $39,877 by 5%.


As the reasonable and responsible Labor organization our Union is, we can comprehend your Administration’s assertion that the following salary increases were afforded the following non-Union County employees due to their having been promoted or having apparently assumed additional responsibilities even if the respective percentages appear askew:


  1. William Payne, Deputy Chief of Staff/Confidential Assistant, whose salary was increased effective September 15, 2008 by $14,372 to $95,000 by 18%.
  2. Bruce Nigro, Essex County Division of Welfare Director, whose salary increased effective September 15, 2008 by $4,000 to $108,000 by 4% and then the equivalent of another $2,286 in 2009 to $110,872 by 2%.
  3. Samuel Okparaeke, WIB Executive Director, whose salary was increased effective September 15, 2008 to $73,000.
  4. Benjamin Amos, Division Director, whose salary was increased effective September 15, 2009 by $5,046 to $73,000 by nearly 8%.


Our Union comprehends as well the fact that certain non-Administrative, or Constitutional, employees of the County received salary increases this year as the result of legislation passed to primarily benefit New Jersey’s state judges:


  1. Joseph Brennan, Jr., Surrogate, whose salary increased effective January 1, 2009 by $5,200 from $102,050 to $107,240 by 5%.
  2. Christopher Durkin, County Clerk, whose salary increased effective January 1, 2009 by $5,200 to $107,250 by 5%.
  3. Carole A. Graves, County Registrar, whose salary increased effective January 1, 2009 by $5,200 to $107,250 by 5%.


Lest you or anyone else reading this missive misunderstand, our Union’s intent is to criticize neither the quality nor quantity of the work produced by the above cited non-Union represented County employees. CWA Local 1081 has worked cooperatively and constructively with all of them with whom we’ve enjoyed the pleasure of interacting professionally (even Mr. Nigro…mostly). In fact, considering the respective workloads Essex County employees carry compared to their other counties’ counterparts, our Union muscularly maintains we are all unusually underpaid, including you.


CWA Local 1081 merely seeks you provide our Union, and its hard working and dedicated members, a cogent justification for the apparent provision of salary increases for some employees within your Administration while our members have worked without salary increases for nearly two years.


Our Union thanks you, in advance, for your anticipated expeditious cooperation with this most sincere supplication.


Yours truly,



David H. Weiner, President

CWA Local 1081