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 20, 2011


Anibal Ramos, Director

Essex County Department of Citizen Services

18 Rector Street, Floor 9

Newark, NJ, 07102


Re: Step III  Class Action Contractual Grievance

       Earthquake Response

       Article I. Purpose

       Article VII. Discipline

       Article XXV. Non-Discrimination

       Article XLIX. Safety of Staff


Dear Mr. Ramos:


CWA Local 1081 submits this Step III Class Action Contractual Grievance on behalf of our members assigned to the three buildings utilized by the Essex County Division of Welfare: the privately-owned 18 Rector Street, Newark site; the County-owned 50 South Clinton Street, East Orange site and the County owned Hall of Records, Newark site.

As you are quite aware, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck on August 23, 2011 within central Virginia that was felt within New Jersey and beyond. As reported within the August 24, 2011 edition of The Star Ledger, "local phone networks were jammed, tremors set off fire alarms in buildings, flights were delayed at Newark Liberty and JFK airports so runways could be inspected, the Holland Tunnel closed for a half-hour and officials in New Jersey cities evacuated high-rises and inspected bridges".

Within the abovementioned Division of Welfare sites, the following occurred:

1.      No updated evacuation plans were in effect, and none were effectuated. Employees and clients alike were left to fend for themselves how best to exit the buildings.

2.      Handicapped employees and clients alike were forced to rely upon the good graces of others within the sites to safely evacuate and, within at least one of the 18 Rector Street offices, the devise to evacuate the handicapped was reportedly  disconnected and therefore not operable.

3.      No alarms were sounded within the buildings to alert the occupants they should immediately exit, and the telephone intercoms were not used by either the building owner's operatives or by agency managers. In fact, the Star Ledger reported that "in Essex County, Newark City Hall was the only municipal building that conducted an evacuation due to the earthquake, according to Sheriff Armando Fontoura".

4.      It has been reported to CWA Local 1081 that a number of our members will be docked for having left work early yesterday in shock and fear for their safety, if not lives. Yet, it was also reported within today's edition of The Star Ledger that after the earthquake occurred "State employees in the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Senior Services were allowed to leave work early after their building was evacuated".

CWA Local 1081 is fully cognizant of the fact that such seismic activity within New Jersey and its East Coast environs is unusual.  We are aware, as was reported within the New York Times, that the central Virginia "area has frequent small earthquakes; the largest previously recorded there was a magnitude 4.8 in 1875. The last big quake in the East, with a magnitude of 5.8, was in 1944 in Massena, N.Y." However, with of the apparent weather anomalies that have occurred just since this year including the Australian, Brazilian, South African and Sri Lankan floods in January, the New Zealand earthquake (and re-flooding in Sri Lanka) in February and the massive Japanese earthquake and tsunami  in March (to name but a few), New Jersey the endured a huge hurricane bearing down upon us later that week. It is, therefore, imperative the government of the County of Essex and the management of its Division of Welfare become much better prepared for natural disasters.

The resolution CWA Local 1081 respectfully demands to this grievance consists of the following:


  1. The County shall immediately update our agency's emergency evacuation plans.
  2. The County shall immediately conduct emergency evacuation drills within our agency's three offices.
  3. The County shall absolve any of CWA Local 1081's members whom were charged time for having left their respective office yesterday after the earthquake.


We seek a hearing in this regard.





David H. Weiner, President

CWA Local 1081