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

March 13, 2014

Sharon Butler, Director

Essex County Division of Welfare

18 Rector Street, Floor 9

Newark, NJ, 07102

Re: Step II Class Action Contractual Grievance

Dearth of Medicaid Employees and Physical Plant Capacity

Article I. Purpose

Article VII. Discipline

Article XXV. Non-Discrimination

Article XLIX. Safety of Staff

Dear Ms. Butler:

CWA Local 1081 submits this Step II Class Action Contractual Grievance on behalf of our applicable members assigned to the Office of Medicaid (OMS), located upon the tenth floor of the privately-owned 18 Rector Street/10 Park Place, Newark building, to protest the discernibly and disturbingly dearth of both staff and physical plant capacity within the OMS.

As you are all too aware, our Union had previously grieved the existence of more than 90,000 overdue Medicaid redeterminations that had, as of relatively recent, existed within the OMS. Utilizing overtime, and imposing even more responsibilities upon our members assigned to the OMS, that backlog of cases has been significantly reduced but not entirely eradicated.

As you are also well aware, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or "Obamacare", is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. The ACA consists of a combination of measures to control healthcare costs, and an expansion of coverage, through public and private insurance: broader Medicaid eligibility and Medicare coverage, and subsidized, regulated private insurance.

Attached, please find the article published within the March 11, 2014 editions of The Star Ledger entitled "NJ Obamacare enrollments now at 74 K, feds say", wherein it is cited that "Less (sic) than three weeks before the deadline for Americans to get health insurance, federal officials reported another 20,000 New Jersey residents have signed up for policies via the Obamacare website." "On the Medicaid front, an additional 16,000 signed up, bringing the total for the expanded program to 123,000." "The number of New Jerseyans who have joined the state’s expanded Medicaid program is undoubtedly larger than the number cited by Washington, said Joel Cantor, director of the Center for State Health Policy at Rutgers University. People can enroll in Medicaid directly, without going to the federal website, he said. In addition, they will be able to enroll throughout the year."

While CWA Local 1081 has always strenuously supported the ACA, our Union has long memorialized our considerable concerns regarding the Essex County Division of Welfare's paltry preparations to accommodate its existing Medicaid client population which has only proved (as we presciently predicted) to have been exacerbated by the implementation of the ACA. Simply stated, the OMS possesses neither the sufficient numbers of staff nor the physical plant capacity to accommodate its clientele.

According to statistics compiled by Ray Castro, the Senior Policy Analyst for the esteemed non-profit organization New Jersey Policy Perspective, there has been a thirty percent (30%) increase in Medicaid applications statewide since the inception of the ACA. Mr. Castro has also noted that between December 2013 and February 2014 there has been an increase of 181,636 Medicaid cases within New Jersey, with 8,810 of that number serviced by the Essex County Division of Welfare. Our agency, by far, services the greatest number of Medicaid cases than any of New Jersey's twenty other county welfare agencies. However, our staffing within the OMS has not increased since the inception of the ACA and neither has the office's physical space capacity been augmented.

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

1. The County of Essex shall hire an additional number of employees sufficient to service both the current numbers of clients of the OMS as well as the numbers of clients anticipated to increase over time.

2. The County of Essex shall utilize space available upon other floors of the 18 Rector Street/10 Park Place, Newark building, such as the Riverview Office of the fourth floor and/or the Office of Special Services on the fifth floor, wherein to transfer the requisite number of employees from the OMS to optimally service their Medicaid recipient clients and thus relieve the overcrowding of clients upon the tenth floor.

3. The County of Essex shall honor the staffing requirements of its annually entered Memorandum of Understanding (of some fourteen years) with the New Jersey Department of Human Services whereby the latter has "loaned" the former the $15 million former Essex County Executive James Treffinger was allowed to divert by former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, between the years 1999 and 2000, from funding intended for staffing for the Essex County Division of Welfare to the County's general treasury in order to allow Mr. Treffinger to keep his unrealistic political promise not to raise County taxes.

We seek a hearing in this regard.


David H. Weiner, President,

CWA Local 1081