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 17, 2015

Jeanette Page-Hawkins, Acting Director

Essex County Division of Welfare

18 Rector Street, Floor 9

Newark, NJ, 07102

Re: Step II Class Action Contractual Grievance

Proposed Use of CWEP Clients as Office Greeters

Article I. Purpose

Article II. Recognition

Article XV. Classification & Other Salary Adjustments

Article XXV. Non-Discrimination

Dear Ms. Page-Hawkins:

CWA Local 1081 submits this Step II Class Action Contractual Grievance to protest the management of the Essex County of Welfare actually considering having our agency utilize a total of ten (10) CWEP (Community Work Experience Program) welfare recipients as “greeters” for the agency’s offices as was ostensibly discussed during your September 9, 2015 senior staff meeting:

1. Despite your alleged assertion that the selected clients would not have any access to confidential information, the mere fact that these CWEP clients will be seeking to assist their counterparts would logically have to minimally entail the CWEP clients becoming aware of the names of the clients they would be “greeting”, if not the clients’ agency identification numbers as well.

2. Were the CWEP clients not to be allowed knowledge of the names and/or agency identification numbers of the clients they are greeting, what exactly would the duties of the CWEP clients’ greetings include? Would they merely say “Hello, welcome to the Essex County Division of Welfare”? Perhaps they’ll add, “Putting Essex First”.

3. Having oft stood within the outside elements for intolerable periods of time just to gain access to the agency’s buildings, and then even more time waiting within the reception areas, hallways and stairwells of the offices merely to be seen by a Family Service Worker due to our agency’s severe shortage of staff, such harrowing experiences imposed upon our clients then being followed by their being “greeted” by the CWEP clients very well may result in considerable contention between the societal counterparts as the CWEP clients would not be able to investigate the status of their counterparts’ cases in order to truly assist them.

4. The purportedly proposed two days of customer training to be provided the CWEP clients would not, by any means, properly prepare them for their at this time proposed nebulous tasks.

5. Article II. Recognition of CWA Local 1081’s contracts with the County of Essex delineates the titles of employees represented by our Union. CWEP clients are not included.

6. The cynical concept you have supposedly proposed represents a terribly transparent attempt to pad the paltry number of agency employees with CWEP clients that is doomed to failure before its even implemented.

7. CWEP is supposed to be utilized to provide work and training to enable the recipient to adjust to, and learn how to function within, an employment setting. A proposal to utilize CWEP clients as greeters within our public agency’s offices will prepare them for, at best, minimum wage greeter jobs at such disreputable denizens of the private sector as Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart’s low-wage workers cost U.S. taxpayers an estimated $6.2 billion in public assistance including food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing, according to a report published to coincide with Tax Day, April 15 in 2014 in Forbes Magazine.

As the resolution to this grievance, CWA Local 1081 respectfully requests you reconsider your position and abandon any ruse to augment the staffing of the Essex County Division of Welfare with CWEP client greeters. Instead, the County should be hiring a sufficient number of actual agency employees so as to optimally provide the much-needed social services to which our clients are legally, and morally, entitled.

We seek a hearing in this regard.

Yours truly,

David H. Weiner, President

CWA Local 1081

CWA Local 1081