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

January 21, 2016

Jeanette Page-Hawkins, Director

Essex County Division of Welfare

18 Rector Street, Floor 9

Newark, NJ, 07102

Re: Step II Class Action Contractual Grievance

Monthly Administrative Day

Article I. Purpose

Article VII. Discipline

Article XXV. Non-Discrimination

Article XXX. Work Distribution and Practices

Article XLIX. Safety of Staff

Dear Ms. Page-Hawkins:

CWA Local 1081 submits this Step II Class Action Contractual Grievance on behalf of all of our Union’s members to protest your unilateral and injudicious decree that the Essex County Division of Welfare close the third Thursday of each month for what you have euphemistically designated a “Monthly Administrative Day”, as per your attached memorandum of January 4, 2016:

1. Today, as per your attached email memorandum sent “All Essex County Employees” at 11:51 AM, the State’s UAP computer IT system has been down thereby rendering our Union’s members unable to input their clients’ cases that have been designated for processing. The all-day failure of the State’s IT platform is not, of course, your responsibility but it is unfortunately an all too frequent event that should have been anticipated and for which a back-up plan should have been devised.

2. The third Thursday of every month is the day before “closing”, which is the last day of the month that clients’ cases may be put onto the IT system.

3. Unprocessed clients’ cases that don’t make the system will result in scores of clients deluging the agency’s offices when they discover that their benefits have not been activated, of renewed. For example, the Westside office (located upon the third floor of 18 Rector Street, Newark site which is our agency’s only TANF office) has five-hundred (500) TANF cases now languishing within your Case Banking “bank” that will not today be processed in time for closing.

4. Rather than notify clients via the mail to their homes, you have relied upon positing the monthly third Thursday closings on the agency’s walls and have had employees handing the clients flyers notifying their clients of the closings. Have you put into place a system to monitor the numbers, and identities, of the clients who come to the agency on the third Thursday of each month (now within the freezing cold) whom are not allowed into the agency to be serviced?

5. While you have memorialized a memorandum asserting that clients have access to an agency telephone number to call in case they experience an “emergency”, you have not indicated for the edification of the agency’s employees (or for their Unions) whom will service their emergency needs that occur upon a Monthly Administrative Day.

6. Have you obtained permission from the New Jersey Division of Family Development (the agency overseeing all of our State’s county welfare agencies and for which, until April 3, 2015, you had served as its Director for the previous twelve years) to close the Essex County Division of Welfare to clients for the third Thursday of each month?

7. Has the Federal government, in particular the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which oversees and funds the SNAP (Food Stamp) program, been notified of our agency’s closing for a “Monthly Administrative Day” and have they approved this concept?

8. Our agency has only a few times reached the minimum staffing quotas required by the annual Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Essex County has entered with the New Jersey Department of Human Services since 1999 (this in response to former Essex County Executive James Treffinger having diverted a total of $15 million of TANF administrative funding into his general County budget which has without explanation risen to $22.777 million over the last couple of years and which is supposed to be repaid to the State within the County’s fiscal year). Therefore, our agency’s staffing levels are disastrously deficient and have exacerbated the struggles our Union’s members have experienced attempting mightily to provide their clients their legally requisite benefits.

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

1. The County shall hire and maintain, at the very least, the minimum number of employees required by the aforementioned MOU’s.

2. The County shall abandon the “Monthly Administrative Day” and instead deploy sufficient numbers of staff to concurrently take, and process, clients’ applications and renewals.

3. The County shall abandon the Case Banking system and return to “One Client, One Worker” system which for decades served our agency, and its clients, so well.


David H. Weiner, President, CWA Local 1081