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

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Newark Teachers Union

New Jersey Citizen Action Oil Group

February 21, 2009


Anibal Ramos, Director

Essex County Department of Citizen Services

18 Rector Street, Floor 9

Newark, NJ, 07102


Re: Step III Class Action Contractual Grievance

       Utilization of Newark GA Funding

       Article I. Purpose

       Article XXV. Non-Discrimination

       Article XXX. Work Distribution and Practices

       Article XLIX. Safety of Staff


Dear Mr. Ramos:

CWA Local 1081 submits this Step III Class Action Contractual Grievance, on behalf of all of our adversely affected and potentially adversely affected members employed by the Essex County Division of Welfare, to protest the insufficient utilization of the funding the County of Essex receives from the State of New Jersey to administer the General Assistance (GA) program formerly administered by the City of Newark until July 1, 2008.

According to the article published within the June 12, 2008 edition of the Star Ledger, entitled “Newark welfare services transferred to county”:

Effective July 1, 2008 the Newark Municipal Welfare General Assistance Program will be transferred to the County of Essex. As a result, beginning Friday, those applying for general assistance must report to the Essex County Division of Welfare located at 18 Rector St. Cases will now be handled through the Food Stamp Office, 50 South Clinton St., 1st Floor, East Orange. Also effective Friday, participants will no longer receive checks for cash benefits. Instead, benefits will be given using the Family First Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card from the Essex County Division of Welfare.


Since the Essex County Division of Welfare involuntarily assumed the onerous responsibility of administering the GA program for Newark’s residents, the County has not hired, or deployed, sufficient numbers of personnel to service the clients thus not fully utilizing the $2.4 million of annual funding provided by the State of New Jersey as stipulated. The results have proved long lines of people streaming down the sidewalk outside of the County-owned South Clinton Street, East Orange site waiting in the cold to be seen (see attached photographs); clients’ cases not being processed in a timely fashion as required by law; excruciating and debilitating stress upon the employees of the Division of Welfare valiantly attempting to service the clients and considerable contention between clients and workers and between clients and clients.


Within our Union’s attached Step II Class Action Contractual Grievance of January 29, 2009, CWA Local 1081 reminded Director Nigro that our Union similarly passionately protested several years ago when the County assumed the East Orange GA program, along with more than $700,000 annually from the State to run it, when the County similarly did not hire and deploy sufficient numbers of employees to administer that program. This time, despite assurances to our Union from the County it would act differently, and responsibly, history has regrettably repeated itself with the County’s assumption of the Newark GA program.


Unfortunately, Mr. Nigro’s attached Step II Class Action Contractual Grievance response of February 13, 2009 relies upon two specious arguments to deny our objection. The facts are as follows:


  1. The above cited contractual articles absolutely render this matter one that may “be grieved under the terms and conditions of the contract”.
  2. Our Union suffers no “misconception about the expenditures and reimbursement of the General Assistance Program” and we certainly do possess more than a mere “understanding of the method utilized to report costs and obtain reimbursement from the state”. Based upon an audit conducted by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the federal government on September 10, 2008 published a report which found that, “In Essex County, we identified 42 employees whose payroll costs totaling almost $515,000 were not charged to the work unit for which they performed activities” and that the Essex County Division of Welfare “did not adhere to approved methods when payroll costs were allocated to the FSP (Food Stamp Program)”.

As the resolution to this grievance, CWA Local 1081 reiterates our demand for the following:

1.      The County shall provide our Union a detailed delineation of all funds received from the State, to date, to assume and run the Newark GA program.

2.      The County shall provide our Union a detailed delineation of how those funds have been dedicated, to date.

3.      The County shall immediately hire, and deploy, sufficient numbers of employees to service the needs of the Newark GA client population.

We seek a hearing, in this regard.




David H. Weiner, President

CWA Local 1081