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

August 29, 2008

Bruce Nigro, Director

Essex County Division of Welfare

18 Rector Street, Floor 9

Newark, NJ, 07102

Re: Statistical Reports’ Revelations

Dear Mr. Nigro:

As you are quite well aware, CWA Local 1081 has stalwartly stated our considerable consternation with the seriously scarce staffing levels that have existed within the Essex County Division of Welfare. To exacerbate matters, the anemic economic conditions of our nation, our state and our region have only served to increase our agency’s caseloads while the County’s pace of hiring staff has failed to keep abreast. In order to underscore our point, our Union cites the following facts gleaned from the memorandum of August 25, 2008, entitled “Statistical Reports”, written Essex County Department of Citizen Services Director Anibal Ramos by you:

* As caseloads increase and staffing remains the same, we will face additional challenges servicing clients timely.
* The agency is servicing approximately 1400 clients per day, and most likely has more client volume than most public agencies within New Jersey.
* Emergency Assistance caseload, and client flow, has virtually doubled within the past year.
* The TANF caseload…has increased from 8509 in April 2008 to 8760 in June 2008.
* The NPA FS caseload totals of 25,600 cases, an increase of 11% since January 2006 and the GA caseload has doubled since we assumed the responsibility for Newark’s GA on July 1, 2008.
* The trend in TANF/NPA FS caseloads increased from 33,429 in April 2008 to 34,331 in June 2008.
* The above numbers do not take into consideration Child Support activities, Investigation, EBT Unit activities and other smaller units.
* The Medicaid caseloads total over 46,000 and have increased by 33% since January 2006 and, based upon available staffing, we no longer are maintaining currency with all Medicaid work.
* The average number of clients visiting our agency monthly has gone from 21,347 in 2001 to 27,080 within the first six months of 2008. The data translates into an average of 4723 clients per month for each office, 225 clients per day per office, or about 1125 clients per day for the agency yielding an average of approximately 6.86 clients per worker, per day.
* As a direct result of the above, there has been a 7% decrease in the percentage of re-determinations certified times, a 2% increase in the percentage of re-determinations not processed, a 2% increase of the amount of re-determinations returned in the mail and a 3% increase in the percentage of no responses.
* There has been a decrease in filed contact with clients since April 2008, from 2018 in April 2008 to 1117 in June 2008.

Despite the above cited recounting of sociological revulsion, the Administration of the County of Essex continues to ignore the plight of its poor and the dedicated employees who service them under the most trying of circumstances. Not alone within our perilous plight, the Essex County Department of Economic Development, Training and Employment has a client placement rate that is forty percent below the federal mandate. Instead of paying heed to such extreme human need, an inordinate amount of financial and human resources are instead dedicated to such relatively mundane matters as the County’s parks and its zoo.

Meanwhile, the members of CWA Local 1081 are daily tormented by an Automated Time and Attendance Program that does not work and silly work rules regarding clothing such as capris pants, this as they and all of the other Union-represented employees of the County languish without a contract and pay increases while nearly every aspect of their cost of living escalates.

To paraphrase John Dryden (August 19 [O.S. August 9] 1631–May 12 [O.S. May 1] 1700), the influential English poet, literary critic, translator and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England, "Beware the fury of a patient Union!"


David H. Weiner, President

CWA Local 1081