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County Employees Ask Freeholders For Better Raise

Employees pack freeholder meeting over unresolved contract

Saying their members are struggling to pay their mortgages and feed their families, county employees asked the Ocean County Board of Freeholders to give them "a fair raise," at the freeholders' meeting in Toms River on Wednesday.

"This is a great county to live in," said Tom Weipz of Bayville, a member of the contract negotiating team for the Communication Workers of America Local 1038, which represents employees in the county's parks, security and roads departments. "We all work hard. But we have members who are falling behind on their mortgages. We have members who are working two and even three jobs.

"We're here to ask for a raise. Not an astronomical amount, but a fair raise," Weipz said.

The contract with the union, which represents 450 county employees, expired  March 31, 2011, county administrator Carl Block said. A contract proposal was voted on and rejected by the union's members, and is now in the fact-finding stages, Block said. The fact-finder is set to meet with representatives of the union and the county on Oct. 31, he said.

The county has offered a raise of 1.5 percent per year for three years, but Bob Baxter, a shop steward in the security department, said that raise amounts to 25 cents per hour, while at the same time employees are being asked to make significant give-backs on health insurance and other benefits.

"We know the economy is bad," Baxter said, but county employees are going backward financially, he and others said.

Shawn Ludwig, local bargaining unit vice president with CWA, said the employees "understand the economic conditions.

"We're not looking for a big fight," Ludwig said. "Take a look at these men and women who serve the county proudly. We're stuck at a number that doesn't work for anyone."

The freeholders replied with praise for the work and the commitment of the employees, but noted the economic situation combined with the state-imposed 2 percent cap on budget growth has put the county between a rock and a hard place.

"We are struggling with these issues," Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little said.

Freeholder John Bartlett, liaison to the parks department, noted that while the 1.5 percent offered was modest, it was the same amount agreed to by the county's other unions. 

Bartlett also said even a small increase for county employees draws the ire of taxpayers.

Some people have criticized county officials, Bartlett said, for choosing to reduce the workforce through attrition rather than layoffs.

"We've cut 200 jobs," Bartlett said, "but I have had people ask me, 'How many did you fire?' When I said none, the response was, 'then you didn't cut jobs.' "

"So, yes, you haven’t been offered a generous contract," Bartlett said. "We don’t have the money to do that.  ... Many of you if not all of you have gone backward in your take-home pay. But you have the commitment from this board of freeholders that you will have a job tomorrow and that paycheck won't bounce."

After the meeting, Block said the 2 percent cap is a serious constraint, noting that if the county were to give every employee a 2 percent raise, it doesn't leave much if any room for other areas of the budget to increase.

"Gas prices this year are a great example," he said.

The decline in property values in the county has cost it $10 billion in ratables, which negatively impacts revenue from property taxes, Block said, and that money doesn't get replaced. Lost revenue makes it difficult to afford to do anything, he said.

"They have a hard job and we know that," Weipz said after the meeting.

"This is just about trying to get working-class people a little more money," Ludwig said.

Cardinal October 18, 2012 at 04:16 PM
Yeah, just find another job because the Tea Partiers don't think government is at all necessary, what you guys are doing is just sitting at desks & after all who needs to have the garbage picked up, & who needs someone to monitor the air & water to make sure it's safe & who needs people to plow snow from the streets & who needs people to place navigational markers in the water to guide boaters safely & who needs people to check bridges to make sure that they don't fall down & who needs building inspectors to make sure buildings are safe & who needs teachers & who needs health inspectors to check on sanitary conditions in restaurants & who needs police for public safety & who needs people to guard convicts & who needs to make sure ex-cons stay crime free & who needs engineers to keep roads safe, who needs home health aides to keep the elderly safe, etc.
proud October 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
I agree that less layers of Government should be part of an overhaul of taxpayer funded employment in New Jersey.
proud October 18, 2012 at 07:02 PM
And, who needs high paid administrators in every single municipality that perform the same duties as their peers in neighboring municipalities? And, who needs money grubbing unions that get sweetheart contracts by the likes of Jon Corzine to buy their vote? And , who needs a Civil Service system that not only protects, but rewards the inept and corrupt?...
TRWatch October 18, 2012 at 07:57 PM
Anytime Bartlett opens his mouth I want to vomit.
Joe October 18, 2012 at 09:49 PM
The upper management in the sheriff's dept. did quite well. You have to wonder why those making the big money got the biggest raises......sign me one who knows for sure
Keeping whats mine October 18, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Fire them all and hire the jobless, they will appreciate what they have. Dont live over what you have. I really do not care, im retired.
Irina October 18, 2012 at 11:57 PM
If I was you instead of whinning on a blog I'd be sitting with a lawyer. They are in violation of the ADA and possibly many more acts.
former October 18, 2012 at 11:57 PM
just so you know not all of us that got jobs and lost our jobs are based off who you konw. I got my job because i was skilled with the knowledge of the job requirments listed by civil service.. But yes some do know people and get the job that way and it isn't always right because they may not be skilled for that job....
Irina October 18, 2012 at 11:59 PM
PS...Don't hire an attorney "jack of all trades, master of none" get someone who deals exclusivley with employment law. Call Andy Dwyer in Newark.
Joe Pockets October 19, 2012 at 12:16 AM
The 5 faces of granite that sit a the freeholders table make 100.000 +++ a year each in the dept they run or assist to run, each has at least 2 pension 28.000 and a car for 24 meetings a year...I guess the timing was right for them when there contract was signed! ...YEP
former October 19, 2012 at 12:22 AM
who are you "guess who"?? someone I know in particular? either way I just wanted to say that I am not whining, I am just trying to expose what they are doing. Secondly, thank you for the lawyer information. Over a year ago when I was fighting the county at civil service hearings for them trying to terminate me, I would have loved to of haved an employment lawyer by my side, but without income, it makes it very hard to be able to pay an attorney that wants to be paid up front and by the hour...trust me I did call several. I do have a workers compensation attorney, but since the county is so good at getting away with things, and having people in their pockets if you know what I mean and having other elected officials do their dirty work, it has been a struggle with workers comp (I have dealt with fraudulent doctors that they have sent me to, they have also been fraudulent with medical reports, etc)...for those that don't believe this to be true, because you think the county wouldnt' break the laws, trust me they do it!!!!...they have even gotten away with not complying with a court order that stated they were required to start providing treatment and pay to me, but like I said, they are in non compliance of that court order, and now I am waiting on the next court date to see whats going to happen. So again, I am not whining, just trying to expose their wrong doings. they seem to care alot about their image, so maybe the exposure will "help" them decide to do the right thing.
Mac October 19, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Jim, at least you are asking the freeholders to investigate something they have had a great deal of experience in throughout the years. Do you really think they might fire themselves?
Joe Pockets October 19, 2012 at 12:36 AM
Come November 6th the ocean county employees can return the kind and loving words to Mr bartlett & Little with a tug on 7B & 8B. let your wife, children,brothers, sisters Mothers & Fathers join this event of love so these to gentlemen can start collecting healthy pensions and sick time we owe them....Time for a Rooster in the Hen house Boys
former October 19, 2012 at 12:41 AM
YOU ARE EXACTLY RIGHT!!!!! As long as they continue to make "their" high salaries during this hard economic time, then they don't care about all of the other employees. There is no reason for them to be making that much money!! They need to share the weath with the rest of the county employees
former October 19, 2012 at 12:46 AM
And by the way, if there are any employment lawyers reading this, or someone that knows an employment lawyer, that would be willing to help me out, then it would be greatly appreciated. feel free to email me at dsj312@aol.com
Joe Pockets October 19, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Dee just to get on the same page, My son was hired in 1999 by the county as a Dump truck driver cdl-a in hand, In 2012 after 12.5 years & 2 longvities he hit 39.400 before uncle sam got his. At that rate he will never get to struggle to pay his mortgage as im sorry you do,Because ......The job you say he should be glad to have didnt buy a house when they were giving away 5 years ago....Are hiring at either of your pt jobs at night...Maybe then he can get lucky and have a home to struggle for.
disgusted homeowner October 19, 2012 at 01:31 AM
And please don't forget our 84 year old sheriff who collects his full pension ( from his 30 plus years as police chief in seaside) and his fulltime salary as sheriff. He doesn't know what time of day it is or where he is for that matter........And he's running for re-election this november!!!! HAHA LOL
KC October 19, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Former - what these employers are getting away with these days is just horrific. I also lost a job along with 39 other people after the entire place shut down. They waited a few months and re-opened with an entirely new staff apart from a couple of managers. We weren't even given the option to negotiate or cut our salaries. We were just played. There is so much of it going on and the fact that people are so anti-union in the face of all this mistreatment just makes my head spin. I wish I would have had union protection working for those scabs. That gelding Q knows all about it he lives here in town along with one or two of the business owners. For the misery they caused a lot of people I hope they burn in hell. I am lucky I had a pension from a union job worked when I was younger and that I am close to social security age. Those people I worked with who are in the too old to hire, too young to retire age bracket are in a word - screwed. The lawyers are a pain in the a$$. They want to argue with you, not listen to you. They will spend an hour telling you why they won't take a case, but not give an hour pro-bono help. They are another whole trip. I became what I would characterize as disabled right after layoff with what I sincerely believe to be a work related repetive stress injury. I had surgery that didn't correct the problem, in fact made it worse. The system for disability is such a pain in the neck I refuse to even try to deal w/ it. I feel your pain. You have company.
KC October 19, 2012 at 04:13 AM
Agreed!
KC October 19, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Joe P, I have asked for years - what is it that freeholders do? NOBODY HAS AN ANSWER. I am not making that up. NOBODY has an answer to that question. I think they hold the money for free hence the name a Free holder.
former October 19, 2012 at 12:43 PM
JOSIE NOMAN, I am well aware of how it works, the point I am making is the fact to be "eligible" for the Accidental Disability Pension, you must of gotten hurt on the job, and your employer must recognize that fact. I AM COMPLETELY ENTITLED TO IT, but as long as my employer continues to deny that I am disabled from the on the job injury, then they are preventing me from getting it. It is stated in the fact sheets, Fact Sheet #15, that the governing body (which would be the freeholders) MUST agree that I am disabled from an on the job injury and that I cannot gainfully return to employment. NOW if you have been reading everything I wrote in all the other comments, then you would have read that the PROBLEM is not with the state pension system, the PROBLEM is with my employer, the County of Ocean, not wanting to take responsibility and report to the pension system that I got hurt on the job and now disabled because of it. The problem is the fact that on the termination paperwork, in order to fire me, they say that I got hurt on the job and can not return to work in the foreseeable future BUT then in workers comp they say the complete opposite, that I am NOT disabled from an on the job injury in order to avoid having to provide workers comp medical treatment and pay.
former October 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM
They told me right to my face that they WOULD not tell the Pension system that I got hurt on the job because it would affect them with workers comp (and their insurance adjuster would be mad). They said I could go ahead and apply myself, but the only thing they would give the pension system is a copy of my termination paperwork, where it states they wanted to fire me "not in good standings" because they claimed I adbandoned my job. This alone would cause me to get denied. Now not for nothing, they knew the reason I couldn't return to work was because I obviously was disabled from the work injury. The problem I stress is the fact they are doing everything possible to deny that my disability is from the on the job injury.I have already been in contact with the Pension system and they even told me that my employer MUST be willing to state that I became disabled from an on the job injury, and since they are denying that fact, they are preventing me from getting the pension. You may say, well how can this be, why would they do such a thing, heck, you may even doubt that my disabling injuries are from the on the job injury since the county of ocean says otherwise, you may think there is no way that a government agency would do such a thing to someone that rightfully got hurt at work....BUT what I have is ACTUAL medical reports that PROVE I am telling the truth, I have ACTUAL medical reports that PROVE the doctors they sent me to through workers comp are Fraudulent.
former October 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM
The County of Ocean has done everything possible to try to get away with being responsible for my severe on the job injury. It is easier for them to just throw me away and not give me what I am rightfully entitled to. THE PEOPLE expect them to be honest and do what is right, since they are government, BUT I have actual medical proof and many documents proving THEIR WRONGDOINGS.
former October 19, 2012 at 12:51 PM
The MRI reports and EMG & Nerve tests do not lie.
former October 19, 2012 at 01:08 PM
So if anyone wants to doubt me because you would rather believe the County of Ocean (since they are expected to uphold the laws), then you will sadly be let down. Just like any other politician who eventually gets caught and gets charged with corruption...The County of Ocean will continue to cover up their wrong doings...but one day, the truth will catch up to them!!! The Truth will prevail in the end!!!! I have kept quite too long, hoping that Justice will prevail, but I know now that unless I expose their wrong doings, then they will keep trying to get away with it, they are a government agency, and I am just an average person...so the odds are against me fighting against them. I can no longer wait for the justice system to prevail, because they have caused my family to be in financial distress, and we do not have time on our side to continue to wait it out. so that is why I am now doing everything possible to EXPOSE the County of Ocean for what they are doing to my family. I was a faithful employee, I loved my job and truly could say that I enjoyed going to work each and every day. I game them my all, I excelled at every duty given to me. I was hired by them already having many years of experience with running equipment. I already had my CDL Class A drivers license. It bothers me that I will never be able to go back to the job I loved. Unfortunately, I got hurt on the job and became unusefull to my employer, so they threw me away.
former October 19, 2012 at 04:40 PM
"If hurt on the job and a incident form was complete along with treatment by a work authorized doctor then you have a work related injury"....You know that, I know that, but try telling my employer that!! I completely understand what you are saying about the state being the ones to make the decisions regarding the pension, but I have been on the phone with them numerous times and they say each and every time that if my employer denies the fact that it was an on the job injury that has left me disabled, then I will be denied!! READ Fact Sheet #15 on the Pensions and Benefits website, it clearly states that for Government employee's, your employer's governoring body (which would be the ocean county freeholders) MUST make a resolution stating that due to the on the job injury, I have become disabled, and am unable to work. If they do not do this, then I will not get approved. Trust me, I completely understand what you are talking about in regards to the fact that they will look at all the medical documents, etc to make their decision, but besides that fact, THEY NEED the resolution from my employer stating that I did indeed become disabled from an on the job injury. As I have mentioned before, the problem is the fact that my employer is DENYING that I am disabled from the on the job injury.
former October 19, 2012 at 04:40 PM
They have told me to my face that they will not give Pensions & Benfits Dept. the resolution, they will not confirm that I am disabled from the on the job injury, which is ultimately preventing me from being able to get the Accidental Disability Pension. This is the whole point of what I am trying to expose, they use the fact that I got hurt on the job, and unable to return to work as the EXCUSE to fire me and then they say the complete opposite in workers comp court in order to avoid having to provide medical treatment and pay. There was an accident report and all that clearly stated what happened.
A. Nonie October 23, 2012 at 07:27 PM
just remember, public workers also pay property taxes, hence they contribute to their own salaries..
What you talkin about Willis? October 23, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Can't private businesses do all of that less expensively? Tell you what, government can keep doing all it if they give up their pensions since this is an unnecessary expense on the taxpayers. Pensions don't plow roads, grab trash or make kids smarter. Public sector makes more than private sector anyway http://www.federalnewsradio.com//189/3085581/Pay-gap-between-government-private-sector-widens-to-34-percent
Keeping whats mine October 23, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Good one, and true. Sad

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