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Old 07-07-2007, 11:01 AM   #1
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Default " The Reformer has not Reformed"

[B]$20,000 dollar raises to political hacks and you wonder why there is a budget problem.[/B]

Buyouts can't deter Newark layoffs
Less than 10 percent of the 3,000 eligible city workers take package
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Star-Ledger Staff
Less than 10 percent of the Newark employees eligible for a buyout offer had applied as of yesterday's deadline, meaning the city will likely lay off an unspecified number of workers this fall.

Business Administrator Bo Kemp said 236 of the 3,000 eligible employees applied for the buyouts, more than the 150 that were expected, but not nearly enough to solve the city's financial problems.

"It does not alleviate our need to do involuntary separations," Kemp said. "In order to close the ... budget gap, we are going to have to look at involuntarily separating from people here at City Hall."

Mayor Cory Booker has said the buyouts are needed to reduce the layoffs that will be necessary to close the remaining $50 million of a $180 million budget gap. If all 236 employees are accepted into the buyout program, Kemp said, the city could save $15 million in salary and benefits.

Under the buyout offer, non-uniformed employees will receive 30 percent to 60 percent of their annual salary in a lump sum payment, depending on length of service.

Booker said yesterday the number of layoffs will depend upon how many police and firefighters accept a separate buyout package that will be detailed next week, as well as how successful the city is at increasing revenues. The mayor has said there could be as many as 1,000 layoffs.

"The definite number is not going to come until the fall," he said.

As the 4:30 p.m. deadline approached yesterday, the human resources office at City Hall hummed with activity as employees dropped off their applications.

Marshall Cooper, the city's director of redevelopment, said he agonized for two weeks about the buyout package. By 4:15 p.m., Cooper, 55, decided to accept it.

"As a child, I always wanted to be a part of rebuilding my city. I've had an opportunity to fulfill my life's ambitions," Cooper said.

Employees who receive the buyouts will be notified by July 16. For those who are accepting the buyout and retiring, their last day will be July 31. For everyone else, the last day of work will be Aug. 3.

Rahaman Muhammad, president of Service Employees International Union Local 617, which represents 600 city workers, has been critical of the buyout and layoffs.

"(Booker's) trying to offload workers who did not support him in an election. These jobs are used for political patronage and Cory Booker is no different than any other politician. The reformer has not reformed," Muhammad said.

That attitude is not uncommon around City Hall. Booker has taken heat for the number of people he has hired and also for issuing raises. He had planned to ask the City Council next week to approve raises of almost $20,000 each for Fire Director Dave Giordano and Melvin Waldrop, the acting director of neighborhood and recreational services. Both men's base salary would have increased to $157,000 before calculating any longevity bonus.

Booker said both "deserved" the increases, which he said would bring them in line with other department directors. However, the salary request has been pulled from the council's agenda because, Booker said, "in this climate, this is not the right time."

Giordano is the former head of the Newark Firefighters Union, the only major city union to support Booker during his unsuccessful 2002 run for mayor.

Kemp said the city's financial problems are real. Each year for at least the last five, Newark has operated under a deficit by spending more than it received in revenue. The settlement from a lawsuit with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has filled the holes, but the money is dwindling.

Moody's Investors Service warned the city in April that if it did not end its reliance on one-shot revenue, it would see its bond rating drop.

Kemp said eliminating the deficit is a multi-year process. The plan for this year is to cut costs, he said; the focus for next year will be to increase revenue.

Forensic audits have shown that of the 11,000 businesses that are supposed to pay the city a special payroll tax, 3,500 pay nothing while others may not be paying enough. Last year, Newark collected $33.5 million in payroll taxes.

In addition, Kemp said he's working with state Sen. Ronald L. Rice (D-Essex) to introduce legislation that would allow the city to impose parking and ticket surcharges for events at the new Prudential Center arena.

For longtime employees like 84-year-old Ada L. Kreps, the buyout came at just the right time.

After 24 years as a supervisor at the Grace West Senior Center, she was ready to retire.

"(The seniors) didn't want me to go," she said, "but I told them it's time."

© 2007 The Star Ledger
© 2007 NJ.com All Rights Reserved.
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Old 07-07-2007, 12:44 PM   #2
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Default Rock...LOCAl 617.....

You need to do something to prepare your workforce for the private sector. As a Local 617 rep- im sure you and your international has noticed the shrinkage of public employees across the country. I have a couple of questions that I want you to ask Rock/JJ or International:

1). I know your union had to know this was coming at some point-what training or resources (resume writing, reaching out to other employers) do you have for your remaining workforce.

2). Knowing that some of your workforce are chronic drug users, are you willing to have drug programs or educational sessions from C.U.R.A or Integrity House to help your employees get back on track?

Just a few ?? off the top of my head. I think that unions have a proactive role to help keep your workforce employed at all cost. But to also prepare them for the future.
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Old 07-08-2007, 02:33 AM   #3
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Default Raises

According to this, the raises have been pulled form the agenda, but they should've never been put on the first place! They may deserve them, but too bad - at least they got a job.

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Old 07-08-2007, 03:42 AM   #4
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Default Damn right....

Originally Posted by John360
According to this, the raises have been pulled form the agenda, but they should've never been put on the first place! They may deserve them, but too bad - at least they got a job.

For some reason i almost feel as if these employees are strong arming Bookers with phrases like "Hey Cory, we'd love to work with the city and help you out, but I mean, we could work other places for more money."

I don't think he is giving people raises simply because he wants to, he may feel obliged to.
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