New Jersey State AFL-CIO Calls on Union County Freeholders to Avert Worker Layoffs and Address Wage Double Standard at Runnells Hospital

New Jersey AFL-CIO

TRENTON – During yesterday’s Union County Freeholders meeting attended by the New Jersey State AFL-CIO officers, IFPTE National President Gregory Junemann, IFPTE Council 8, CWA Local 1080, and HPAE among others, union leaders and community activists joined to express their frustration over a contractual impasse and Union County’s unequal treatment of workers versus administrators at Runnells Hospital.

New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech stated, “It is quite clear that sacrifice is only being asked of those who can least afford it. The employees who would suffer under the current offer are housekeepers, workers in the laundry department and other low wage workers earning between $35,000 and $40,000 a year. Many are single mothers and minorities.”

“The current contract proposal by management is a two-year wage freeze, which comes on top of significant concessions in the last contract. In the previous contract a two-year wage freeze was agreed to in return for retiree health benefits – which the county is now trying to reverse itself on – thus forcing workers to lose two years of wage increases for a benefit they will never receive,” explained President Wowkanech. “This is not only unacceptable, but is also a betrayal to good faith negotiations.”

“The county is in the process of laying-off over two hundred workers and is demanding painful cuts from their remaining workers, who will essentially go four years without a wage increase. Despite this, supervisors and managers have been carved out and rewarded with huge salary increases – between 20 – 25 percent. The acting County Department head received a $25,529 raise, the Department of Parks Assistant Director received a $20,000 raise, and the number of individuals making over $100,000 has jumped from 31 to 131 since 2000,” President Wowkanech reported. “This is outrageous.”

In conclusion, President Wowkanech asked that the Union County Freeholders return to the table to bargain a reasonable contract and asked that a resolution be passed by the Union County Freeholders stipulating that management would not be entitled to raises until all laid-off workers were returned to work. President Wowkanech added, “If the county has enough money to take care of administrators and supervisors, the county should also take care of its workers. Otherwise, all should have to share equally in the sacrifice together.”

Contact Info:

Charles Wowkanech, President, 609-989-8730