Transport Workers Union Responds To Brick Mayor’s Proposed Public Works Layoffs
Brick Township is in the middle of a fight over its entire public works department. Mayor Steve Acropolis is proposing laying off the entire seventy seven person staff to save money, while John Ducey and the rest of the Democratic majority township council is looking for a way to keep the workers.
The Transport Workers Union (TWU) which covers the drivers, repair crews, janitors, and other assorted employees within the townships public works department isn’t sitting idly while the mayor and council spar over the issue. Chairman of the TWU local 225 Branch 4, John Menshon, says their organization has already filed a formal grievance complaint against the township. He notes that is only one of the avenues the union will go through in dealing with the matter.
“Others [measures we could do] such as the civil service appeal. We can also file an unfair practice with the Public Employee Relations Commission which is the other state entity.” Says Menshon.
MAYOR UNFAIRLY TARGETING PUBLIC WORKS EMPLOYEES
Retaining public works employees was already a hot button issue in the borough, with the department being a crux point in the voter approval of last year’s budget. However while Brick managed to retain many of its services, it also increased spending eight million dollars, causing property tax rates to jump twenty four percent. The issue of property taxes was a reason voters elected four democrats (John Ducey, Jim Fozman, Susan Lydecker and Robert Moore) into the Township Council.
This budget, created by Mayor Acropolis and Administrator Scott Pezzaras, looks to chop $8million in costs and return to pre-increase numbers.
Menshon however says that the Mayor is unfairly targeting the Public Works employees, even after resident voted to keep the services intact.
“They passed a referendum recently and twice there was polls taken through referendum’s and the residents clearly indicated they wanted their services, and this mayor does not listen to the people, that’s the problem.” Argues Menshon.
Menshon believes that Acropolis’ decision to put Public Works on the chopping block is disrespect to the township employees and the voters.
"RAILROADING THE COMMUNITY"
“He’s just railroading the union, he’s railroading the community and he’s not listening to the very people who put him in office. We’re going to pursue whatever means it takes to get justice and fairness.”
He adds the TWU has been cooperative in trying to work within the means of the economy, noting that they have made concessions in the past.
“For example we took a wage freeze last year; we gave back our largest pay increase of the contract. We froze steps. We’re really going out of our way; we’re contributing to our healthcare.”
Menshon notes that taxes went up $8.6 million dollars on the referendum, which people approved because they didn’t want to lose public works.
“Now the mayor turns around says ‘Well we’re going to keep these services but we’re going to keep your money.’”
OUTSOURCING THE WORK
Mayor Acropolis has said that if public works employees are laid off, the town would be able to hire outsourced third party contractors at a savings to tax payers. Menshon however says that in reality it won’t be much of a savings.
“It’s been proven that we provide the sanitation and recycling in house cheaper than, and this is from the township, this is what they said; We are actually cheaper doing it in house than the private contractor so it’s awful funny how that has changed.” Says Menshon.
He’s tired of the towns hard working Public Works employees being the target of the layoffs.
“They want the bottom to do all of the sacrifices, the guys that are picking up your bulk stuff, your Christmas trees, fixing your pot holes, and fixing your drains and your basements, and picking up your brush and leaves. These are not the guys making the big money, these are guys making thirty five forty thousand a year. They need to go after the guys making the one hundred fifty thousand dollars a year. “