May 22, 2020

Dear Union Family,

Please read this update carefully.

You have probably read about the Steve Sweeney Job Share/Furlough bill that the Legislature passed. This bill is an update of 2013 Job Sharing legislation that permits partial furloughs, and the only change appears to be a clarification that employees make a full pension payment during the furlough and receive full credit. (Which was the practice, but was not in the law.) This bill requires that there is Union agreement.   Although Sweeney is touting the possibility of 100,000 furloughs of public workers, it is CWA’s intention to use this legislation or the current law only if it will avoid the worst prospect – layoffs. This bill does not cause mandatory furloughs. They must be negotiated and agreed to by the union.

You may have also read that the Governor has approved a change to a Civil Service Rule that previously only permitted 30-day VOLUNTARY furloughs but will permit longer Furloughs without loss of healthcare or pension benefits to prevent layoff.   Please note – these furloughs cannot be made unilaterally. Furloughs that apply to multiple workers represented by CWA have to be negotiated. Individual workers can make use of the Voluntary Furlough regulation where it applies to their circumstances.  

Our problem is not the legislation or the Rule. This legislation and Rule, while tools, would not do enough to stem the bleeding of revenues to the State and Local municipalities. With the current level of losses to revenues, the State is facing at least 10 BILLION (that’s a B!) in lost revenues. If these revenues are not made up through federal funding or bonding, there will be massive cuts to the State, to counties, and to municipalities.   This doomsday scenario requires responsible and strenuous action from our Congress and from the NJ Legislature in the form of support for the Governor’s plan to bond to make up for lost revenues.

Neither the Sweeney Furlough Bill nor the revised Civil Service put our members in harms’ way by their passage. We are deeply engaged and watching these developments and we will take responsible actions that protect our members. The genuine and immediate threat is the loss of $10 billion in revenues and the need for federal aid and for State borrowing.

CWA is preparing for all contingencies. We are talking with the Administration regularly, we are actively supporting Federal legislation, and we are speaking with our State and Federal officials about financing.

Our entire approach is the safety of our members, the protection of jobs and healthcare, and the maintenance of public services.

We are planning several Telephone Townhall calls to discuss our contingency planning and we will send you notices next week about how to join the call(s). There will be a call specific to State workers as well as a call that will cover the specific challenges that are facing some of our State colleges.

When we have those calls, we will call you at the number that you have provided to us.   If you have not been receiving the calls, please go here now, and give us your phone number.

We know that you have many questions and concerns about the future of your job and the important work that you do. We will have some answers when we have the call. For now, please be assured that our Union is very proactively engaged in protecting all our members.

In Solidarity,

John Rose, President, CWA Local 1031

Patrick Kavanagh, President, CWA Local 1032

Gaye Palmer, President, CWA Local 1033

Adam Liebtag, President, CWA Local 1036

Ken McNamara, President, CWA Local 1037

Shawn Ludwig, President, CWA Local 1038

Carolyn Wade, President, CWA Local 1040

Hetty Rosenstein, NJ Director

Dennis Trainor, Vice President District 1