AFSCME’s “Staff the Front Lines” bus tour to fill public service jobs stopped in Jersey City this morning, with Mayor Steven Fulop and Democratic nominee for Hudson County Executive Craig Guy in attendance.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Union leaders discussed the importance of hiring dedicated people to fill vacant union jobs in libraries, in social services, health care, and EMS workers, truck drivers, as well as clerical workers, according to FSCME Council 63 Executive Director Steve Tully.
He added that AFSCME, which has about 22,000 members in New Jersey, has seen about a 15 percent decrease in their work force since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This is not a problem that is unique to Jersey City or Hudson County. It is a problem all across New Jersey and, in fact, it is a problem throughout our entire country,” Tully said at the press event.
“… There are hundreds of open positions right here in Hudson County alone. These are good union jobs with good pay, great health benefits, pension, and job security.”
AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Elissa McBride also acknowledged the staff shortages, but continued their union members were capable of handling significant challenges.
“AFSCME members had to shoulder a heavier load because of current staffing shortages. But they refuse to give up because they were called to serve with excellence. And they know that a union job means stability and a voice in the workplace.”
District 1199J NUHHCE President Susan Cleary pointed out that over 40 members lost their lives due to COVID as they tried to help others.
Mayor Steven Fulop, the only declared candidate for governor, thanked every for participating in a listening roundtable prior to the press conference, noting that they are pursuing many common goals.
“This is one of the most important things we can been doing today: Educating the public around what kind of job opportunities there are, and trying to fill gaps in regard to what we can do better as an employer to entice people to come into the front-line workforce,” he stated.
“… We share a lot of the same goals here, if not all of the same goals: To make sure we have the best services delivered to our residents. And that starts with having good people who are motivated and feel good about their jobs.”
Guy, also a retired police officer who currently serves as the chief of staff to outgoing Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, echoed a similar sentiment, adding that he will be a friend to unions when he’s in office (he’s unopposed in November).
“I think, and I hope, that this roundtable and this awareness campaign that AFSCME is taking part in is going to raise awareness for the front-line workers. Raise awareness for people who need to fair wages and good working conditions.”
CarePoint CEO and President Dr. Achintya Moulick spoke as well, praising front line workers for their efforts in recent years.
“We need to get you an environment that is conducive for work. That’s why we are the only health care system in the entire nation that has opened a hotline for front-line workers. We will support you as you support us.”