The head of one of Hoboken’s municipal worker unions is coming out swinging at the Mayor Ravi Bhalla administration following yesterday’s announcement that 26 City Hall employees will be laid off in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“We are disappointed that the city, instead of requesting an extension of the layoff plan, chose to issue layoff notices to city employees during this uncertain time. The City listed employees because they were deemed non-essential, yet during this crisis these employees are still working so that the city could function,” said Hoboken Municipal Employees Association President Diane Nieves.
“This layoff list also clearly targets me, the union representative, in retaliation for opposing the layoffs and for not blindly accepting the awful medical plan that the City was demanding. Many of the employees targeted for layoffs are senior employees and they are clearly being targeted because of their age and time on the job. The city is harming loyal employees because of its mismanagement.”
Back on March 2nd, the city issued layoff notices to 79 municipal employees, several of whom lashed out at the next council meeting where the governing body recommended the city to switch healthcare plans.
A few days later, Bhalla said in an interview with HCV that while the city was unlikely to use the statewide insurance plan, NJ Direct 10, the cost savings could be effectuated and enacted sooner by maintaining the services of the city’s current broker – Fairview Insurance.
Then on Wednesday, the council passed another measure urging the admin not to execute any layoffs until after the public health emergency subsides.
However, Bhalla announced on Friday that 26 employees would be laid off, citing the COVID-19 crisis compounding an already difficult multi-million dollar budget shortfall.
“While my administration has been working tirelessly to address previous budgetary challenges and has made progress to this effect, the pandemic and our fiscal standing makes it extremely difficult to withstand such a major impact without layoffs in City Hall,” he said at the time.
A city spokesman declined to comment further.
Hoboken is the first Hudson County municipality to announce layoffs during the ongoing pandemic, though Jersey City had previously noted they are expecting a $70 million financial loss and more recently offered 400 employees buyouts as they try to avoid layoffs.