Jersey City Housing Authority union workers demand better wages at council meeting


The Jersey City Housing Authority Employees Association (JCHAEA) labor union demanded better wages at last night’s council meeting.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

Several of their members came to the council meeting with signs criticizing the JCHA.

“JCHEA employees have continued to work with no hazard pay,” said Zaheer Aziz co-founder and Vice President of the Jersey City Housing Authority Employees Association (JCHAEA).

He also noted that executive staff were given tech equipment to work remotely.

“We continue to work with minimal staff and materials unable to maintain the property up to HUD standard,” Aziz stated.

He continued that they are very short on staff and do not have any electricians or sewer cleaners, and only one carpenter and are still expected to serve 7,100 employees.

The housing authority offered them a 2.25 percent raise over the next three years and Aziz did not want to accept it.

“Our executive director has received a $35,000 increase in 2020. Our chief of staff received a $29,000 increase in 2020,” Aziz added, along with similar senior staff receiving significant raises.

He also noted that did not include bonuses and other compensation like meal allowances and vehicle reimbursement he noted, along with requesting a four percent raise.

“They want to take money from our tenured employees by taking from their retirement package,” he added.

JCHAEA Treasurer Rodney Henry also noted their sites are understaffed.

“We are short the manpower we need on a daily basis. Upper management continues to ignore staffing,” he began.

“2021-2022, the cost of living went up 5.9 percent. Oil is the highest it’s been since 1975, and they offered us 2.2 percent. How do they expect us to pay our rent? We were essential workers,” exclaimed Michael Newby.

He also stated they they received no federal stimulus money while the authority did, with their only additional compensation being a $900-holiday bonus.

“They got their $900 bonus too. They were home. 21 months, $900 is less than six cents a day. My life is well worth more than 2 cents an hour,” Newby added, also noting they were mandated to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

In terms of building material, “They give us garbage. You want us to build a condominium, a million dar house with two cents. It’s not possible.”

Telissa Dowling, also of the JCHAEA, noted some of her co-workers have problems affording to live in Jersey City.

“We need you to come in and investigate where the money is being spent in the budget,” she said.

Dowling said the workers were renovating a building but had no break room. She also argued because units have deteriorated for so long, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development rules, they might need to be demolished.

She also lamented private management companies managing certain HUD properties and bringing their own workers.

“They’re forcing our guys to take early retirement,” she said.

“We are getting done wrong. We’ve been out here risking our lives every day. We all have families to feed. Please investigate. Please help us,” pleaded Brian Lee of the JCHAEA.

Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera acknowledged their plight.

“Don’t let no one tell you that you can’t come here, you can’t come here and voice your opinions. To the BA, can we require that their budget be looked at?,” he asked.

Business Administrator John Metro noted that the Jersey City Housing Authority is federally funded and subject to rigorous federal audits that are available to the public.

“I’m happy to work with the council getting those documents,” he said.

“Did y’all go before your board? Did your board give a hard time?” Council President Joyce Watterman asked.

“We sent them a brief synopsis of what we were looking for. We did not get positive feedback,” Lee said.

“Can you send those docs to us?,” Rivera replied.

Lee noted they have been in negotiations for a year with no results yet.

“Can we share with them how our unions did during the pandemic? So they have some documents to go by,” Rivera said.

“The board is supposed to protect them. That’s why I am going to be meeting with your board,” Watterman said to the applause of the union members.

“Thank you so much,” Lee said.

Aziz said they likely have to go before the Jersey City Housing Authority board to advocate for a significant raise.

“Make sure you go there the same way you guys came here, strong like,” Rivera said.

Additionally, the expansion to Fairmount Square Park passed unanimously (8-0), with Council President Joyce Watterman absent at the time as part of the consent agenda.

Warning: A non-numeric value encountered in /home/hcvcp/public_html/wp-content/themes/Hudson County View/includes/wp_booster/td_block.php on line 353


  1. I love it and its just the beginning of trying to build a true partnership with the people that we work for! We work for the tenants and we have to work with upper management to make it work. I also want to thank the council members for hearing our voices 🙏