Union president dismayed over furloughs

Howell Township has implemented a plan to “force furlough” its blue collar and white collar employees for up to 12 weeks over the 2009 calendar year.

The 125-plus employees are members of the Transport Workers Union Local 225, Branch 4, and are very angry, dismayed and totally opposed to any furlough or layoff plan.

We are the employees that can least afford this financial hardship, yet are always the hardest hit when the town gets into financial trouble. Residents should be very concerned about this because furloughs will affect the level of services the town will be able to provide.

The TWU has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Commission in Trenton to fight this injustice. The TWU will not be strong-armed.

The Township Council will begin, this month, to review the proposed 2009 budget, and the TWU will be there to introduce ways the town could save money to lessen the 12 weeks of furlough.

The council passed the 2008 budget on July 10, 2008, with a zero tax increase. This set the stage for creating the budget crises for 2009 and beyond.

The union believes that the budget caps imposed by Trenton are nothing more than “bargaining through legislation,” which is just plain anti-union and anti-American, and are a prelude to “privatization.”

The services provided to the residents of Howell by TWU members are invaluable and irreplaceable through “privatization.”

Just a fraction of the duties our members perform for the residents are: keeping the streets safe and in drivable condition, doing major pipe work, repairing sidewalks, cleaning up litter, picking up bulk items for the homeowner, plowing snow for public safety and convenience.

And, keeping the parks and recreation facilities safe and in top condition, keeping the town buildings maintained and clean, keeping the court and police department running at a peak level of performance, as is the case with all of the other departments like engineering, building, code, tax collection, tax assessor, the clerk’s office, and any other department from which the employees provide services.

The employee-provided services are provided with dedication, commitment, professionalism and accountability, things the taxpayer will never get from a private contractor.

All unions know these are perilous economic times that call for extraordinary measures and unprecedented sacrifices, but like always it seems the little guy, the average working person, is made to do most of the sacrificing. These forced furloughs are like a paper hospital gown: no matter how you turn it, it don’t cover you.
Christopher W. Mikkelson
Transport Workers Union
Local 225, Branch 4
Brick Township