Several months ago Brian McGorty and myself visited with you and discussed the frustration with regard to the Public Employee Relations Commission (PERC) as it related to the specific handling of the North Hudson Fire and Rescue contract arbitration.
Based upon our discussion you set up a meeting with Jim Davy who was to investigate how your office might look to positively impact this situation. To date we, Brian McGorty nor myself, have been contacted as to the status of our request.
Please allow me to update you on what I believe to be a disgraceful example of mismanagement by government and an extremely volatile atmosphere brewing among the dedicated, loyal firefighters of North Hudson.
The North Hudson Firefighters are now in the 5th year waiting for their contract to be settled. Firefighters who have been promoted to officer have gone uncompensated for as long as two years. Benefits, starting times and vacation continue to vary from one former department to the other.
There is no way to detail the countless injustices that continue to prevail while PERC sits idly back and allows chaos to reign in North Hudson.
Imagine the nausea North Hudson Firefighters experience when they continue to hear government officials proclaim their heroism, dedication, devotion and commitment to the community. Is this how we treat heroes and committed personnel in our State?
Morale is no longer low. It is non-existent. Frustration and anger is beginning to manifest itself in the firehouse and on the fire-ground. The safety of these brave civil servants and that of the citizens is clearly being compromised.
As a committed friend of New Jersey’s firefighters I appeal to you in the most urgent possible way to intervene with regard to PERC’s handling of this matter. Commission Chairwoman Wasell has been a complete disaster. Her stewardship of this commission has left the public employees, more specifically firefighters, in complete disarray.
I respectfully request, for the safety and welfare of all involved, that you please make this issue a priority. This situation is not only untenable, unjust and an embarrassment to government, it certainly is no way to treat people who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep others safe.
To add sale to the wounds, two Fire Directors have been granted salary increases while firefighters and fire officers await action from the State of New Jersey’s Public Employee Commission for “5” years.
We must find the will and the common sense to address this issue. Government has got to be able to deliver better than this, especially for those who continue to deliver for government 365 days a year.
The almost 400 members of the North Hudson Firefighters and Fire Officers Association have been your staunchest supporters. I ask on their behalf for your immediate consideration and action.
I look forward to discussing this further or perhaps facilitating a meeting where North Hudson Firefighters may be told as to some immediate plan of action.
William J. Lavin, President
New Jersey State Firemen’s Mutual Benevolent Association