The Hackensack City Council, and their 4th City Manager in under 4 years, have taken to bullying and intimidating city workers. This is resulting in lawsuits on your tax dollar, and a decline in city services. Members from each of Hackensack’s collective bargaining units have complained that morale among their collective bargaining units are at all time lows. Generally, I would brush it off as sour grapes or silly complaints, until I really listened.
Councilmen Sims and Battaglia have bullied and harassed DPW workers since their coming into office (http://hackensackscoop.blogspot.com/2014/09/department-of-public-works-requests-end.html).
Deborah Keeling-Geddis came on to the council already showing her animus and hatred towards our uniformed services having gone to Trenton to attempt to block the approval of a bond issue citing reckless spending in giving the PBA modest 1% and 1.5% salary increases (despite the PBA contributing back up to 35% of the cost of their health insurance coverage). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khsPjECyebw)
Deputy Mayor Canestrino and Mayor Labrosse led the charge in hiring their campaign manager Thom Ammirato to be their city paid campaign manager while hiring their campaign fundraiser Anthony Rottino to a made up position (before making him the City Manager). Well, Ammirato left Hackensack in disgrace losing two public jobs in exchange for an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office not to prosecute him (http://hackensackscoop.blogspot.com/2014/10/politically-affiliated-county-employee.html).
After Labrosse and Canestrino fell out with Rottino, they pleaded behind closed doors with residents to help run him out of town. The result of the bullying of Rottino? A big fat settlement and lawsuit at the tax payers’ expense! And what are they doing now? They have brought back a city funded public relations firm in this, their last year in office, to try to make themselves look good going into campaign season.
Canestrino took it on herself, along with Rose Greenman, to harass and intimidate the City Clerk out of her job (http://hackensackscoop.blogspot.com/2014/08/you-read-it-here-first-former-city.html) due to her perceived “political affiliations.” The result? Another big fat civil rights violation lawsuit that continues to be ongoing.
The City Manager, in the last 6 months, has:
1) Negotiated a contract with the white collar employees which was finalized in January. Despite the contract terms being complete, he will not sign the contract and according to a union member is “holding it over every worker’s head that they are working without a contract as a scare tactic.”
2) Frozen steps for our police officers, despite a judge’s ruling that you cannot freeze steps because a contract has expired. The City Manager refuses to give the young police officers their contractual steps. What most people do not know is that police officers start at very modest salaries (approximately $36,000) before rising over a nine year period to a salary of $100,000+. These young officers with families are struggling to make ends meet and the City Manager refuses to honor their existing contractual step increases. And why is he holding up the steps stubbornly? Presumably because if an unfair labor practice complaint is filed the current contract negotiations are forced into arbitration (see 3 below).
3) Will not give the PBA a contract. The PBA during the last contract negotiation accepted 1% and 1.5% salary increases while giving back up to 35% of their cost of health insurance benefits. The result was a net negative increase in take home pay for every officer. In this new contract negotiation, the PBA offered the city a 2-year contract with NO SALARY INCREASES. The City Manager’s response? He FILED FOR ARBITRATION!
4) Started discussions on the privatization of the sanitation department which will result in a decline in services as a private contractor comes in and many hard working city employees losing their jobs!
While all of this was going on, the City Manager and CFO received $7,500 and $7,900 raises and the City Manager reinstated a 21% raise for Councilman Battaglia’s wife (http://hackensackscoop.blogspot.com/2015/04/councilmans-spouse-has-rescinded-raise.html).
I implore you to please consider signing the below petition and telling your City Council to stop these unfair labor practices, treat our workers fairly, honor their existing contracts, sign the contracts they have negotiated, and give all of our collective bargaining units contracts! The result if they don’t? A decline in city services and undoubtedly more lawsuits and shame brought to our City. If they can give a councilman's wife a 21% raise, the City Manager and CFO a $7,500 and $7,900 raise, the HR manager a city car, spend $21+ million on pet projects, and hire their own campaign manager on the City's dime, they can give our policemen their steps, all of our collective bargaining units a fair contract, and keep all of our city services intact!
Please feel free to forward this to your friends, family, and coworkers, should you feel so moved.