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Union president: We had no knowledge of cuts to city budget to fund Jersey City schools

The president of Jersey City’s largest municipal civilian union said he was caught off guard by Mayor Steve Fulop’s proposal to cut $10 million from the city budget to help fund the school district. The $250 million school funding plan, which Fulop unveiled Tuesday, includes limiting overtime for municipal workers and offering buyouts to trim the city budget.

“We had no knowledge. I had no knowledge,” said Julio Cordero Jr., president of Public Employees Union Local 246. “There was nothing that was said to the unions, as far as I’m concerned.”The voluntary buyouts would save the city $2.2 million, while the overtime reductions would save an additional $2 million.

The city would also save an extra $2.3 million by reducing the number of police and fire recruits that join the departments in 2020. The police and fire unions are separate from Cordero’s union.

Cordero, who works as a police dispatcher, said many of his union’s 600-plus members rely on overtime payments to make ends meet.“You have people that work for the city and still collect welfare,” he said.Local 246 has been working without a new contract for more than a year, and city officials mentioned nothing about the cuts in negotiations, even during a meeting on the day of the plan’s unveiling, Cordero said.“You’re blindsiding everybody,” he said. “How can you logically take money from Peter to pay Paul and (say) everything is going to be good?”

“We value all the union employees, and we intend to fully respect every single aspect of the contracts that were negotiated between the unions and City Hall on salary and benefits,” said Jersey City spokeswoman Kim Wallace-Scalcione.

“We have a responsibility to the taxpayers that we can’t just hammer homeowners, we have a responsibility to the children in the schools, and a responsibility to the city employees to which we are respecting all of them in this process.”

-Julio Cordero -

I fight for the underdog and right now there are employees that work for the city and have to be on welfare or have a secondary job because of the low pay wage. It’s real nice to have portraits on building, green space for bicycles, change traffic lanes in the area of Newark ave, Bergen ave, journal square, and more to come, on the backs of the tax payers and now have money taken from another unit to be placed in the school system. I was never advised on this action as the union president and I do not think any other union president was advised. To dispatch you have to pass a background test, you have to pass an interview, you have to pass a typing test, you have to pass the classroom work, you have to pass the on the job training, you have to multitask, you have to work under stress, you have to compose yourself under stress and be monotone while doing your job and not everyone can do the job. I as the President of Local 246 will fight to have a proper contract for my members. To provide service and safety is priority one. When you have an issue and you need Police, Fire, Food, Permit, Inspection, Medical Guidance, exact, the person on the other end is a civilian employee that is providing service and they are underpaid but provide the best service for the city. You could never fathom what an employee for the city has to go through with management and the administration in order to function properly. I don’t worry about my OT because I can do other work. I worry about the 600 plus members that provide service for the City to move forward and are undervalued. Julio Cordero Jr President Local 246

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