New Jersey Legislative Trio will give NJDOL an ultimatum
A trio of lawmakers from New Jersey’s 1st District announced on Tuesday that they are prepared to introduce legislation that would require the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development to open the doors of unemployment offices across the province. status for in-person appointments starting March 1, 2022.
If NJDOL Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo and the office do not make it by that date, proposed legislation by Sen. Michael Testa (R), Assemblymen Antwan McClellan (R) and Erik Simonsen (R) would reduce the salary of NJDOL’s top management – the commissioner, deputy commissioner, assistant commissioners and chief of staff of NJDOL – and use this money for the unemployed 5% every two weeks, for the first month and until that all closed state unemployment offices are reopened.
The lawmakers explained that the money from the payment cuts would go into a special Treasury Department fund under an “Unemployed Compensation Fund,” which would reimburse filers harmed by the Department’s inaction.
“Teachers are back in classrooms, first responders are patrolling our streets and healthcare professionals are in facilities caring for our most vulnerable. If they can serve in the community, so can Department of Labor employees,” Sen. Testa said in a statement. “This broken system where Department employees work from their sofas and get paid bi-weekly isn’t working for everyone in New Jersey. Commissioner Asaro-Angelo needs to do his job and order his employees back to work and this bill will incentivize him and his staff to do just that.
“Our office has dealt with countless numbers of people all dealing with the same issue, NJDOL failures, and it’s time to do something about it,” Deputy Simonsen said in a statement. “We will continue to help our constituents because we will not leave them in times of need, but at the same time we must get to the root of the matter, which is that the NJDOL is not responsible for their constant self-creation. Failures: Failures that only hurt already struggling New Jerseyans We will hold NJDOL accountable for these failures We cannot allow government agencies to believe that they are above the responsibility of their actions. New Jerseyans deserve accountability from government agencies and their elected officials.”
“People are fed up and need help, but NJDOL continues to keep its doors closed,” Deputy McClellan said in a statement. “One-Stop Centers are open, but New Jerseyans cannot access many of the necessary NJDOL services at these locations. Schools, department stores and other government offices are open again, but NJDOL has not budged, refusing to open its doors to the very people the department is supposed to help. NJDOL’s unfair and unprofessional actions have embarrassed many New Jerseyans while creating a massive backlog of people waiting for services and benefits. They forget that they are servants of the people, and not the other way around. When a government agency performs on this file, it is time for elected officials to rise up to lead the charge. I am incredibly proud that my fellow District 1 lawmakers are stepping up to do what needs to be done to hold NJDOL accountable.
While Testa, McClellan and Simonsen are happy the one-stop centers are working, they explained that opening those centers up for in-person visits would speed things up, as they relayed in a January letter.
“Many issues that take six to eight weeks to process could be resolved in six to eight minutes with the restoration of in-person services.”
Senator Testa expressed his displeasure, in an interview with Townsquare Media News, at the pat on the back of NJDOL last month over how they handled 2021.
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“You got the Commissioner of the Department of Labor applauded for the great job they did. If I were to give the Department of Labor a grade, they would get, at best, a D,” Testa previously told Townsquare Media News. “Let’s be honest about their performance in the era of Covid-19, they still don’t see people in person. There are thousands and thousands of people my legislative district office has helped.”