NJ State Workers’ Union sues Murphy, demanding raises

TRENTON — A public workers union announced Wednesday that it is suing Governor Phil Murphy in state court, alleging racial and gender discrimination for not giving its members the same raises given by law to police officers. state corrections.

The lawsuit was brought by the AFSCME New Jersey Council, 63 which represents approximately 6,000 state employees, including frontline workers at New Jersey veterans’ homes, psychiatric hospitals, Development, Department of Children and Families and others.

The union says its members have faced the same conditions and dangers during the COVID pandemic and therefore deserve the same increases as prison guards, whose salaries were increased in March following the enactment of a law in January that sets their minimum annual salary at $48,000.

“We fully support the raises given to state CPOs,” said Steve Tully, executive director of AFSCME New Jersey Council 63. “They deserve it, but so do other staff in similar positions.”

Tully said Murphy “ignored some of the most dedicated and hardworking employees in the state.”

The lawsuit says the disparate treatment of the two unions will widen race and gender pay gaps, as corrections officers are 82% male, of which 43% are white males, while AFSCME members are 67% of women and 82% of minorities, including 47% who are black women.

“We are frontline workers who deserve equal pay,” said Sandra Hebert, president of Paramus Veterans Home Employees. “We had to work with limited staff and because of this all our planned holidays were canceled due to lack of staff. We couldn’t use sick leave.

“It touched all of us,” she said. “Some of us are currently seeing therapists, just to deal with the trauma of pandemic working conditions. It was very stressful, we worked in very bad conditions with not enough PPE. In my establishment, we even lost a colleague due to COVID.

Murphy’s office declined to comment, citing its policy regarding ongoing litigation.

Starting salaries for correctional officers have been increased by 20%. The state also provided 8% increases at all other pay scale rungs for other officers.

A bill unanimously approved by the Legislature and signed by Murphy in January raised the starting salary of correctional police officers to $48,000 and directed that salary adjustments be made to the remaining ranks as well. ‘wage scale.

This pay increase was added to the bill through an amendment four days before it passed, at the end of the two-year legislative session.

The law earmarked $10.3 million to pay for salary increases.

Michael Symons is the Statehouse Bureau Chief for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at [email protected]

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