Assemblyman Kevin Rooney (R-40) wants Labor Commissioner Robert “Rob” Asaro-Angelo to fix a
weeks long backlog of unemployment claims or resign, but the commissioner’s sticking around, according to Governor Phil Murphy.
“Kevin’s a good guy, a very good public servant, and I consider him a friend but Rob’s not going anywhere,” Murphy told reporters this afternoon at the War Memorial, referring to Commissioner Asaro-Angelo. “This is a 500-year flood. Rob and his team have laid it out. That’s not making up for anyone’s frustratons. I dont blame you.”
But if someone believes the labor commssioner is not going above and beyond, Murphy added, he or she needs to go to another state for a comparison.
Murphy said he knows it won’t give any comfort to the frustrated, desperate or upset.
But, “New Jersey’s performance in this regard is in a different place,” Murphy said. “I respect Kevin but Rob’s doing a great job and he’s not going anywhere.”
Earlier today, Rooney said his office is currently handling hundreds of open unemployment cases in his district. After waiting six weeks to get a return call, one constituent was put on hold for three hours before being disconnected.
“Fixing the current systemic problems with unemployment clearly requires new leadership,” said the Bergen assemblyman. “Since Murphy won’t reopen the economy to maintain jobs, he needs to fix unemployment immediately.
“I’ve heard excuses and blame, but not the leadership and action that is needed to help,” said Rooney. “Over a million New Jerseyans are without jobs and in dire need of a financial lifeline. But, there doesn’t seem to be any ideas coming forward to fix the problems.”
A total of 1,017,99 workers filed jobless claims since the beginning of the state economic shutdown, the assemblyman noted. While the number of new claims each week has decreased, the list of those trying to get through to the department has grown longer.
William T. Mullen, President of the New Jersey Building & Construction Trades Council, likewise backed
“In a time of crisis, we look to our leaders to bring us together. It is shameful that Assemblyman Kevin Rooney is instead using the position given to him by his constituents to attack a hardworking public servant. I have no doubt that Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo and the employees at the department are working around the clock to meet the needs of the now over one million New Jerseyans who have filed for unemployment.
“This is not a time to play politics,” he added. “The people filing for unemployment are not a statistic to be tossed around in political discourse. They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons who provide the financial foundation for their families. A real leader rolls up their sleeves and gets to work as Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo has done. They do not throw cheap shots for a headline.”