Say If Business Workers Can Serve Customers from Behind Protective Screens, So Can Public Sector Workers
As New Jersey’s unemployment crisis closes in on two months, Senator Michael Testa and Senator Michael Doherty called for Governor Murphy to reopen New Jersey’s One-Stop Career Centers and staff them with idle workers from other State departments.
“A functional unemployment office during an economic downtown is the the epitome of an essential public service, yet hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans continue to go without the unemployment benefits they’ve earned for weeks on end,” said Testa (R-1). “We are calling for an end to busy signals, broken websites, and unanswered emails from the Department of Labor.”
In-person unemployment services at the New Jersey One-Stop Career Center offices was suspended on March 16th in response to the coronavirus.
“Establishing an in-person appointment based approach will help families to get the unemployment benefits they deserve,” added Testa. “After weeks of failing to get through to the State’s unemployment systems electronically, the ability to schedule a meeting in person will provide much need relief to hundreds of thousands of people who are still waiting for help. If private stores like Shop Rite and Target can install protective shields at check out lines, our State can do the same at shuttered unemployment centers that should be reopened to serve New Jerseyans.”
Testa is joining on legislation sponsored by Doherty that would allow inactive State government workers to be reassigned to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) to help process a massive backlog of unemployment claims.
More broadly, the legislation would allow for the temporary reassignment of State and local employees outside of their civil service classifications for up to 30 days during public emergencies.
“Unemployed New Jerseyans are tired of waiting, hoping, and praying that they will receive contact, or better yet a check, from the State’s unemployment office,” said Doherty (R-23). “New Jersey has the manpower and resources to reopen its One Stop Career Centers to address the unemployment backlog. Governor Murphy should take this step immediately to remedy the ongoing failure at the Department of Labor. The inability of his administration to process UI claims in a timely fashion is beyond unacceptable.”
In California, more than 1,300 California state employees have switched jobs to process unemployment claims.