New Jersey caseworkers call off boycott
New Jersey child welfare workers who had threatened a work boycott over job security concerns now plan to report to duty Tuesday as scheduled.
Communications Workers of America New Jersey director Hetty Rosenstein told the Associated Press on Monday night that "we worked it out" and that members would be on the job Tuesday.
The Record reported earlier Monday that another union official, Local 1039 president Lionel Leach, had called for workers to stay home on Tuesday "if by Monday every worker is not protected."
The union has been pushing for more security at Department of Children and Families offices around the state since a caseworker was stabbed in an office two weeks ago. The stabbing came days after Department of Human Services police officers who had worked from the offices were redeployed.
Rosenstein would not say Monday night what the state agreed to do to avoid the job action. But armed security guards already were being assigned to the offices.
Gov. Chris Christie's office criticized a possible protest, saying it would hurt vulnerable children and families.
Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for Christie, had harsh words for anyone who would take part in a boycott.
"The job action CWA has been contemplating would be completely irresponsible, and the people hurt most would be the state's most vulnerable children and families," Drewniak said in a statement. "It also makes absolutely no sense since DCF and the administration advised CWA leadership last week of the security enhancements which are being implemented as we speak. CWA should unequivocally state that they will not walk out on DCF clients."
Caseworker Leah Coleman was critically injured when she was stabbed Nov. 18 at an office in Camden. A Cooper University Hospital spokeswoman said she was sent home on Sunday after being treated there for nearly two weeks.
The state began adding armed guards with metal-detecting wands to offices within days.
The administration said that by Monday, 19 of the 40 offices had the enhanced security and the rest were expected to have the new measures in place within the next few weeks. Priority is being given to offices with the biggest caseloads and most foot traffic.