NJ lawmaker threatened while exposing unemployment office
HACKENSACK — A North Jersey lawmaker got a taste of what many of her constituents go through when she went undercover at a state unemployment office.
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, R-Bergen, decided to take video at the office after learning about the trouble that one of her campaign staffers had experienced.
What she found was a single employee servicing a room full of customers. See the video above.
"Many of the people I spoke to this morning wait outside in the cold for upwards of several hours because only five people at a time are generally allowed in the building," she said. "People will wait for three to four hours inside and then find out that they cannot be seen that day."
She said the people waiting in line would be better spending their time out searching for jobs.
"There's got to be a better way," she said.
Schepisi said the office is "completely understaffed." She said the Hackensack office is the main location for Bergen County, which has a population of close to a million people. A lack of proper staffing, according to Schepisi, only "adds to a severe level of frustration."
In the video that she posted to Facebook, an employee is seen telling Schepisi to stop recording, saying it was against the rules.
She said she was told by a guard that if she continued to give out her Assembly business card she would be physically removed.
After speaking with a supervisor, however, she said eventually she was given a "comprehensive tour and analysis of the good, bad and ugly of these offices."
She said she was glad she was not arrested.
"An exciting way to begin a Monday morning," she said.
Schepisi said acting Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo has agreed to meet with her to discuss solutions.
She also said she intends to do more fact-finding missions on the front lines.
"Seeing the response I got just to that impromptu thing yesterday has made me realize there's so many facets of what ordinary citizens go through in our state that many of us just don't even understand," she said. "I've decided that every couple of weeks I'm going to start doing these types of undercover things based upon what my constituents are reaching out to me on."
Calls and emails to the Department of Labor by New Jersey 101.5 seeking comment were not returned.
Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com