TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner today announced that her district office would be closed for business on Monday, July 13 in order to fulfill the furlough requirements imposed on State workers in order to balance the FY 2009 Budget.
“As far as we can tell, adherence to the furlough policy for Legislative branch employees is entirely voluntary,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “However, my staff and I will be participating in the State worker furloughs, because we believe that as a matter of basic fairness, any salary pain caused by a missed day’s wages should be shared across the board, not limited to a select few. We will re-open for business on July 14, and, moving forward, will continue to review State furlough policies in order to comply with future requirements on State employees.”
Senator Turner noted that her district office was closed on May 22 for the first of two furloughs intended to shore up deficits in the FY 2009 Budget which ended on June 30. Senator Turner said that she would consider abiding by future State policies regarding worker furloughs for her district office staff, but that, because no policies have been set in stone at this point, she has not yet scheduled any additional furloughs for her staff beyond the July 13 furlough date. Senator Turner added that she remains hopeful that the Corzine administration will set future furlough policies and wage freezes based on employee negotiations, noting that the Communications Workers of America (CWA), New Jersey’s largest union representing State employees, last week ratified a compromise contract negotiation offered by Governor Corzine.
“While I understand that wage freezes and furlough days have a major impact on the lowest-paid State workers, I was gratified to see Governor Corzine’s commitment to negotiate the give-backs, rather than impose them unilaterally,” said Senator Turner. “Our State workers understand the dire economic condition our State is in, because they’re facing many of the same problems affecting the rest of New Jersey. That these workers would forego raises and give up paid work days in order to get New Jersey back on the right fiscal track is a testament to their public service.
“The vast majority of the workers affected by furloughs are hard-working, non-political, and committed to providing excellent service to New Jersey’s taxpayers,” added Senator Turner. “Hopefully, our economy will rebound enough that we will be in a better position next year to honor workers’ contracts and restore their full pay, and furloughs will be just a bad memory of tough fiscal times.”
Senator Turner apologized to constituents for any inconvenience caused by the July 13 furlough, but said her staff would be back in on the 14th to address their needs.