User-agent: * Allow: / Trenton Butcher Block: Go Ahead. Take Lincoln's Birthday Off. I Dare Ya

"Our Liberties We Prize, Our Rights We Will Defend."

Commentary on national and local events from the standpoint of a Trenton city resident and state worker.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Go Ahead. Take Lincoln's Birthday Off. I Dare Ya

Abraham Lincoln was the first member of the Republican Party to be elected president.  He successfully presided over the Civil War and was assassinated by a Confederate sympathiser shortly thereafter.  You would think that a governor who prides himself on his Republican credentials would show more respect for the man who put his party on the map than he has in the following incident.

At the end of the day, Lincoln's Birthday was a normal workday for unionized civilian state employees this year, as it was last year.  However, Governor Chris Christie, who never likes to loose, decided to sow some more confusion because he lost the battle with the unions over the day after Thanksgiving last year.

So he could furlough workers during 2009 and the first part of 2010, Governor Corzine entered into an agreement with the unions called the Memorandum of Agreement.(MOA).  The Governor let us have most of what was in the MOA without any problem.  He didn't mind furloughing us six times in 2010.  He then gave us 8 extra days off to pay us back for being furloughed 12 times in the period from July 2009 to June 2010.

His problem came with the next part of the agreement, which said we got the day after Thanksgiving off and that we would work Lincoln's Birthday instead.  The big fat crybaby said the MOA was not binding and we would nave to work Black Friday.  The union sued and the courts said the agreement was binding and we got Black Friday off. 

However, Governor Christie, like any other schoolyard bully, is a sore looser.  To make his point he said that unionized workers could have Black Friday off, but non-unionized workers such as management, temporaries, and political appointees had to work.  All the big shots used their vacation time and took the day off of course, leaving low-level non-union people on the job.  That meant they had to heat and light the 13-story Labor Building at taxpayer expense for maybe 25 people on Black Friday.

Since bullies never give up, nobody really knew what was going to happen on Lincoln's Birthday until we got there.  Last week, as expected, the governor was back up to his old tricks.  Here is the full text of the memo from the Governor's Office dated 2/7/2011.

From:  Yvonne Catley
Sent:  Monday, February 7, 2011 12:59 PM
To:  Debbie Mahal
Subject:  FW: Lincoln's B-day

To:  All Employee Relations Coordinators and the Nine State Colleges and Universities
From:  Governor's Office of Employee Relations

This notice will address the observance of Lincoln's Birthday on Friday, February 11, 2011 for civilian Executive Branch employees.  Pursuant to 2009 Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by the state and the State's civilian unions, the covered civilian Executive Branch employees received Thanksgiving Friday in 2010 as a paid day off and those same employees agreed to have Lincoln's Birthday in 2011 treated as a regular work day.  Because Lincoln's Birthday 2011 remains a statutory holiday, legislation was needed to change its status to a regular work day.  To date, there has been no legislation adopted to change the date to a regular work day for State Executive Branch employees in 2011.  Beginning in 2012, the law provides that Lincoln's Birthday will no longer be a holiday for state employees.
Although civilian Executive Branch employees, who normally have off on a holiday will not be compelled to worked that day, you should be aware that the Governor's office will be open and fully staffed that day and employees reporting to work will be allowed  to work. The Governor understands that this may create inequities, in that certain MOA employees will have received an  extra day off on the state after Thanksgiving 2010, pursuant to the MOA.  The Governor intends to address those issues in the future.  Law enforcement personnel, not covered by a MOA, will operate under the terms of their collective bargaining agreements.  (Italics and bold type not in original)

What's really going on here?  First, since we took Lincoln's Birthday off last year under the MOA as a mandatory furlough day, the problem isn't that Lincoln's Birthday has to be a paid day off.  The governor just seems to say that the day has to be a day off

And if that's the case, why is he forcing his employees in the Governor's Office to work.  They are not under the MOA.  They are non-union and should be entitled to celebrate the day just as any other state employee.

My guess is he wants the law changed so that the day is no longer a state holiday.  I don't know why.  The law already says that it will no longer be an official holiday starting in 2012, so what's the rush.

The only explanation is that he is a crybaby.  He wanted to try to bully the unions to work on Black Friday against our agreement with the previous governor and he lost.

What gives about the sentence in bold type.  The one that says  The Governor intends to address those issues in the future.   Everything before this says that everyone can take Lincoln's Birthday off except police and correction officers, regardless of the MOA.  Sure sounds like some kind of threat to me.  Just like the headline says, here is this holiday, you can have it off.  I dare ya!

What was the union's response to this memo.  Read their memo below:

To All CWA Members

As you know, under our MOA, we got the Day After Thanksgiving off and we agreed to work on Lincoln's Birthday.  The Christie Administration tried to violate the MOA and make everyone work on the Day After Thanksgiving.

Now, they have sent out a completely incomprehensible memo about Lincoln's Birthday.  Please be clear:

Lincoln's Birthday is a regular workday, and not a paid holiday for those who fall under the MOA.  We had off the day after Thanksgiving.

If you take off on Lincoln's Birthday, you need to be on approved leave.  If you have not been approved leave to be off on Lincoln's Birthday, GO TO WORK.

Now there is a first.  The management is telling people it is OK to take off and the union says go to work.  We live in a strange world, don't we.

On Wednesday, the labor Department's employment relations officer issued a memo which said that if you are non-union, then Lincoln's Birthday was a normal workday and that if you were nonunion, you could take the day off as a paid holiday.

This time we get the Indians reporting for work and the chiefs staying home.  Makes sense.  When the cat's away, the mice will play.  Now that's real efficient employee management for you.

Lincoln's Birthday was celebrated Friday February 10th.  What really happened?  Lots of people took off and we had about half our normal staffing.  Most people used their own time and took a 3 day weekend.  Management of course took the paid holiday off.

I don't believe too many people did not "get the memo" from the union and their immediate supervisors (who are also union members).  Practically all union people not on leave went to work like they should have.

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