Here is an editorial about Monmouth County based Nursing Home :
Think for a moment about 85-year-old Mary and 90-year-old John, who live at the J.L. Montgomery and Geraldine L. Thompson nursing facilities. They’ve lived all their lives in Monmouth County, and were productive and law-abiding citizens. Now they face a difficult future, suffering from any number of serious medical conditions that require 24-hour nursing care.
At this point in their lives, Mary and John cannot eat, bathe or go to the bathroom without assistance. Fortunately, the nurses and aides at J.L. Montgomery and Geraldine L. Thompson are there when they need them.
Mary and John see less and less of their relatives and friends, and have come to view their caregivers as family. They are there for them each morning with a smile of reassurance. They bake cakes on their birthdays; they make sure they have a gift at the holidays. These caretakers, all public employees, do this even though they have more and more Marys and Johns to care for each day, and less and less time to spend with these vulnerable patients.
These caregivers are the same Monmouth County employees the Asbury Park Press criticized for being "intransigent" and trying to "extort wage hikes from fellow citizens" ("Unions remain intransigent," editorial, Jan. 31). Many have worked at J.L. Montgomery and Geraldine Thompson for 25 years or more, and yet earn barely enough to make ends meet. Their annual salaries are less than $29,000 per year.
Like the rest of us, these employees are struggling to pay rent, make car payments, support their families and stay out of bankruptcy. Their reward is the smile they get back from Mary or John once in a while, and the "thank you, dear," when they tuck them in at night.
But Monmouth County’s administrators and freeholders, as well as the Asbury Park Press, have a different reward in mind for nursing home employees and other county workers. Their "thank you" is to blame the employees and their unions for the county’s fiscal woes, as if the real causes of the present predicament weren’t decades of patronage, corruption and overspending, most of which has been well-chronicled during the past few years in the Press.
Make no mistake about it: The measures being proposed by the administrators and freeholders are designed to get headlines (which the Press gladly will provide) and get them re-elected (we’ll see). The county has taken a divide-and-conquer approach to these labor matters. Our members are being asked to give up their negotiated raises in order for the county not to consider laying off their fellow workers.
However, there is nothing preventing Monmouth County from accepting the wage concessions from workers and then turning around and laying off employees for financial reasons.
Our union also represents library workers in Monmouth County, who earn on average $31,000 per year and have advanced degrees. Our members’ work in the libraries has been lauded by the public and their good deeds have been well-documented in the Press.
AFSCME Council 73 represents the lowest-paid groups of workers in Monmouth County. We are committed to speaking up not only for our members but also for Mary, John and the other citizens of Monmouth County who rely on county services.
Quick fixes got us into the current mess. Thoughtful solutions and responsible decision-making are what we need from our elected officials. But all we are getting are sound bites, sloganeering and politics as usual.
No one likes to be barked at and told that we are the cause of all the county’s ills. We still are waiting for true discussions to take place in Monmouth County.
By Gerard J. Meara, APP.COM