Gov. Murphy: State worker return to in-person work delayed to set up COVID-19 testing program
All state workers were supposed to be back at work in person this past Monday, but this did not happen.
Gov. Phil Murphy said on Wednesday that this was because the state needed time to implement a testing option for workers who have chosen not to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I would like a magic wand, and we all get back in position – in office – safely…We think this is the most responsible way to do it,” Murphy said.
The fact that state workers are not back in the office is upsetting to some Republican legislators.
“He said it’s been in the works for weeks, that they were going to phase in the openings. So he knew, he knew they weren’t opening fully on Monday, Oct. 18,” says Republican state Sen. Kristin Corrado.
Murphy said in August that state workers would be back at their desks Oct. 18 and that they would be fully vaccinated, along with teachers. Since then, the governor has backed off this plan, delaying the full-time return to work for employees who don't work in the Department of Labor, Motor Vehicle Commission or Department of Children and Families.
“Clearly the remote is not working. If it was, we still wouldn’t have a call center that’s being outsourced out of state,” Corrado says.
Corrado says that she is baffled as to why state offices like unemployment centers are not open full time.
“I don’t understand why those offices are not open. Even more troubling is the email that we did receive saying they may not open until 2022,” Corrado says. “That’s unacceptable. It makes no sense at all.”
Corrado says that government offices should never close.
“When the pandemic hit and when there's a crisis, government should be your first resource. It should be the first entity you can pick up the phone and get help, and you can't do that in this state,” she says.
Workers at the Department of Labor, the state Motor Vehicle Commission, and the state Department of Children and Families all returned to work Monday, in addition to employees on the governor's staff.
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