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DV Pilot police & fire

New Bergen sheriff’s hires will be paid, Donovan’s chief of staff says

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan has approved the hiring of eight new sheriff’s employees who should soon be receiving their first paychecks, her chief of staff told CLIFFVIEW PILOT this afternoon.

“What’s important here is that the paperwork was signed by the county executive and sent for processing this past week,” Jeanne Baratta said. “I know because it came across my desk.

“In fact, I just called one of my staff members to double-check,” she added. “After they were signed, they were sent to personnel to be processed.”

Baratta was responding to claims that Donovan had denied the new hires pay — and health benefits — by refusing to sign request-for-personnel, or M1, forms, which are required before paychecks can be issued.

The move affected six corrections officers who transferred from the state Department of Corrections and two sheriff’s investigators, all of whom have been working since Sheriff Michael Saudino swore them in on June 16, Local 134 President Marcelo Hagopian told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

Donovan also refused to process raises for promoted officers who were also sworn that day, he said.

Hagopian told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that he and union attorney John McCann had a meeting tentatively scheduled with Donovan next week to address the situation.

Meanwhile, he said, leadership of the 426-member union is “looking into how the PBA can give them some kind of compensation.”

Alerted later that Baratta said the forms had been signed, Magopian said, “That’s great. But these guys haven’t been paid in four weeks.”

Baratta said it “ looks like [the new hires] may have been sworn in ahead of the paperwork.”

Those documents first had to come from the Sheriff’s Office to the county Personnel Department, Baratta said. From there, it went to the county CFO for review and a signature before being forwarded to Donovan’s staff, she said.

Donovan “didn’t deny anything,” Baratta said. “She signed them and sent them back to Personnel.”

Hagopian said that doesn’t address the raises of promoted officers.

The dispute escalates the feud between Donovan and Saudino and his staff.

Six weeks ago, a state appeals court ordered Donovan to implement a 2011-2014 contract that she claims Saudino unconstitutionally bargained with the union. The state Appellate Division said only Saudino — and not Donovan — can negotiate contracts with his officers.

Donovan is appealing that ruling to the state Supreme Court. Meanwhile, raises that began in 2011 haven’t been paid.

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