TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Aura Dunn slammed the Labor Department’s lack of clear plans to address the demand for in-person unemployment assistance when the services return to the dozen of One-Stop Career Centers around the state on March 28.
“On Monday, March 28, there is going to a lot of deja vu and angry residents. It is going to be the MVC debacle all over again,” Dunn (R-Morris) said. “There is no plan ‘A,’ no plan ‘B,’ and no way for someone to make an appointment. It’s unconscionable.”
In the face of mounting criticism, the labor commissioner announced on March 3 that 12 One-Stop Career Centers would reopen for limited, in-person, appointment-only unemployment help beginning March 28. A message on the state’s unemployment website says that the labor department is reaching out to schedule certain claimants for in-person appointments and additional appointments “may” become available to others at a later date.
“Following my surprise visit to a shuttered Morris County One-Stop Career Center last year, I introduced a resolution to reopen all Labor Department facilities for in-person service,” Dunn said. “It is very disappointing that we have made little progress a year later.”
In February 2022, Dunn revisited the center to find a virtual ghost town with zero unemployment services.
“They’ve reopened on a very limited basis. If you walk in and you need assistance and you don’t have an appointment, you are turned away. What’s more, you still can’t get any services for unemployment,” Dunn said. “A bricks-and-mortar career center, a taxpayer-funded facility, should be open to the public for in-person unemployment assistance.”
Dunn’s resolution (AR119) also calls on the Labor Department to fully staff all public-facing offices at all times.
“All of us working in government are here to serve the public, but the labor department has not met their obligation to the people of New Jersey,” Dunn said. “You cannot tell a resident who can’t feed their children or pay their rent to cross their fingers and hope for a return phone call from a representative. There needs to be a way for people to make an in-person appointment. Any person who wants an in-person appointment should be afforded that opportunity to have the face-to-face interaction they deserve.”