Plaintalker will be checking today on reports of layoffs at the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority. Meanwhile, here is more from the May 5 joint meeting:
Among many topics raised when the City Council met this month with officials of the Plainfield Municipal Utilities Authority, Councilwoman Gloria Taylor urged PMUA Executive Director Daniel Mejias to help workers become "upwardly mobile."
Taylor, a retired educator and administrator, told Mejias she was glad he was giving her former students "a chance," especially those coming out of prison.
The authority has made a point over its 20-year history of being one of the few employers that welcomes parolees.
Taylor said the PMUA needs to help the staff she called "garbage men" to become upwardly mobile "so they can become effective citizens."
Sixty-three percent of PMUA employees are from Plainfield, something of interest because members of the governing body frequently stress the need for companies doing business in Plainfield to hire city residents.
Taylor said PMUA workers "need career ladders."
Mejias said the authority had promoted four people from within to managerial positions and the thought that he would bring in his own people wasn't the case.
Reacting to Taylor's characterization of some workers, Mejias, who introduced himself as someone with 22 years of experience in the solid waste industry, said, "When you say 'garbage man,' I stand before you as a garbage man."
Taylor said she did not mean her remark to be demeaning and again cited the need for a career ladder.
But while advocating a career ladder, Taylor also called the authority "top-heavy."
The same has been said about the city's Public Works Division, but Public Works Superintendent John Louise has described his supervisors as employees who have earned titles, but are still hands-on to get work done. In all probability, PMUA managers do the same.
Mejias said the number of PMUA employees was 171 in 2012, but is now 133, including commissioners. There are five commissioners and two alternates who vote only when needed to make a quorum. Currently, one alternate seat is vacant.