Camden City Approves Layoff of All Dispatchers, Sends Work to Camden County

Camden ( Updated 10/27/17) - The City of Camden City Council approved the layoff of all City Public Safety Telecommunicators (PSTs) effective December 31 at special meeting on October 14. Camden County will take over the service on January 1. PSTs explained what the layoff would mean to their families and described the past service to the City and its residents. Several of the PSTs informed Council that they had applied for a position with Camden County but had been denied a job after failing a test designed for new PSTs. Others noted the significant loss in pay (25% of their current pay or more) and loss of credit for retirement health benefits in taking a position with Camden County. 

Local 1014 President Karl R. Walko told Council that they should not approve the layoff plan unless every City PST who wanted to work for Camden County was hired. He noted their loyalty to the City and its residents through some extremely difficult circumstances after mass layoffs drastically reduced the number of PSTs in 2011 and forced the remaining PSTs to pick up the slack while handling increased problems resulting from the reduction in the City police force that happened at the same time. Subsequently, they worked through the shutdown of the City Police Department, takeover of police services by Camden County and walked numerous new police recruits through their early patrols when many did not really know the City or the problems they faced. 

Despite the testimony of the dispatchers and the plea of Local 1014 on their behalf, Council went ahead with the layoff plan approval. 

Camden County officials attending the meeting indicated that Camden County would allow City PSTs who applied but were not hired to apply again in January when additional openings would be available. However, there was no assurance that the applicants would be hired at that time.