Eight West Orange police officers will lose their jobs Tuesday after an overwhelming union vote rejected a four-year contract for the department, union officials have confirmed with Patch. Another 16 officers will be demoted.
The 62-4 vote at 5 p.m. Monday for the layoffs turned down a 7.5 percent concession to salary for benefits and 2 percent increases in salary for 2012 and 2013. The superior officers' union voted 26-6 to reject the contract to avoid demotions.
"We've notified the town of the results," said West Orange Police Officer and Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Christopher Jacksic. "I had eight layoffs and four people voted yes and even those being laid off voted no."
West Orange Mayor Robert Parisi said the vote is "disappointing," as the township is wrestling to balance a roughly $3.4 million deficit.
"I wish we could have come to turns for the sake of the community and the sake of the jobs," he said. "We'll continue to work towards resolving these issues."
Jacksic said the police department has different needs than the fire department. "We made numerous offers to (the township) ... numerous suggestions and we were trying to work in conjunction with one another," he said.
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Township police had taken their cause public in recent weeks by distributing flyers around the township, attending council meetings and creating a Facebook page, "Don't Layoff West Orange Police."
Parisi said his administration is working to put a re-organization plan in place by Wednesday for the police department. As part of the plan, he said, police officers will be pulled from schools. "We can't afford that luxury in this climate," he said.
Jacksic said with less officers, the department is going to have challenges. "It's going to be more difficult on the street," he said. "We will do the best to keep the public safe."
Jacksic said the union has no plans to take the township to court over the layoffs. "We haven't found anything illegal with the layoff plan," he said. "There were other ways to remedy this, but they didn't agree."
This is a breaking news story. Continue to check Patch for updates.