Community News Coronavirus Government Opinion

West Chester lays off borough employee differently than Chester City due to coronavirus

I don’t know if Chester City has the equivalent of a borough manager, but he made the call on the layoffs for his town. He decided to lay off 32 employees, furlough 8, and reduce the hours of one other. The borough manager discussed the layoffs with department heads and borough council.
In West Chester, there’s no guarantee everyone laid off will be rehired. The department heads were left to make the call on which employees to rehire. It’s assumed Chester City will rehire all their laid off employees, but we don’t know for sure.

The West Chester layoffs included 15 public works employees, 10 parking department employees, three administrative/reception workers, three building and housing staffers and one finance employee. Among the furloughs were three finance department employees, two wastewater department workers and one employee in each of the building and housing, parks and recreation, and parking departments. One parking department employee had hours reduced.

Chester City described their workforce reduction as temporary layoffs where their pay stops but health benefits continue, where West Chester has a mixed bag of furloughed employees who will “stay on the books” and likely retain their health care benefits, and laid-off employees who lose their benefits.

Chester City only offered a press release announcing their layoffs where West Chester’s mayor, borough manager, and borough council members spoke to the press and weren’t all in agreement in what went down.
The mayor said…

As mayor, I have no authority over administrative employees of the borough. This is the role of the Borough Manager and Borough Council.

One councilman said…

The borough is experiencing the financial crunch as every business around the country is experiencing and we’re taking actions similar to all of those other entities to get through this crisis and land on our feet…the sewers can’t be cleaned, buildings can’t be inspected and streets can’t all be cleaned.

It was refreshing to know there is a dissenting council person in West Chester who said…

I am deeply concerned about layoffs and furloughs in the borough. My biggest concern is the percentage of borough employees who have been laid off instead of furloughed. I think this sends a sour message to our workforce that they are not valued as they cannot be promised a return to employment once the pandemic is stamped out. It also looks as though we will need to rehire numerous positions as each department returns to normal operations. The borough is headed down the wrong path with the large number of layoffs as we adjust to this stark reality.

It appears the city of Scranton, PA also laid off some folks, so Chester isn’t the only municipality laying off staff. But, Chester City government leaders are very reluctant to talk about it.

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