October 8, 2006

GI Go supports military employment protection bill

Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas has proposed legislation that would bring significant change to the rights of military personnel in the workforce.

Perth Amboy Mayor Joseph Vas has proposed legislation that would bring significant change to the rights of military personnel in the workforce. The Employment Protection for Active Military Personnel bill states that any soldier involved in the active-duty service should be prohibited from being laid off and should be given the ability to receive any job that is open.

“It’s the just thing to do” said Mayor Vas.

Vas said he plans to introduce the bill this week calling for the state Department of Personnel to prohibit layoffs and demotions for any permanent local, county or state public employee on military leave. The bill also would allow any soldier who enters active duty to be required employment if they are qualified for the position.

The bill was introduced after Carlos Gonzalez, a Perth Amboy firefighter currently serving as a Marine reservist in Iraq, became at risk of being laid off from his job. These circumstances caused concern to many in the community, including Gonzalez’s sister Egnita Santana, that our servicemen could be treated with such disregard.

“This is ridiculous that after serving our country and fighting a war that he will be coming home to fight for his job,” said Santana.

While department rules give preference to veterans for hirings and promotions, no exemptions are offered to active duty reservists like Gonzalez. If the bill is introduced, Vas hopes it could be approved quickly and signed by Nov. 15 when the layoffs are expected to be implemented, so Gonzalez's job could be spared.

“This is only the beginning,” said GI Go President Jack Fanous. “We need to work hard to see that this important bill gets passed; not just for Mr. Gonzalez, but for all of our soldiers. It is time that we treat Mr. Gonzalez and all our servicemen and women the way they should be treated; as brave Americans who sacrificed themselves in order to protect each and every one of us. Although guaranteeing them their job is not the ultimate solution, it is an important step in their transition back to civilian life.”