As reported by, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo apparently doesn’t have to worry about a Democratic Primary opponent, but that doesn’t mean PBA Local 382 won’t refrain from criticizing the controversial Democrat in the strongest possible terms.
PBA Local 382 President Joe Amato is angry at DiVincenzo for praising corrections officers who work at the county jail and touting the jail’s fiscal health, while refusing to pay what he said were agreed-upon contractual salary increments. The local President asked his entire 550 member local and their loved ones to personally contact the Executive, who last year personally endorsed Governor Chris Christie and other county officials.
“To the executive, we are just numbers on a piece of paper that he thinks he can play with for his personal gain and opinion and I need our members to present a human face and a family unit to those numbers and our executive needs to be made to understand that these are people’s lives he’s playing with,” Amato said.
Late in 2013 the County and Local 382 entered into contract negotiations, according to Amato, who sent DiVincenzo written notice that he and his members were fully aware of the lean economic times and understood that the union’s requests in the upcoming contract negotiations would include items that present “little or no cost to the County and only asked that what was in the contract already, be retained.” In that communication, Amato said he also pointed to the jail’s successes and the deserving officers who brought about those successes who Amato says are in the very least deserving and expect to retain what was already promised to them and agreed upon by all parties. Although he received no response to his communication, Amato was confident he made his point.
“In those meetings and in any personal communication with the PBA or between PBA and County attorneys…no one from the County uttered a single word of its intent to arbitrarily break any prior agreements and withhold monies due to hundreds of correction officers and had the audacity to force the PBA to learn of this through jail/county rumor,” Amato said. “The secretive and slanted way it was done flies in the face of even a shred of decency on the County’s part and tramples on the very essence of what’s supposed to be transparent and good faith negotiation practices.”
But the local President stopped short of claiming to be too surprised, reminding members in bulletins of DiVincenzo’s past “self-centeredness and arrogance in past dealings with the PBA,” calling the executive someone “who seems to have regard only for himself and his own political aspirations with little to no regard for employees who he praises one minute when it suits his political needs and then attacks those same employees when it suits his political needs.”
DiVincenzo issued a statement in response to Amato’s criticism. “According to a recent PERC decision, it was determined that governments did not have to pay their employees increments if their union contracts had expired,” DiVincenzo said. “Essex County is in a unique position because the contracts with all of our 26 unions ended in December 2013 and we are abiding with this PERC decision.”

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Photo of Donald C. Barbati Donald C. Barbati

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues…

Donald C. Barbati is a shareholder of Crivelli, Barbati & DeRose, L.L.C. His primary practice revolves around the representation of numerous public employee labor unions in various capacities to include contract negotiation, unfair labor practice litigation, contract grievance arbitration, and other diverse issues litigated before the courts and administrative tribunals throughout the State of New Jersey. In addition, Mr. Barbati also routinely represents individuals in various types of public pension appeals, real estate transactions, and general litigation matters. He is a frequent contributor to the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog, a free legal publication designed to keep New Jersey public safety officers up-to-date and informed about legal issues pertinent to their profession. During his years of practice, Mr. Barbati has established a reputation for achieving favorable results for his clients in a cost-efficient manner.

Mr. Barbati has also handled numerous novel legal issues while representing New Jersey Public Safety Officers. Most notably, he served as lead counsel for the Appellants in the published case In re Rodriguez, 423 N.J. Super. 440 (App. Div. 2011). In that case, Mr. Barbati successfully argued on behalf of the Appellants, thereby overturning the Attorney General’s denial of counsel to two prison guards in a civil rights suit arising from an inmate assault. In the process, the Court clarified the standard to be utilized by the Attorney General in assessing whether a public employee is entitled to legal representation and mandated that reliance must be placed on up-to-date information.

Prior to becoming a practicing attorney, Mr. Barbati served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Linda R. Feinberg, Assignment Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer Vicinage. During his clerkship Mr. Barbati handled numerous complex and novel substantive and procedural issues arising from complaints in lieu of prerogative writs, orders to show cause, and motion practice. These include appeals from decisions by planning and zoning boards and local government bodies, bidding challenges under the Local Public Contract Law, Open Public Records Act requests, the taking of private property under the eminent domain statute, and election law disputes. In addition, Mr. Barbati, as a certified mediator, mediated many small claims disputes in the Special Civil Part.

Mr. Barbati received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Upon graduating, Mr. Barbati attended Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Delaware. In 2007, he received his juris doctorate, magna cum laude, graduating in the top five percent of his class. During law school, Mr. Barbati interned for the Honorable Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey, assisting on various constitutional, employment, and Third Circuit Court of Appeals litigation, including numerous civil rights, social security, and immigration cases.