John Metro is a familiar face to those who follow city council meetings, where week after week he can be heard opining on all manner of municipal finance and operations.
Unknown to many, however, is Metro’s other apparent job. According to documents obtained by the Jersey City Times pursuant to an Open Public Records request, Metro’s job now includes the management of 69 highly paid “laborers” officially classified as “temporary” and “seasonal.”
For seemingly part-time workers, their compensation has been generous, to say the least. The average pay in 2022 came in at $58,809. That average, reduced by a small number who made less than $10,000, is misleading however.
In 2022, a temporary, seasonal laborer named Randolph Condi earned $159,140, more than both Jersey City’s Municipal Prosecutor, Jake Hudnut, and Director of Planning, Tanya Marione. Thomas Bossert, also temporary and seasonal, made $134,307. Another such worker, named Stephen Lubowiecki, brought home $136,088. Twelve others made over $70,000 each.
In 2021 and 2022, Metro’s team of temporary, seasonal laborers cost the city $4 million.
Santo Della Monica, President of Local 245 which represents, among others, Jersey City workers at the Department of Public Works, remembers when he first heard of Metro’s team. “I got complaints from my membership that these guys were making more money than them and that they were working in city hall.”
However, because his members were all working and hadn’t lost any overtime, the union’s attorney told him he had no recourse.
Nonetheless, Della Monica says his members could do the work at a fraction of the cost. “My lead carpenter is a craftsman.” He earns approximately $85,000. However, he is at the top of the pay scale. Other skilled tradespeople working for the city earn approximately $70,000.
According to Della Monica, his members are as skilled as those working for the Business Administrator. “My guys are not only qualified, they are certified by the state of New Jersey Civil Service.”
Metro’s team of laborers has also built interior offices at the Department of Public Works and a shooting range nearby.
“My plumbers are complaining about the bathrooms they put in at city hall. My guys are called in to do maintenance.”
Della Monica says that in 26 years working for the city, he’s never seen a team of tradespeople run out of city hall. Two experts in municipal governance and finance, who asked that their names not be used due to ongoing work in Hudson County, agreed. “I’ve never seen anything like that” said one. Another called it “unusual.”
Whether there’s an explanation for Metro’s expensive temporary, seasonal laborers is, as yet, unknown. Jersey City’s spokesman did not respond to an email requesting comment.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the lead carpenter for the city, referred to by Mr. Della Monica, earns roughly $70,000 per year.