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NEON lays off more than 100 employees

NEON employees
Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) employees congregate outside NEON’s home office last week looking for answers after their paychecks bounced.

Updated 10:22 p.m. with additional information; photo added 11:10 p.m.

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON) has laid off “more than 100” employees, according to a press release from interim CEO Tommie Jackson Wednesday evening.

Jackson announced the layoffs at a meeting held Wednesday at NEON’s Stamford office. A source told NancyOnNorwalk that, while the layoffs were announced in the meeting, employees did not find out who was being laid off until later in the day. Employees had to drive to Stamford for the meeting, a hardship for many struggling to find gas money, the source said.

NEON Board of Directors Chairman Michael Berkoff confirmed Wednesday night that the agency has about 50 people remaining on the payroll.

According to the release, the layoffs were necessitated by the recent loss of several program contracts including, federal Head Start, Connecticut Department of Correction halfway houses and Connecticut Court Supported Services Court Support Services Division Alternatives in the Community.

“This was not a desirable outcome, but without funding it was the only appropriate action to take at this difficult moment,” Jackson in the release. “This decision was made to preserve employee rights and their economic dignity.”

The official layoff notice allows NEON employees who had been placed on furlough status, after paychecks during several pay periods were delayed or missed, to apply for unemployment benefits, the release said.

According to the release, Jackson told employees at the meeting that his number one priority is to “make all employees whole,” by working to collect the funds necessary to pay all wages owed to staff by Dec. 1. Jackson pledged that he would forego his own salary until all employees are paid.

No salary had been set for the interim position as of last weekend.

Jackson declared that his overall goal is to restore the credibility and integrity of the agency, in a process he described as “not being painless,” the release said. In the coming week Jackson will initiate a “thorough and serious review” of NEON’s financial control systems, program services and employee functions, the release said, putting new systems and controls in place to ensure that all funds allocated to NEON are properly spent with comprehensive and transparent documentation, the release said.

While discussions between NEON and Community Development Institute (CDI,) have continued in recent days, a date for the re-opening of Norwalk Head Start and child care programs at Norwalk’s Nathaniel Ely School and Ben Franklin Center has not yet been identified, the release said. CDI was appointed by the federal Administration for Children and Families to administer Norwalk Head Start while NEON’s management of the program is under suspension.

Comments

8 responses to “NEON lays off more than 100 employees”

  1. Eric Noris

    How many can be left?

  2. Piberman

    Looks like the new Board had financial and management expertise in mind for a new interim CEO. When in trouble just sack the employees. Be interesting to know which management continues on board to “serve the community”.

  3. M Allen

    Makes sense – if you can’t pay them, then cut them loose so they can collect. But…
    .
    How long does it take to transition to CDI for Head Start? What the hell is the holdup in getting that rammed through? I know government is horrible at adjusting and making changes on the fly (among other things), but this isn’t about funds. The government funds exist. This is about government bureaucracy and red tape allowing these two entities to agree on how its going to be shared space. Now that NEON has fired almost everyone, what is the space being used for and should they retain any of it? Just move CDI in.

  4. BB

    Can a legal eagle clarify, isn’t an employer liable for some of the unemployment benefits when employees are layed off for no fault of the employee? Are there not exsisting contracts that must also be resolved? And what about the contracts for services with the parents? Can parents seek a class relief claim? Than there are the vendors to settle. How many CEO’s does it take, to flip the on switch? Next seat gripping epsisode teaser; Here come the lawyers…

  5. Dawn

    He says he will forgo his salary. We were told there is no money for a salary. I want to know in any uncertain terms. Is he receiving money yes or no. And from whom and from where. I don’t care what they are calling it. Is he receiving money. I doubt he is doing this out of the goodness of his heart.

  6. Neoscam

    @BB. Their SUTA and FUTA (state and federal unemployment tax assessments) will go up. It isn’t 1 for 1 with remuneration from those funds, but it can be a significant expense. This is a clear move to chapter 7 bankruptcy imo. Chapter 11 usually doesn’t see mass layoffs. In other words NEON will no longer be an operating entity soon. This is just a wind down. They’ll pay off any creditors first and if any money is left over to pay bills (unlikely), then its kaput and the entity will no longer be liable for the SUTA and FUTA taxes. Bottom line is the taxpayers will be paying for the unemployment benefits. Hopefully a new charter is established and a clean slate will allow some of these folks to get their jobs back. Time will tell, but the writing is on the wall.
    //
    I still think the outrage here is that none of the former managers have been handcuffed and booked for what is clearly embezzlement and fraud.

  7. Bamboozled

    I think there should be legal action against this entity. How will they understand the wrongdoings of improper management and misallocation if not? It continues to happen but with different leadership. The sad thing is only Chicky is gone…how do you get rid of all the staff but still employ some of the same people who started this mess in the first place!!! New CEO, New Board (allegedly – in body only) same corruption!!!

  8. The Norwalker

    I know for a fact that there employees in programs at NEON that are losing their jobs even though they have done nothing wrong.

    Their program provided their services, all reports were sent in and their funding sources sent funds to NEON where they disappeared. Any money coming into Neon should be used to restore the surpluses some programs should have

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