The Norwalk Common Council heard from several residents Tuesday night who are upset about the circumstances of their unemployment.
They were employed as custodial workers by Premier Maintenance, which was contracted to provide maintenance services at the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium until the end of 2013. The Aquarium ended its contract with Premier as part of overall cost cuts, which also included salary reductions for Aquarium staff. After losing its contract with the Aquarium, Premier laid off the workers who had been placed there.
"It wasn't fair what happened to them and I think we should really think of them and their families," said council member Eloisa Melendez. "Especially for the ones that were working there 14 years. To just lose their jobs like that is just very unfortunate and I feel like we should do something for them."
The aquarium released a statement that its decision to terminate its contract with Premier Maintenance was part of across-the-board cost-cutting measures that included salary reductions for other staff employees.
"The maritime is a tax-payer funded institution, which pays nothing to rent to the city of Norwalk and is slated to receive a half million dollars in 2015 from the department of economic and community development," said The Rev. Nellie Mann. "So with that being said you mean to tell me that you can't keep these these people on?"
Mayor Harry Rilling and councilmembers David Watts, John Igneri and Jerry Petrini discussed the matter with aquarium representatives that morning.
"We agreed that we're going to come up with some resolution, some way that we can try to work this out so we can account for the needs of people that were laid off as well as be respectful of the financial situation of the Maritime Aquarium."