UNIONS TO BEAR BRUNT OF CUTS

Governor says that since management/confidential workers are sacrificing pay raise, they will be spared layoffs

JAMES M. ODATO CAPITOL BUREAU
Section: Main,  Page: A1

Date: Wednesday, April 8, 2009

ALBANY -- Gov. David Paterson continued to flex his muscle with labor unions Tuesday, releasing a letter that says he is exempting nonunion employees from planned layoffs because they are sacrificing the same pay raises that union workers refuse to give up.


Paterson reduced his layoff target by 200 to 8,700 because "management/confidential" employees -- managers and secretaries who are not in unions -- will be denied the 3 percent pay raises union employees will get under contractual agreements. Paterson used his power to rescind the raises for about 11,000 management/confidential workers.


The governor also revealed a list of the proposed cuts, ranging from 2,021 at Corrections to zero at his executive chamber. Other big hits targeted; 1,434 at the Office of Mental Retardation; 1,054 at Mental Health; 386 at State Police; 366 at Health; 317 at Taxation & Finance; and 245 at Children and Family Services; 100 at General Services.


As a result of killing the raises to the management/confidential employees, the state will save $32 million over two years, and Paterson won't have to reach the 8,900-layoff target he previously set.


Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue said Paterson's actions are outrageous. "What Governor Paterson is saying is that the highest-paid personnel will not be included as part of his cost-cutting moves. He is also saying that the brunt of his reductions will be on the lower paid employees who actually do the work of the state every day."


Some labor officials say it is not possible to bypass nonunion employees to lay off union people in the same title with more seniority. For instance many workers at Civil Service are management/confidential because they handle confidential information but they may have the same title as union people in the same agency.


"People still want their raises," said Barbara Zaron, president of the Organization of Management Confidential Employees. She said a lot of people feel let down by Paterson, who had suggested in previous communications that all workers would be getting raises this month.


"We are in discussions with the (Division of the) Budget and governor's office about some potential alternatives," Zaron said. "We're hopeful that maybe we can get the raises reinstated if we can get the saving from other means."


Paterson released a letter to all state employees about the situation, emphasizing that unions refused "modest concessions" -- giving up the raises and lagging paychecks -- to share in sacrifices others are making.


"Regrettably, however, our state's public employee unions refused to consider concessions at all," Paterson wrote. "I was left with no alternative but to implement a work force reduction plan." He said he directed all state agency heads to implement their reductions by July 1.


"We cannot eliminate our state's deficit without layoffs," he said.


Public Employees Federation officials say the governor's proposed concessions add up to a 5 percent cut in pay. "It is clear that his goal is not to make state government more efficient and cost-effective, but to extract an additional pound of flesh from hardworking public employees" said PEF President Ken Brynien. He said he intends to meet with Paterson today to emphasize there are other ways to come up with the roughly $449 million in savings he seeks through layoffs.


Paterson said union leaders have not been willing to compromise to prevent layoffs. "We felt we had no other choice but to lay these people off until the economy recovers," Paterson said.


Some fiscal watchdogs, including the Citizens Budget Commission, say the governor's layoff number is too small, and that hundreds more could be cut from the payroll.


James M. Odato can be reached at 454-5093 or jodato@timesunion.com.


PULLOUT:


"''Regrettably, however, our state's public employee unions refused to consider concessions at all."


Gov. Patterson








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A7 List of work force targets.