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Friday, September 2, 2011

State unions win a provisional victory; Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder delays layoff notifications

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State of Michigan employees won
provisional victory, as Gov. Rick Snyder
(R) delays layoffs scheduled for Oct 1st

State of Michigan Employees won a temporary reprieve on Thursday, September 1st, 2011 as Gov. Rick Snyder (R) office delayed the possible layoff of up to 47,000 civil service workers to help balance the 2011-12 fiscal year budget.

Governor Snyder’s spokeswoman Sara Wurfel stated to the Detroit Free Press, Snyder wanted more time review some of the alternative suggestions of unions, which include reducing levels of administrative staffing and cutting payments by 10% to state contractors.
Snyder will continue efforts to convince employee unions to reopen contracts a year early to make concessions, spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said.
"He thinks it's more important to do it right than to do it quickly," Wurfel said to the Detroit Free Press, Gov. Snyder is "strongly committed to working with the unions."
Perhaps, Gov. Snyder change in tone on how to negotiate with state employees’ unions have been coupled with the reality of Michigan’s unemployment rate of 10.9% in August 2011 and, his 32% overall approval rating among potential voters. Another 69% of Michiganders believe that Gov. Snyder policies are taking the state in the wrong direction.

Michigan House Representative Fred Durhal, Jr. (D-District 6) spoke on the provisional victory for civil service employees on Reach Out Job Search Radio program Thursday night.
I was at a rally this afternoon of state employees in front of the Cadillac Place which is the state government building. And they were protesting the fact that some of them are scheduled to be lay off. The Governor has decided not to do that, at least not to look at that right now. They are seeking $262 million dollar in concessions from public employees.”
Snyder’s decision to delay lay-offs of civil services employees, come on the heels of another victory by state of Michigan employees’ unions on Friday, August 26th, when the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against governmental budget-balancing move by former Gov. Jennifer Granholm, to devote 3% of their pay to cover retiree health care benefits, unconstitutional.
“(State employees) have been asked year, after year, after year to give up, give up, give up give. My statement was at a point, you don’t have anything to give. I think it’s’ crazy to expect state employees to balance the budget”, he said.

“It is not their fault…every one of those people that work for the government; we should look at them as gold. They have a job, they pay taxes, they go in the community and go to the stores and shop….their money go around the community and comes back”, Rep. Dural, Jr. cited.
Rep. Durhal, Jr. noted on Reach Out Job Search Radio that massive layoffs of state employees costs all Michigan citizens in the long run, compounding fiscal budgetary balance issues later.
“The alternative for that is to lay those (State employees) off and put them on unemployment, which was reduced down from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. And after they do the extensions, if they have any, then go to onto social services. (Next) we carry them for up to 48 months based on what they done just recently,” he cited. 
“In both cases, we pay 100% of unemployment, 100% of welfare get nothing back. They need to work. We don’t need to add to the unemployment rate. We need to keep the folks we have and try to find something else to do”, he replied.
Michigan budget adopted by the Republican controlled Legislature and signed by Snyder in May 2011, was framed around achieving $262 million in savings from employee concessions. Union leaders, based on their contracts termination dates, have rightfully declined requests to reopen negotiations, as their agreements don't expire until the end of 2012.

Governor Snyder’s spokeswoman Sara Wurfel noted Snyder will send a formal request to the Civil Service Commission to analyze staffing ratios, make recommendations and analysis potential savings from reducing fees to state contractors.

Snyder’s budget officials’ claim state government has sought concessions from its contractors on three occasions in recent years, with little to show for it.

Wurfel noted to the Detroit Free Press any contractor based savings probably couldn’t come quickly enough to balance the budget in 2012, an assertion Mel Greishaber, Executive Director for the Michigan’s Corrections Organization disputed.
"What they're saying if they won't try it is that they think vendors can't be squeezed, but state employees can be," Greishaber cited.
Contract costs also are under review, Wurfel said. 

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