Pink Slips Go Out to 4,743 Connecticut Workers
By Melissa Maynard, Staff Writer
ON NOTICE: Labor negotiations aimed at finding $2 billion in savings over the next two years through worker concessions have stalled in Connecticut , prompting Governor Dannel Malloy to send layoff notices to 4,743 employees in more than 40 agencies, the Hartford Courant reports . The number of layoffs could increase if proposed budget cuts in state programs are approved by the legislature. "We held off on any layoff notifications while we tried to complete a deal over the weekend and on Monday night," Malloy said in a statement. "Unfortunately, absent an agreement and in order to comply with contractual notice requirements and the provisions of the budget agreement signed last week, we need to begin those notifications today.'' Union leaders are continuing to meet with Malloy's chief negotiator to search for a deal.
OUTSOURCED: A fight is brewing among budget negotiators in Washington State about the privatization of some back-office functions, the News Tribune reports . A state law that took effect in 2005 requires that the state give unionized workers the opportunity to try to prove they can do the job cheaper before outsourcing services to private companies. Some legislators argue that the process is unnecessarily cumbersome, and would like to exempt back-office services such as printing in order to facilitate privatization. "These are things that government's doing that there are 100-plus people in the private market that are capable of doing those kinds of services," state Senator Joe Zarelli, lead budget negotiator for the Republicans, told the News Tribune . Under the 2005 law, some functions that are candidates for outsourcing have gone forward as planned, while others have remained in the hands of state employees, such as graphic designers and custodians.
PENSION PLAN: Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is expected to sign a pension overhaul that stops short of a move to a 401(k)-style plan that many Republican legislators were pushing, reports the Associated Press . The measure forms a commission to study whether the state should make the 401(k) move, while taking other measures to address the state's projected $7.7 billion funding gap for pensions through 2033. It gives workers a choice between increases in contributions or decreases in benefits. About 131,500 teachers and government employees currently contribute 4 percent of their salaries toward their pensions. They will have the option of paying 6 percent and receiving a slight increase in benefits or staying at 4 percent and seeing a significant drop in benefits. About 20,000 employees hired after June 2009 already pay 6 percent of their salaries, and will have to choose between foregoing future cost of living adjustments or boosting contributions to 8 percent.
NINE TO FIVE: Utah will be going back to a traditional eight-hour, five-day workweek, the Deseret News reports . Since 2008, agencies have worked 10-hour days, four days a week, with state offices closed on Fridays. That change was intended to save money on energy costs from heating and lighting state buildings. The move has led some citizens to complain about losing access to many state services on Fridays and has also gotten mixed reviews from state employees. Governor Gary Herbert vetoed a bill to go back to the traditional schedule, but in a surprise move, the state legislature overrode him. The law will allow agencies flexibility to come up with their own staffing plans, but will require them to operate nine hours a day, Monday through Friday.