Why Layoff Notices From States Are More Common Than Layoffs
By Melissa Maynard, Staff Writer
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation began issuing 26,000 layoff warnings on Friday — far more than the 6,000 letters per day that its mail room has the capacity to handle, according to an inter-office email obtained by The Sacramento Bee . It's also a much larger number than the number of workers who are ultimately likely to lose their jobs.
In this case, the overabundance of layoff warnings is geared toward maximizing managerial flexibility as Governor Jerry Brown's administration moves some state correctional services to local governments, according to reports in the Bee . California state workers have been conditioned to disregard layoff notices, the Bee explains, but many are taking the threat of layoffs more seriously this time because the layoffs are likely to be widespread even if they fall short of 26,000.
There are a host of reasons why layoff notices tend to be more common than actual layoffs. Sometimes, administrations issue more layoff notices than they anticipate needing in order to gain some wiggle room in case it becomes necessary to shed additional jobs. According to the Bee , California "generally issues three termination warning letters for every one job it intends to cut."
Often, management uses layoff notices to gain leverage in labor talks. It can bring a sense of urgency to negotiations and force unions to consider salary or benefits concessions as an alternative. Then there are procedural questions: The labyrinth of civil service requirements, labor laws and contract agreements governing the circumstances and process by which workers may be laid off varies dramatically by state, and often requires long lead times.
For example, thousands of state workers in New York and Connecticut recently received layoff notices during protracted standoffs between labor and management over proposed concessions. Very few state workers ultimately lost their jobs in the Connecticut showdown after an agreement was finally reached, as Stateline has reported . In New York, rank-and-file workers in the state's second largest union, the Public Employees Federation, will begin voting this week on a new agreement after rejecting a similar contract earlier this fall, reports the Associated Press . In the interim, 3,500 layoff notices have been issued, providing affected workers with a forceful incentive to vote yes on the new labor deal.