This is the first time I’ve felt like a worthless employee in my entire life. I’ve worked for state universities, private housing corporations in conjunction with a university housing program, as a teacher, a private business tutor & developer, a customer service representative for so many companies from pharmaceuticals to super markets, yet this is the first time I have ever been treated like a second class citizen. It seems like just because I work for this employer, I am making a sacrifice that is beyond what I have ever had to sacrifice. I get that the state is in a budget crisis. I also understand that there are so many other people that are NOT supportive of the state workforce because of the stigma “we” have gotten in the press by the misdeeds of other persons.
I’m a tax payer too. I work for an agency that is doing some good. I work for the children of this state. I work for the citizens of this state. Soon, I’ll be a proponent for children of this state at the federal level. I have to know legislation and contractual obligations from the top of my head at anytime of the day. I have to deal with an angry parent and an uncooperative insurance company. I have to try to help them meet in the middle, but who is affected the most are the children who do not have a voice.
Now the governor, on top of taking away the annual raise (which is a mere 4% of what we make annually) he is going to have 70% of the state workers on an unpaid furlough one day out of each week, saying that he can save over $30 million for each day of furlough. I don’t know how he’s coming up with these numbers, because the employees who are affected all have salaries under the $100,000 per year. I have worked very hard for the last two years to reach the grade that I just received, and the pay I deserve for my studies, work, and perseverance. I’m starting to feel like I’m doing something good, and this man, who’s not even my boss, is telling me that I am not going to be paid (or that I could be one of the 100,000 workers that will have to take a furlough day.
People who work in the private sector are up in arms because we are Union workers, and have rights under a contract signed and agreed to by the governor and the legislature. They say we’re selfish. I wonder what someone would think if their life were disrupted by a breach of contract. How have they been treated when they breached a contract themselves. It’s illegal, plain and simple. Because he’s an elected official, he thinks that he can do this. It was his mismanagement of funds, as well as agreeing to allow certain members of the legislature to pad their pockets for their own “pet projects” that may, or may not benefit the public. How is this my fault? Are these elected officials/appointees, who have jobs outside their elected capacity going to fore-go their pay? Do they realize how this is going to hurt the public?
It’s a trickle down effect. Think about the wait times at the DMV, Social Services, Medicaid offices, and the already understaffed agencies who had to make 3% cuts, then 5% cuts, then another 3% cuts, then another 7% cuts. Talk about nickle and diming. The division I work for saw the budget issue coming, and donated the remainder of their personal budget to help out the state, but was continually asked to cut more and more. We cut employees, we have a freeze, we are keeping employees who are living up to the public’s view of state workers, but can we do anything about it? No.
It’s such a double-edged sword. I’d love a 4 day work week, but I’d also love to get paid, so I choose to work 5 days a week. I’m a responsible adult who has bills, rent, and school loans to pay. If I have to take another forebearance from my loans, that puts more strain on the bank.
People think we have it SO GOOD, but we work for what we get. We put up with having to study and struggle for any kind of raise, or grade change. We don’t just get to have a nice bonus for Christmas. We have to contribute to retirement, and if we want something more in our future, we contribute to personal IRA’s, Deferred Compensation programs, personal savings accounts. But we pay for these things, they’re not just given to us. It seems that people who bash state employees think we get all of this for free. We don’t.
I had to work for the job I have. I waited patiently, working a job that was minimum wage. I struggled personally and professionally for three years while I waited for the opportunity to interview for state jobs. Do these people understand how hard it is to get a job with the state? I worked for my Masters degree so I could do something with it. Now I am. I want to learn more, but my schedule and my pay don’t allow me to continue my education at this time.
Our division does not have flex time, so if I have a doctor’s appointment, I have to take time. I make sacrifices because of chronic illness. I can’t control everything that happens in my life. When it’s gone, it’s gone! Can I afford to be one of the 100,000? No.
I wish I could come up with an equivalent to the private sector, but right now I’m only thinking about what’s going to happen to me. I’m sorry if that’s selfish, but I don’t think it’s fair for others to bear the burden of my responsibilities. I am only human after all.
Paterson: OK furloughs
100,000 state workers face a day off without pay, unions say no way
By CASEY SEILER, State editor (TimesUnion.com)
First published in print: Wednesday, April 28, 2010
ALBANY — Gov. David Paterson will ask the Legislature today to approve putting 100,000 state workers on furlough without pay for one day per week until the state budget has been hammered out.
With the state budget almost a month late, the furlough plan is the governor’s new cash-saving proposal as talks with the Legislature continue to stalemate.
Public employee unions are drawing up battle lines to oppose the furlough, which the governor wants to start on May 10.
“Nuts,” was the one-word statement issued by CSEA President Danny Donohue, echoing the famous U.S. response to the German demand for surrender during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II.
“Gov. David Paterson’s proposal to furlough state employees is illegal,” said PEF President Kenneth Brynien. ” … We will take every action necessary to stop the governor’s proposal.”
Although details were still being worked out, state Budget Director Robert Megna estimated roughly 100,000 workers, or 70 percent of the state work force, would be subject to the furlough. Each day of furlough would save the state roughly $30 million, he added.
The Legislature will receive the furlough bill today along with a list of $620 million in spending cuts designed to close the widening deficit.
Health and safety workers would not be required to stay home. Management-confidential employees, who have gone without a scheduled general raise in the past two years, would also be exempt. While the governor was initially putting the proposal forward as a stand-alone bill, he would not rule out placing it in a future extender bill — a move that would put the Legislature in the position of approving a furlough or bringing about a state government shutdown.
Megna said the proposal was in keeping with actions the governor has taken over the past several weeks to stem New York’s cash-flow crisis — including school payment delays and state-funded capital projects, as well as the delay of a 4 percent raise that went into effect for many state workers on April 1.
“We believe … this would fall into the same mechanism in that we have the ability to do it given the fiscal crisis that we’re facing, and the fact that we do not have a state budget,” Megna said.
In a news conference from the Red Room of the Capitol, Paterson asked the Legislature to take up his amended executive budget proposal and give it an up-or-down vote today — a long shot considering the major differences in the budget blueprints offered by Paterson, the Senate and the Assembly.
Megna said that while the governor was proposing the furlough as a stand-alone bill, he would not rule out placing it in a future extender bill — a move that would force the Legislature to approve a furlough or bring about a state government shutdown.
Paterson’s budget submitted in January included $250 million in unspecified savings from state work force costs. So far, union leaders have rejected concessions.
Since the fiscal downturn began, many cash-strapped states — from California and Massachusetts to Iowa and Oklahoma — have used to furloughs to cut costs.
Paterson’s list of new deficit-closing cuts includes about $324 million in additional spending reductions, approximately $100 million Paterson said were proposed by the Legislature. The list also included $211 million in revenue actions and $85 million in other actions.
The new cuts include both large- and small-bore ideas, from a $50 million cut to the money set aside for member items, otherwise known as pork, in the current fiscal year to a delay in the current plan to refurbish the roof of the Capitol for a savings of $10 million.
The largest new revenue action would be a two-year reduction of business-related tax credits, which would save $100 million this year and $650 million in 2011-2012.
Paterson also asked the Legislature to work five-day weeks beginning Monday until a budget deal is achieved.
Since the budget deadline passed at the end of March, the Senate and Assembly have held to the pre-existing calendar and held only 11 session days. After today, they’ll be gone until Monday. There are only 11 session days set for May.
Asked why he isn’t forcing lawmakers to stay here in extraordinary session, as he can do by law, Paterson said, “I’m trying not to be acrimonious.”
Legislative leaders were noncommittal on both the furlough proposal and the call for an up-or-down vote on the governor’s budget plan.
“The governor has the right to manage the size of the state work force,” said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, apparently referring to the governor’s power to impose layoffs. Pressed on the specific question of the furlough proposal, Silver said he needed a more detailed explanation of the plan.
“We have to review the proposal before commenting further,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate Majority Conference.
Casey Seiler can be reached at 454-5619 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Provisions of Gov. Paterson’s furlough proposal, which must be approved by the Legislature:
Agency commissioners will be given the discretion to schedule their employees’ one furlough day per week.
Employees would not be allowed to charge their accruals to offset this salary reduction, and agencies would not be able to use overtime to make up for loss of productivity.
The budget birector would designate positions providing direct care or certain security services as “essential,” and the employees serving in those positions would not be furloughed. Examples include correction officers, nurses and state troopers.
Management/Confidential employees will also not be subject to the furlough, since — unlike union employees — their scheduled general salary increase has been eliminated in each of the last two years.
Source: Executive Chamber