Metro

Governor and unions may have an agreement

By
Metro Editor
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Governor Donald Carcieri ’65 has reportedly reached a provisional agreement with state employee unions to allow pay cuts in place of layoffs or government shutdown days. Carcieri has been engaged in an ongoing struggle with the unions in an effort to meet budget cut requirements.

The proposed agreement requires state workers to take eight unpaid work days in this fiscal year and four in the next, the Providence Journal reported on Saturday. The reported agreement would also delay the 3 percent pay raise workers were going to receive next July for six months. Under the plan, no shutdown days or layoffs can occur until 2011 and workers could recoup some of the lost wages when they leave state service.

Representatives for the governor and unions declined to comment on the specifics of any agreement for this article, saying that discussions are still in progress.

“They are still negotiating on language that both parties can agree to,” Amy Kempe, a spokesperson for the governor, told The Herald. “In principle, I think we have an agreement but anything can happen until the last vote has happened.”

Michael Downey, president of Council 94, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, wrote in a statement yesterday that the union received a proposal Friday and is requesting another meeting with state officials before the union moves to approve it.

If a proposal is officially accepted by union leaders, it must be voted on by members before it is finally approved.

Last week, Carcieri threatened to lay off 1,000 state workers after a state Supreme Court judge granted a request by the unions to block the first of his planned government shutdown days.

In a memo sent yesterday, Department of Administration Director Gary Sasse instructed department heads to produce layoff lists by this Wednesday “due to the serious fiscal challenges facing the state and the time necessary to prepare and implement layoffs.”

“While negotiations with the state’s employee unions have been productive, we have not yet reached a final agreement,” Sasse wrote.