State worker layoffs averted

ESP from libraryFrom the Paterson Administration press release, hot off the web (emphasis added):

This agreement when fully adopted will save taxpayers approximately $440 million over the next two years, which is approximately the amount that was projected to be saved through the proposed workforce reduction plan announced in March. In addition, the unions will support the imposition of a new Tier V in the Retirement System, a proposal the Governor has championed since last year.

The agreement will also reduce the state workforce by approximately 7,000 positions through a targeted separation incentive, aggressive attrition and the elimination of positions that are funded but are currently vacant. In addition, a voluntary reduction in work schedule will be implemented to achieve cost reductions.

According to the release, the "targeted separation incentive" is a "one-time $20,000 retirement incentive payment [that] will be offered to approximately 4,500 employees." The incentives will only be given to people who are in jobs scheduled to be eliminated. About 2,500 jobs that are currently unfilled are also scheduled to be permanently eliminated.

There's also this part, of which we're not really sure the meaning:

Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule (Net Two-year Savings: $156 million). Each union will be provided with a proportional savings target in line with the size of their respective portion of the workforce, which they will work in concert with their membership to achieve through a voluntary reduction in work schedule.

Anyone know what that part means? In a comment, Brian says this part of the deal means the unions will be asking members to take voluntary unpaid leave. Chrisck says it's more along the lines of part-time scheduling.

Update: Statement from CSEA and PEF (short story: they're claiming victory)

Update II: Here are guidelines from 2000 for the "Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule." Quick quote:

Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule (VRWS) is a program that allows employees to voluntarily trade income for time off. The VRWS program continues to be available to eligible annual-salaried employees in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services Unit (PS&T) and to eligible annual-salaried employees designated Management/Confidential (M/C).

(Thanks, Emma!)


"Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule" means that the unions have agreed to ask their members to take unpaid leave to create the $156 million in savings.

Only in government-speak could eliminating a job which no one is being paid for be viewed as saving money.

Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule is NOT forced unpaid leave (or furlough). It is a program of reduced hours/pay (not reduced benefits) for people who want it and this program is already in place. Actually many workers have wanted 80% schedules for personal reasons and have been denied it by their agencies or program areas. Nobody is forced to go on VRWS. I see this agreement as meaning the agencies will be more accommodating to workers who want reduced schedules.

Not everyone at The State Department of Health favors the Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule program, nor do they accommodate employees who want reduced schedules as it is written in the June 3 memo from Dennis Whalen promoting the program and encouraging programs to allow employees this option.
I applied asking for an extended leave this coming winter for health reasons and was denied being told at first they did not believe in allowing anyone a extended vacation, although a secretary in this very office was allowed a month off for a vacation. When I asked for their denial in writing, the written memo stated that our office and I were too essential to the operations of the department to allow me the extended leave I was requesting. Although, I was told if I wanted to reduce my hours and work a part time position, that would be approved.
So, regardless of the Governor's Press Releases, memos and/or statements from Dennis Whalen or the unions, when it comes to VRWS, DOH managers are allowed to make up the rules as they go, only accommodates themselves.

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