July 8, 2010

Furlough negotiations to continue; push on to correct list of affected employees improperly left off exempt list

This is a special update of the Federation Hotline at about midnight, 7/8/10

The governor’s office and state negotiators got an earful on furloughs Wednesday.

Nearly 2,000 “No FurloUGHs” petitions were delivered one-by-one and spread across the governor’s office’s newly refinished conference room table. The special furlough bargaining team, joined by the Community College Coalition Bargaining Team, gave the individually signed petitions to the governor’s chief of staff, Jay Manning, during the Wednesday lunch break. They then pelted Manning with questions about the furlough farce that will actually cost $94 million in lost federal matching funds, run up huge overtime costs (just as in Oregon) and make a political statement rather than saving any money.

Meanwhile, the special furlough bargaining team wrapped up its scheduled two days of bargaining on the impacts of the furloughs set to start Monday, July 12. The union demanded the negotiations to effectively mitigate the impact of furloughs on thousands of members—if furloughs could not be blocked quickly.

Wednesday’s talks stretched to 15 hours. There was some movement on such issues as how to deal with those on alternative work schedules who stand to lose more than eight hours of pay on a furlough day.

But both sides could not reach agreement so negotiations will continue on a comprehensive agreement. That will come July 15, after the first furlough day. Management made it clear it was too late for any agreement to take effect July 12. That harsh reality arose July 2 after a Thurston County Superior Court judge rejected the union’s motion for an injunction, and instead sent the Federation legal challenge to a full trial. No date has been set yet.

So the focus now is on affecting the next scheduled furlough day, Aug. 6, and the others that come after that.

The union did not concede that furloughs are OK, even as the July 12 furloughs will go forward. The union’s bargaining, lawsuit, grievance and unfair labor practice complaint may take time to bring justice. But as the judge suggested last week, the state might be forced to reimburse affected employees for any lost wages caused by furloughs if down the line the union prevails in its many efforts.

But tensions ran high Wednesday as an early management proposal struck the union team as an insult to affected members.

So, the negotiations on an overarching memorandum of understanding to mitigate furloughs continue July 15.

The more immediate talks to correct the list that improperly targets for temporary layoffs some employees exempted from furloughs in Health, Corrections and Social and Health Services continue today with special subcommittees still being formed late Wednesday night. The outcome of those negotiations would take effect on the July 12 furlough day.

Job actions and all the other legal and administrative actions continue as well.

Bargaining shifts gears Thursday and Friday as the General Government Bargaining Team returns to the table.

That’s it for now.

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