September 30, 2010

Message from President Dotlich about DSHS cuts; 9742 hours of furlough overtime paid in July -read more


Greg Devereux and I met with Susan Dreyfus, Secretary of DSHS, and her staff at 8 am this morning. We were given a very brief overview of the announcements about the budget cuts she was about to make to all who work in Department of Social and Health Services. I will not repeat here in detail what I know you have probably already heard.

Those of you who have already been subject to furlough will face an additional two days of furlough that are not part of the bill the legislature implemented. Those of you who were exempted from that bill will now face nine total furlough days. DSHS plans to implement these beginning in October.

This new furlough scheme does not fall under the same protections as the legislatively implemented furlough bill and the previous negotiations related to it. November and May are months at issue for those already affected by the existing furloughs. All nine days are at issue for those not already affected by furloughs.

A Demand-To-Bargain is immediately being sent by our union to management. We have asked that the bargaining begin as early as next week.

We were told the cuts to DSHS equate to a 6.287% across the board cut or in other words 280 million dollars. DSHS, we were told, is unlike any other state agency. Most agencies get one general state fund appropriation DSHS receives multiple specific appropriations and provisos and, we were told each of these had to be cut by the same amount.

Susan Dreyfus said that the additional furlough days will save 160 state employee jobs. That said, we were told state employees within DSHS will face 380 layoffs total for the 6.287% across the board cut.

We were told one ward at Western State Hospital will close, one cottage at an RHC will close based on census numbers, Maple Lane School will downsize and these events will take place prior to June 30 of next year. Long term care services, TANF, and food assistance for non citizens and naturalization services will be hit hard. Mental Health RSNs will also be hard hit. The impacts of these changes will reverberate throughout the human services network.

This is difficult news to hear and our members will hear a lot of speculation about it. I am committed to making sure you know what I know as much as possible. Please contact me or your local Council Representative if you have news to share about these cuts and furloughs.

By the end of this week we can expect to hear about a further 10% cut being considered in DSHS. This 10% cut is being considered for the 2011-2013 biennium. Some of the 6.287% cut already being discussed will go forward as part of the 10% so we don't know at this point what any of that means.

The most important action you can take right now is to assure your brothers and sisters that we are all in this together as a union. We will stand together and we will bargain the impacts of these cuts as early as possible and protect them in every way we can under the current contract. Please commit to helping each other as much as possible. Local union meetings are a great place to give and get information that will help arm us for what we all face together. 

Your brothers and sisters need you. I'm counting on you to Stand Union Strong!

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