October 28, 2010

HOTLINE: Agreement reached mitigating impacts of new DSHS furoughs

WFSE/AFSCME and management of DSHS reached agreement on a “memorandum of understanding” that mitigates the impact of the new furloughs tied to the governor's 6.3 percent budget cuts.

The agreement saves the jobs of 160 DSHS workers, has fewer furlough days for previously exempt employees than management originally proposed and showed the public our members have innovative ideas to generate savings to offset furlough days. 

NOTE: This posting was delayed to respect the agreement to put out a joint statement first, which went out at 12:30 p.m. today.

Highlights of the agreement signed off at 2:40 this morning:
          • Only eight furlough days for those previously exempt under the furlough law passed by the Legislature. This is a big deal – management originally proposed nine. 
          • Commitment to use savings to offset furloughs if possible. 
          • Commitment to pend all performance evaluations until next June, unless absolutely necessary. 
          • Important workload modifications. 
          • Workers making less than $2,500 a month will be exempt.
          • And both sides committed to put out a joint statement to employees. 
          The negotiations were extraordinary – with DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus sitting on the management side, along with many of her top leadership team, including Denise Revels Robinson, head of DSHS Children’s Administration, Chief Financial Officer Gary Robinson, other division heads and superintendents of 24/7 facilities. 

          Your team worked long and hard for the fourth day this month. Negotiations started at 9 a.m. Wednesday and as we said didn’t wrap up until 2:40 this morning.

          It shows the value of having a union with the know-how to dig in and fight for out-of-the-box ideas to save jobs and money. One example of that was the agreement where those working holidays would be paid at straight time plus half, so that each holiday worked “during the time of temporary layoffs will count as an offset for a temporary layoff day for that employee.” The creative thinking aimed at preserving public services.

          “By negotiating new workload standards, by protecting the lowest-paid DSHS workers and by saving 160 permanent DSHS workers, the union has mitigated the debilitating aspects of DSHS’s current across-the-board compensation reductions,” said Carol Dotlich, president of the Washington Federation of State Employees.

          “We hate that additional furloughs are contemplated, but our members are trying to preserve as many services for our citizens as they can." 

          Download a copy of the full agreement here. 

          Here are more details:
            • Employees subject to the previous ESHB 6503 law that mandated 10 furlough days will take an additional temporary layoff day in November 2010 and May 2011.
            • All other employees will take eight furlough days between November 2010 and June 2011. 
            • Children’s Administration employees may choose to take a furlough day on Nov. 24 or Nov. 29, but if work demands prevent that, they can request an alternate day in November.
            • There are important options for those with alternate work schedules. Refer to the agreement for full details.
            • With the added furloughs – and decreased work time – the agreement recognizes that expectations have to be adjusted: “The agency will not expect employees to accomplish the same amount of work during the month of temporary layoff that the employees accomplished during a month where no temporary layoff occurred.”
            • Employees who work a holiday from November 2010 to June 2011 will be compensated at straight time plus half, for all hours worked on the holiday, instead of their regular rate of pay plus time and a half for all hours worked on a holiday. That will count as an offset for a temporary layoff day for employees working a holiday.
            • Employees with a full-time equivalent salary of $2,500 or less a month will be exempt from these furloughs unless their office or work location is closed. If their office is closed, employees who are eligible to use leave will be allowed to use leave.
            •  If a work location is closed on a furlough day, employees can turn their voice mail greeting to the “extended absence” message. Current 24-hour non-emergency message response requirements will be extended to 48 hours during the entire period of the furloughs from November 2010 to June 2011. The 48-hour non-emergency service response will also apply to internet, e-mail and fax requests.
            • Both sides agreed it is a priority to use salary savings in addition to those budgeted, booked and not needed for emergent and necessary expenditures, as determined by the secretary’s office, to reduce the impact of furlough days. Management will meet with the union monthly to discuss the number of furlough days that can be reduced consistent with this provision.

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