Unionized state workers have rejected a contract proposal that called for 19 days of furloughs over two years, setting the stage for hundreds of layoffs, a State Employees Association official announced last night.Shira Schoenberg reports in the Concord Monitor that SEA President Gary Smith thinks there's room in the budget to save $25 million, or at least some of it, without layoffs or furloughs.
Fifty-nine percent of voting SEA members rejected the deal, which also would have restored some bumping rights for state workers who might be laid off. The contract covers about 11,500 state workers.
SEA President Gary Smith said he hoped the governor would look to vacant positions, the state's rainy day fund and nonclassified (often higher-ranking) part-time state employees before resorting to layoffs. With growing need for food stamps, Medicaid and unemployment benefits, Smith said, "This is just the worst time for the governor to be diminishing public services from people in New Hampshire who need them the most."Kevin Landrigan gets the Governor's reaction in the Nashua Telegraph.
“I am deeply disappointed the state employees union has rejected a contract that would have implemented furloughs and preserved jobs,” Lynch said in a statement after the vote. “Unfortunately, this vote means the state must now proceed with layoffs.”Foster's run Holly Ramer's piece for the AP, which looks at the impact mandatory unpaid furloughs would have had if the contract had been approved.
Affected employees will be informed in their paychecks Thursday and most will have been let go by the end of this month, the governor said.
“I will continue to work with agency heads to help ensure these layoffs have as little impact on state services as possible,” Lynch said.
Under terms of the rejected contract, workers would have had to give up 19 days of pay over the next two years.The Portsmouth Herald runs an AP article saying that the Governor is meeting with Department Heads this morning to go over layoffs.
"If I have to take 19 furlough days, that will likely mean 19 times, my rent won't get paid, or it won't get paid on time, or I might face a disconnect notice from my electric company," said Diana Richard, a secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services and a member of the union bargaining team. "If I am laid off, that means public assistance for me and my son. That's my reality, and so many others as well."
A day after members of New Hampshire's largest state employee union rejected a contract that included 19 furlough days, Gov. John Lynch was meeting with department heads to start plans for hundreds of layoffs.