LCJFS makes concessions to save jobs

Published 11:06 am Friday, April 3, 2009

IRONTON — Close to $300,000 in concessions between the union and Lawrence County Job and Family Services have been agreed upon with the goal of staving off further layoffs in that agency.

Two weeks ago, six caseworker positions from the children’s services section of the welfare agency were eliminated because of a continual decrease in funding.

The concessions almost equal the amount a 1 mil levy that was defeated more than a year ago would have brought to the agency. That levy was touted as a lifeline for the agency by its director Gene Myers. As a local match it could have brought in possibly four times that to the LCJFS.

Email newsletter signup

At Thursday’s Lawrence County Commission meeting, following an executive session about collective bargaining, Myers made the results of the union-management talks public.

All employees will forfeit pay for seven holidays, for a savings of $90,000. There will be a forfeiture of a contractual 3 percent raise, for a savings of $127,000; and a suspension of a sick leave incentive program that should bring in $80,000 a year.

For the past two months, representatives from AFSCME Local 3319 and LCJFS management have had talks with the resulting package passed by the union in a 53-13 vote. The union also agreed that when the economics improve, the next step should be to reinstate the lost positions before revoking the concessions. Out of 89 employees 74 are union, working under a two-year contract that began August 2008.

“If things improve, we will bring those back, but not for a little while,” Myers said after the meeting.

All but one of the case workers had been employed from 2005 forward; the sixth came in 2000. The average salary was $32,000. The effective date for the layoffs is Monday.

Four of the six have displacement rights, which means they can “bump” or take the position of another employee of the agency. All four have exercised that right.

“It is difficult, but we just laid off six workers,” Terri Robinson, union president, said.

If the concessions can halt more layoffs, “this is what you have to do,” she said.

Commission president Jason Stephens commended the workers.

“This is evidence of the union’s commitment to Lawrence County,” Stephens said. “That is a big concession for the union to make, a major concession.”

The concessions will be in effect for management as well as the union workers.