LCJFS union OKs more concessions

Published 10:34 pm Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fewer employees at Lawrence County Job and Family Services will get the pink slip, but remaining workers have agreed to concessions to make it happen.

Under a plan approved by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3319 earlier this week, workers will take 26 furlough days a year — one day each pay period — give up a wage increase and give up a sick day incentive in order to keep 12 of the more than 20 positions that had been targeted for lay-off within a week.

That means only 13 union positions and two management positions will be cut. The workers will get to keep seven paid holidays that they originally agreed to give up to save the agency money.

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Terri Robinson, president of AFSCME Local 3319, said the vote on the new plan was 37 in favor of and 16 against with six abstentions.

“Although management is making some concessions, the union took the brunt of the layoffs,” Robinson said. “Management may have lost two to retirement and they laid off one secretary but we’ve lost 18 union people (this year).”

Several employees were laid off earlier this year in an effort to meet anticipated state budget cuts. Local officials learned only last week that state cuts to JFS funding were greater than what was initially anticipated, leading to the latest discussion on layoffs.

Lawrence County Job And Family Services Director Gene Myers said the two management level employees that are affected by the job shifting have opted to take the early retirement incentives package that the county offered all its employees last year. He said he did not have figures available on how much money will be saved with the early retirement of the two employees.

Caseworker Lisa Massie is one of the 12 people who would have lost her job without the concessions. She said she is thankful her coworkers were willing to give up benefits to help keep her payday coming.

“Those votes last night (Thursday) saved my job,” she said.

The 13 employees at the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA) is represented by a different AFSCME local. Those employees have yet to vote on concessions to stave off pink slips in their agency.

Myers said the JFS office will close one Friday each two-week period as part of the furlough agreement.

Myers told the Lawrence County Commission last week that the $1.6 million decrease in funding to his office would force him to lay off roughly a third of his staff.