Furloughs for state workers not approved

Published 6:59 pm Thursday, April 2, 2009

Alabama state employees will not have to worry about being faced with furloughs this year after the bi-partisan Legislative Council unanimously voted down the idea Thursday.

The idea, presented by State Personnel Director Jackie Graham, was an effort to cut personnel costs without layoffs.

But, according to State Employees Association director Mac McArthur, the threat of layoffs is not a reality for this budget year or next year.

“In talking with the budget chairs of the House and Senate and the finance director, it is our belief that we will not be faced with any layoffs this year or in the 2010 budget year,” McArthur said in an interview with The Advertiser. “We believe the funds from the stimulus package will help us get through these budgets.”

McArthur said the association was opposed to the furlough ideas, which would have asked state employees to take off from work for up to 24 days a year, because they were simply a “bad idea at a bad time.”

“What people forget is that the governor has already imposed a hiring freeze,” McArthur said. “And, in state government, you turn over about 10 percent of your employees each year.”

Gov. Riley announced the hiring freeze earlier in the year at the same time he announced proration and spending cuts for state agencies.

In an Associated Press report Thursday, Graham said layoffs are the only option now.

“I think that is a comment from someone who simply lost, and she needs to take her ball and go home,” McArthur said of Graham’s plan’s defeat.

In Thursday’s report, committee members, which consisted of both Republican and Democratic legislators, raised concern that the furlough plan would be used to “discriminate against some employees.”