Mandatory Work Furloughs for Fresno County Employees

March 24, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Starting July 1st , 4,700 employees will take a pay cut to help reduce Fresno county's projected deficit. 58% of the county's workforce will have to take one work week off without pay.While many employees we spoke to dreaded this but are thankful they still have a place to work.

For several weeks Fresno county public works analyst Carolyn Nixon has feared losing her job.

Now she knows the county board of supervisors will only require her to take a 40-hour unpaid break next fiscal year.

"It's better this than to lose a job," said Nixon.

Starting July 1st Nixon and 4,700 other employees will take part in the mandatory work furlough program. The county is trying to reduce its projected $30 million budget deficit. THESE FURLOUGHS WOULD REDUCE THAT AMOUNT BY 5.3 MILLION DOLLARS. Over 3,000 county employees are under union contracts that protects them from the furloughs. County administrative officer John Navarrette said the ultimate goal is to get union workers on board as well.

"If we're able to get all the remaining classifications we could probably reach probably 8-9 million in savings," said Navarrette.

21 public works employees have already been laid off.

Supervisor Judith Case said furloughs will prevent more pink slips. "I think this preserves as many services as possible while trying to minimize the number of people who will actually lose their jobs," she said.

Case said she's willing to give up two week's pay, and submitted her work schedule. "I would like to volunteer 80 hours of service to be unpaid," she reported to the clerk.

Kevin Smith with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) was impressed with the supervisor's actions.

"If the board and management is willing to lead by example we are more than willing to come to the table," said Smith.

Future meetings are planned between the union and the board to find ways to cut back pay and reduce overtime.

Supervisors also said they welcome employees who are willing to volunteer more time off than already required.

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