State Workers Anxiously Await Snyder's Budget

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

As state employees see it, they've been making concessions to help balance Michigan's budget for years.

"State employees as an aggregate have sacrificed over a half a billion dollars over the past five years," Phillip Thompson, executive vice president of SEIU local 517, said.

"Furloughs, pay freezes, bank leave, paying more into health care," Ray Holman of UAW local 6000 said of the sacrifices. "We've stepped up year and year."

Last year, 4,700 state employees took an early retirement incentive, those remaining were forced to contribute three percent of their wages into a health care trust.

This year, no one knows for sure what Gov. Snyder will propose, but many believe there will certainly be concessions.

"We expect he will make a pitch to substantially reduce state workers pay and benefits," Democrat Representative Mark Meadows said.

A bill by Senator Mark Jansen is in committee now that requires a 25 percent contribution by public employees for their health care. That could be a starting off point for the Snyder Administration as contract negotiations begin with some state employee unions this year.

Thompson said they don't mind sacrificing, as long as it is a shared sacrifice.

"This can be productive if dealt with in a professional manner," he said. "If representatives come to the table and it's strictly hammer time, they're going to get a reaction that isn't favorable."

Considering the Lt.. Governor likened Thursday's budget proposal to an atomic bomb, state workers are anxiously awaiting the announcement.

"Right now state employees are scared, we know we've lost 11,000 positions since 2001, DHS for example, those employees are doing the work of 3 or 4 people," Holman said. "To know more cuts are coming is pretty unsettling."

Some union members from the Michigan State Employees Association plan to march on the capitol at 10:30 Thursday morning, about 30 minutes before the governor makes his presentation

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