State Employee Contract Approval Put On Hold

A protest outside the Capitol Commons Center, Wednesday morning, was supposed to lead to an energetic Civil Service Commission meeting inside, but it never got that far.

The commission was scheduled to vote on recommendations for a new contract for unionized state workers. Made by the State Employee Relations Board, they include a raise for state employees, but with higher health care payments that raise deductibles and co-pays.

The unions, led by UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, told the four-member commission, it's a decision the state doesn't need to make.

"If there needs to be concessions, then we need the facts and figures to prove that there needs to be concessions. I have a hard time thinking there would be concessions when there's a revenue of over $600 million," said Estrada.

A decision to table the approval followed a 2-2 tie on a motion to leave employee health care alone. Now, the commission is pushing the two sides to come up with an agreement before its next meeting on January 15.

Jan Winters, Director of the Office of the State Employer, argued in favor of the recommendations. She says despite higher state revenues, rising health care and retirement costs continue to be a concern.

"We need to do something now. We have the opportunity to get our hands around a situation where we can continue to address increases in total compensation costs," she said.

Both the state and the unions say they're willing to meet over the next month.


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