Thousands of state employees’ jobs on chopping block as lawmakers and union reps battle

Dwindling revenues. Whispers of bankruptcy. Employee pink slips. The private sector isn’t the only industry continuing to see to adverse effects of the recession.

As state governments continue to grapple with massive budget deficits, many public employees have in recent years faced furloughs, layoffs and frozen or reduced pay. And just as in many private sector businesses, the layoff notices keep coming.

As reported on Friday by the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently threatened to layoff nearly 2,000 state workers, amid other cuts, if state lawmakers didn’t approve additional funding for the state budget.

“Members of the General Assembly cannot run away from what they did in the spring,” Quinn said at a news conference in Chicago. “Some of them patted themselves on the back for it.

“It’s time for a rendezvous with reality.” (Chicago Tribune, 9/9/11)

Quinn, according to the article, will likely face an uphill battle in getting state lawmakers to go along with his plans.

And in the meantime, thousands of state workers will remain on edge about the status of their employment.

In Connecticut, meanwhile, the most recent budget battle is between Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state’s police union which saw 56 of its rookie state troopers laid off after the union refused to accept a two-year wage freeze accepted by all other state employees.

The police union is now seeking to reverse those layoffs, countering that they bring staffing levels below those mandated by law, according to the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch blog.

Courant columnist Jon Lender wrote an interesting column detailing “unusual perks” that the state troopers receive — ranging from significant overtime to a so-called “stress fund” that other state employees, who did accept the wage freeze, do not.

As these public battles continue to unfold,  they are only two of similar squabbles going on across the country as lawmakers clash with other and employee unions over the best ways to close the ongoing massive budget gaps.

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