SEIU Local 1000 says its cost-cutting proposal would save state $150 million

The 95,000-member SEIU Local 1000, the largest of the state employees’ 21 bargaining units, this week presented the Schwarzenegger administration with a package of contract proposals that the union said would save the cash-strapped state $150 million, or more. The proposals include expediting early retirement and freezing health-care contributions at last year’s levels.

There was no immediate response from the administration.

Union negotiators said that their package is a more rational alternative “to the governor’s drastic measures” that include forced furloughs and billions of new cuts to programs that protect and serve Californians. Schwarzenegger earlier proposed forced furloughs of two days per month for state employees, the equivalent of about a 9.5 percent pay cut.

The Republican governor, facing a $40 billion budget shortage through mid-2009, proposed a mix of cuts, layoffs and furloughs in the 240,000-member state workforce to save money.

State workers’ groups have been critical of the governor’s proposals and offered an alternative proposal on Tuesday.

“Our plan protects vital state services provided by dedicated state employees by avoiding across the board cuts that hurt our families and continues our ability to provide the services Californians need and deserve,” said Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker.

According to SEIU, the proposals include:

• A voluntary reduced work week program of 5 percent, 10 percent or 20 percent.

• A golden handshake for state workers willing to take early retirement.

• Converting two state holidays – Lincoln’s Birthday and Columbus Day – for two additional personal leave days.

• Freezing employee health care contributions at 2008 levels.

SEIU Local 1000 has been negotiating with the state since May on a new labor contract. Thus far, there has been no agreement on a contract.

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