Disagreement over how many state workers will lose jobs
The Blagojevich administration’s large number of layoff notices have set off a new debate over how many state workers could end up out of a job.
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union announced Thursday it had been notified of more than 450 layoffs. That’s the same number of positions the governor’s office acknowledged is being affected in four agencies.
But the administration says the 450 total is misleading.
Most of the layoffs are at the Department of Children and Family Services. The agency said its layoffs are affecting 306 positions, and the union says 289 of those are its members.
But DCFS will lose only 179 employees because some of those laid off are expected to transfer to “higher-need positions and higher-need offices,” DCFS spokesman Kendall Marlowe said Friday.
So, the administration argues, the layoff total should be reported as 325, not 450.
AFSCME stands by the 450 tally because that is the number of employees who are getting layoff notices.
“The administration is trying to mislead people and minimize the impact of the governor’s cuts, but the fact remains that more than 450 employees are targeted for layoff because of Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s action,” said AFSCME spokesman Anders Lindall.
Lindall said AFSCME has received no information about fewer positions being affected or having some DCFS employees transfer to other jobs. He noted losing the union positions would translate to a 12 percent cut in the agency’s frontline staff.
Marlowe said DCFS has notified the union that the net reduction in jobs will be 179, but he wouldn’t comment on what other details have been provided. He said the agency is not closing or relocating offices or making any reduction to foster or group homes or residential centers for children.
He said some employees may be able to continue working “within the same area or even office,” while others may take jobs in other locations.
“This obviously is a sensitive process for all concerned,” Marlowe said.
Lindall said that could put affected workers in the same spot as those in the Department of Transportation’s traffic safety division, which Blagojevich wants to move to southern Illinois.
“You can uproot your family or you can lose your job,” Lindall said.
Ryan Keith can be reached at (217) 788-1518 firstname.lastname@example.org.