At DAS Local 125 leader’s request, DAS Director Michael Jordon gave a General Fund (most of DAS budget is under this) update: the State’s budget trend continues down by $100 million to a $300 million deficit from the November 2011 forecast. Necessary cuts will come by the end of April and will come mainly from the current hiring freeze and in some case consolidation of duties. While some positions may have to be eliminated, impact will be minimized. Michael also said it would not be wise to cut out positions that actually save the state money in the long run.
Employee Services Manager Mark Rasmussen clarified that wage or position benefits covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) – such as pesticide spray or night shift differential or lead work pay – would not, of course, be affected by budget cuts.
Cost reductions could still come from trimming management positions as intended by the 2011 Legislatures “span of control” bill, though the extent is still not known due to evaluation still needed as to which positions can reasonably be cut. New Human Resource Administrator Donna Bennett will review possibilities and effects of the span of control bill. Michael will be giving a progress report on it to the February Legislature.
Deputy Director Sarah Jo Chaplen said employee efficiency and cost saving suggestions that came from the October DAS All-Staff Meeting – or that keep coming – have been tabulated and analyzed by a committee and she applauded the suggestions and employee interest. The most common one was to weed out duplication of services. She said that some suggestions might be good even though implementation was not possible, e.g., some that came from the State Data Center. DAS employees can continue to submit cost-cutting/efficiency suggestions via the DAS website (DASH).
DAS Local leaders pushed the agenda quickly to make time during Michael’s presence at the meeting to emphasize the need to keep moving ahead a labor-management anti-bullying initiative in the work place. The initiative would cover bullying in all forms and appearances, whether from supervisors or between coworkers. Changes to a joint labor-management draft letter on bullying by Chief Steward Steve Walsh, who along with DAS Vice-president Jeni De Jesus serves on the anti-bullying work group, were agreed to by management. The changes will underscore the union’s role in the initiative.
Treasurer Conda Walsh asked what the accompanying proposed anti-bullying training would look like, to ensure it would be effective. DAS Local leaders emphasized the need for the union’s input in molding the training and perhaps the need for a more focus effort on work sites that had a history of bullying issues or were potential trouble spots. Local leaders also asked references to anti-bullying be added to the DAS “Maintaining a Professional Workplace” policy and received supporting comments from Michael Jordon, who also indicated the policy changes could be done relatively quickly.
The next DAS Labor-Management Meeting is schedule for late February.