State Workers

Furloughs set for Tuesday

Nearly 50 state agencies, boards or commissions will be shuttered Tuesday, marking the third state furlough aimed at saving payroll costs.

The furloughs are part of a 10-day plan approved by the Democrat-controlled Legislature. It is supposed to save $73 million over the next year and exempts public-safety personnel, those who bring revenue to the state and those responsible for protecting the vulnerable.

The shut-downs eliminate tours at the state Capitol, although the Legislative Building remains open to the public and some agencies will be operating.

Universities and colleges, agencies headed by independently elected officials and others also are staying open but have used vacancies, layoffs or other alternatives to reduce payroll.

In July, 23,039 general-government workers took a day off without pay, including staff members in Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office, according to the state Office of Financial Management. The temporary layoffs affected 35 percent of the general-government work force and saved $5,039,877 from 72 agencies, boards or commissions, according to the latest calculations by OFM.

OFM has said that 352 employees who took the day off in July covered their lost pay using leave or vacation – an option available only to workers earning less than $30,000 per year.

Negotiations between labor groups and the state last month led to agreements that workers must only be notified once of the year’s worth of layoffs.

And employees who are on alternative schedules – such as four, 10-hour days a week – must give up only eight hours’ pay for each furlough day, according to Greg Devereux, executive director of the Washington Federation of State Employees, and state Budget Director Marty Brown.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688