state employees http://michiganradio.org en Michigan economists warn against ending pensions for public employees http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-economists-warn-against-ending-pensions-public-employees <p>Some economists say Michigan failed to consider the consequences of ending pension plans for public workers.</p><p></p><p>The state stopped offering pensions to new employees in 1997. Budget officials say that decision has cut Michigan’s long-term debt by about $5 billion.</p><p></p><p>A new report from Great Lakes Economic Consulting says the new 401(k) style plans may be cheaper. But it says it’s not fair to compare them to traditional pensions, which provide better protections for both workers and employers.</p><p></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 21:52:50 +0000 Jake Neher 18136 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan economists warn against ending pensions for public employees State employees call court ruling a 'victory' http://michiganradio.org/post/state-employees-call-court-ruling-victory <p>Thousands of state employees are applauding a judge’s ruling that they shouldn't be forced to pay for their pension benefits.</p><p>An Ingham County Circuit Court judge said today that a rule requiring state employees cough up four-percent of their salaries to keep their pensions is unconstitutional.</p><p>She said it’s effectively a pay cut, something only the Michigan Civil Service Commission has the authority to enact.</p><p>Ray Holman is with UAW Local 6000, the largest state employee union in Michigan.</p> Fri, 28 Sep 2012 19:52:39 +0000 Jake Neher 9292 at http://michiganradio.org State employees call court ruling a 'victory' Michigan state workers getting 3 percent health fee returned http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-state-workers-getting-3-percent-health-fee-returned <p>LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Nearly 50,000 state workers are getting refunds on the 3 percent they&#39;ve been paying for a year toward retiree health care costs.</p><p>State budget director John Nixon estimates a worker making $50,000 a year will get back about $1,500.</p><p>Gov. Rick Snyder signed bills last month agreeing to refund the money after courts ruled the fee unconstitutional. The money was being returned Thursday.</p><p>Workers can choose to receive the refunds in their paychecks or as a deposit into their 401(k) or 457 retirement accounts.</p><p>A similar 3 percent contribution being paid by teachers toward their retiree health care costs is not being refunded.</p><p>State employee unions had contested the fee, saying only the Civil Service Commission could impose it. Unionized and nonunionized workers will receive the refund. Thu, 19 Jan 2012 17:27:56 +0000 The Associated Press 5860 at http://michiganradio.org State workers reach tentative contract deal http://michiganradio.org/post/state-workers-reach-tentative-contract-deal <p>Governor Rick Snyder&rsquo;s administration has reached a deal with unions representing 35,000 state employees on a two-year contract beginning next year. Last week, both sides declared their negotiations were deadlocked.</p><p>The agreement averts arbitration hearings that were to begin Monday. Details on compensation, benefits and work rules are not being made public pending union ratification votes. But the tentative agreement does include some employee concessions, while the Snyder administration has agreed to examine manager-to-staff ratios and the cost of outside service contracts for possible ways to save money.</p><p>The contract will take effect in October of 2012.</p><p>The state unilaterally resolved a deadlock to come up with $265&nbsp;million in savings in the current fiscal year by imposing four unpaid furlough days, and not filling 367 vacancies. About 2,000 corrections employees will also lose their jobs as the state closes a prison in Detroit. Wed, 26 Oct 2011 21:17:15 +0000 Rick Pluta 4708 at http://michiganradio.org No layoff notices for Michigan's state employees http://michiganradio.org/post/no-layoff-notices-michigans-state-employees <p><strong>Update 3:12 p.m.</strong></p><p>Governor Rick Snyder has decided not to send out 30-day layoff notices to thousands of state workers while contract bargaining continues.</p><p>Allowing today&rsquo;s deadline to pass means no workers can be laid off with the start of the state&rsquo;s new fiscal year on October 1.</p><p>The governor&rsquo;s spokeswoman says he wants to send a signal that he&rsquo;s confident a deal can be reached without resorting to layoffs and other temporary solutions to keep the state budget balanced.</p><p>Ray Holman is with <a href="http://www.uawlocal6000.org/">UAW Local 6000</a>, the largest state employee union. He says the decision not to send layoff notices was the right one.</p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;&quot;We agree with Governor Snyder that we need to make structural changes and what we need to do is look at the private contracts and then also invest in frontline staff, invest in the foot soldiers - the people actually doing the work.&quot;</p></blockquote><p>Holman says that means managers should be first in line to lose their jobs to budget cuts.</p><p>The Snyder administration is trying to convince state employees to pick up a bigger share of their health and retirement costs.</p><p>The administration is looking for a total of $265 million dollars in employee savings.</p><p><strong>2:58 p.m.</strong></p><p>Governor Rick Snyder&#39;s administration will not send layoff notices to state employees as contract talks continue.</p><p>Snyder&#39;s spokeswoman says he wants to send a signal to state employees that he believes a deal can be struck before the state&#39;s new fiscal year begins on October 1.</p><p>State contracts require 30-day notice before layoffs can occur. Thu, 01 Sep 2011 18:58:21 +0000 Rick Pluta 3997 at http://michiganradio.org Court rules Michigan legislature illegally quashed pay raise http://michiganradio.org/post/court-rules-michigan-legislature-illegally-quashed-pay-raise <p><span style="font-size:14.0pt">The Michigan Court of Appeals says the Legislature violated the state constitution by illegally taking money from state employee paychecks to cover retirement health care </span><span style="font-size:14.0pt">costs.</span></p><p style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><span style="font-size:14.0pt">State employees are in line to get back $60 million dollars that was withheld from their paychecks if this decision stands.</span></p><p style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The court of appeals says then-Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Legislature could not take three percent of state employee salaries for retirement costs after lawmakers failed to block three percent pay raises.</span></p><p style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The pay raises were approved by the independent state Civil Service Commission, and could only be reversed by super-majorities in the House and </span><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Senate.</span></p><p style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The appeals court said that was just another way to take away the pay raise, and violated the process set up by the state constitution.</span></p><p style="text-indent: 0.5in;"><span style="font-size: 14pt;">Governor Rick Snyder says the money is needed to help cover a shortfall in the state employee retirement fund. He could ask the state attorney general to appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court. </span></p><p><em>*Correction - an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the current Michigan legislature and Governor Snyder &quot;adopted the plan earlier this year that requires state employees contribute 3 percent of their paychecks toward their retirement health care costs.&quot;</em></p><p><em>The plan was adopted under a previous legislature and then-Governor Granholm.</em></p><p><em>The headline has been changed as well. (previous headline &quot;Court rules Michigan legislature and Gov. illegally quashed pay raise&quot;).</em></p><p><em>We regret the error.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp; Fri, 26 Aug 2011 16:33:01 +0000 Rick Pluta 3929 at http://michiganradio.org Fact finding hearing dates set for Central Michigan University dispute http://michiganradio.org/post/fact-finding-hearing-dates-set-central-michigan-university-dispute <p>The Central Michigan University Faculty Association organized a work stoppage on the first day of classes yesterday after they said the CMU administration was not bargaining with the union in good faith.</p><p>CMU officials filed in injunction and a judge ordered the faculty members back to work (state employees are not allowed to strike under state law).</p><p>The dispute is over cuts to salary and benefits.</p><p>Now, a fact finder has been assigned to help the parties resolve the dispute. From a <a href="http://media.cmich.edu/pr/cmu/fact-finder-appointed-to-hear.aspx">CMU press release</a>:</p><blockquote><div>The Michigan Employment Relations Commission has appointed Barry Goldman to oversee the fact finding process involving the CMU Faculty Association and Central Michigan University.</div><div>In addition, hearing dates of Sept. 7, 9 and 13 have been accepted by both parties.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Fact finding is a process in which an impartial party is assigned to hear both the university&rsquo;s and the FA&rsquo;s positions and then render a recommendation on a collective bargaining agreement.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Both the FA and CMU filed petitions for fact finding July 14.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div></blockquote><div>CMU spokesman Steve Smith says Goldman will listen to both sides on the hearing dates and will later issue a recommendation. Tue, 23 Aug 2011 19:09:22 +0000 Mark Brush 3879 at http://michiganradio.org Fact finding hearing dates set for Central Michigan University dispute State opens contract negotiations with employees http://michiganradio.org/post/state-opens-contract-negotiations-employees <p>Governor Rick Snyder&rsquo;s administration and state employee unions have begun a new round of contract negotiations.</p><p>The Snyder administration has set a big savings target -- $265 million - or an average of about $6,000 per state worker.</p><p>Jan Winter is the governor&rsquo;s lead negotiator. She says saving $265 million in employee costs will be tough.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Go the table, work as hard as you can. A lot of things can happen and we&rsquo;re counting on working out good deals here.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Winter says one idea is to ask state employees to pay more for their benefits.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;One of the things that we have looked at, clearly, moving to something like an 80/20 split on a health plan would mean well over $100 million in gross savings. We have a lot of ideas, and we&rsquo;re hopeful the unions have lots of ideas, too.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Cindy Estrada is the lead negotiator for UAW Local Six Thousand, the biggest state employee union.</p><p>She says workers are also looking to fix the state&rsquo;s budget troubles.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;We want to create a Michigan, a state that in 10 years to come is more efficient, has better quality for the citizens that receive those services, and I think we can do that &ndash; if workers and management get together and we look for new solutions and we be really creative and stick to the commitment that we&rsquo;re going to make structural changes, we can get there, definitely.</p></blockquote><p>But Estrada says the savings should not come out of state employees&rsquo; benefits or paychecks since they&rsquo;ve given up nearly $4 billion in concessions over the past decade.</p><p>The unions say state government could find big savings if it reduced the number of managers and outside contracts. Tue, 26 Jul 2011 22:09:33 +0000 Rick Pluta 3473 at http://michiganradio.org State to open contract talks with request for concessions http://michiganradio.org/post/state-open-contract-talks-request-concessions <p>Governor Rick Snyder&rsquo;s administration and state employee unions will open contract negotiations this week. The first topic of bargaining will be whether state workers will give up the salary and benefits they&rsquo;ve already been promised.</p><p>The new state budget is not balanced yet. For one thing, the budget assumes millions of dollars in savings in employee costs. State state worker unions have yet to agree to those cuts. In fact, the state can&rsquo;t even begin to negotiate unless the unions agree to re-open the current contracts. Kurt Weiss is with the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget.</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;We know it&rsquo;s a significant number. We know it&rsquo;s a painful number.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Weiss says the alternative to concessions is layoffs and privatizing services. The largest amount of money would come out of the state Department of Corrections.</p><p>State employee unions say state government is currently top heavy with managers and has too many contracts &ndash; and the Snyder administration should look those first before looking to squeeze more from frontline workers or lay them off.</p><p> Mon, 25 Jul 2011 10:49:27 +0000 Rick Pluta 3444 at http://michiganradio.org State to open contract talks with request for concessions Snyder: Michigan is not Wisconsin http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-michigan-not-wisconsin <p>Governor <a href="http://www.michigan.gov/snyder">Rick Snyder</a> is asking state workers to be patient as his administration tries to set Michigan&rsquo;s fiscal affairs in order.</p><p>The governor sent an e-mail to state workers last week saying he does not want a <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=134093832">Wisconsin-style confrontation</a>. The e-mail was sent to 50,000 state employees.</p><p>Governor Snyder promised to work within the collective bargaining process on concessions to help balance the budget, and he complimented state workers on their dedication and creativity.</p><p>He specifically said,&ldquo;Michigan is not Wisconsin,&rdquo; and &ldquo;tough decisions do not have to be polarizing.&rdquo;</p><p>The governor said his goal is to stabilize Michigan&rsquo;s finances so state workers don&rsquo;t have to negotiate new concessions in the future to help address a financial emergency. And, Snyder hinted that future changes to public employee compensation might be in store. He said some public employees are overpaid, some underpaid, and he has some ideas on correcting that. Mon, 28 Feb 2011 11:40:47 +0000 Rick Pluta 1441 at http://michiganradio.org Snyder: Michigan is not Wisconsin Study: State employees underpaid http://michiganradio.org/post/study-state-employees-underpaid <p><a href="http://pod.michiganradio.org/documents/EPICompStudyFINAL.pdf">A study</a> commissioned by a union-backed think tank says <a href="http://michiganradionews.org/post/snyder-report-state-workers-making-more-twice-their-private-sector-counterparts">reports</a> that state and local government employees in Michigan are overpaid compared to workers in the private sector are wrong.</p><p><a href="http://pod.michiganradio.org/documents/EPICompStudyFINAL.pdf">The study</a> is by the Washington D.C. based <a href="http://www.epi.org/">Economic Policy Institute</a>.</p><p>It says college-educated public employees earn 21% less than private sector workers with degrees.</p><p>It also found local government workers were compensated at about the same rate as their private sector counterparts.</p><p><a href="http://smlr.rutgers.edu/JeffreyKeefe">Jeff Keefe</a> is the Rutgers University management and labor relations professor who conducted the study:</p><blockquote><p>"So the study concludes that state government employees are under-compensated in the state of Michigan, while local government employees are neither over- or under-compensated in the state of Michigan."</p></blockquote><p>The report takes into account education, salaries, and benefits.</p><p>Ethan Pollack, with the Economic Policy Institute, says employee compensation is not the biggest factor behind the state’s budget trouble:</p><blockquote><p>&nbsp;"Michigan isn't significantly different than the deficits you are seeing all across the country…This is not about over-compensation of public sector workers. This is [about] two things. The cyclical deficit is from the recession, and the structural deficit is health care costs."</p></blockquote><p>The Economic Policy Institute says its seven-state study found growing health care costs, and not employee compensation, are the biggest factor in budget deficits. Thu, 03 Feb 2011 21:21:05 +0000 Rick Pluta 1159 at http://michiganradio.org Snyder report: state workers making more than twice their private sector counterparts http://michiganradio.org/post/snyder-report-state-workers-making-more-twice-their-private-sector-counterparts <p>Legislators are looking for places to trim the budget as they stare at a $1.8 billion budget hole.</p><p>Reducing state employee compensation is on the list.</p><p>Michigan Governor Rick Snyder released a report today that says public employees are making more than twice their private sector counterparts.</p><p><a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20110131/NEWS15/110131027/1001/news">The Detroit Free Press</a> says the "<a href="http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,1607,7-277-57959---,00.html">Citizen’s Guide to Michigan’s Financial Health</a>," may be sending a signal about "one way the new governor expects to address...the budget shortfall." From the Freep:</p><blockquote><p>He said the overall compensation of the average private sector workers fell 13% from 2000-09 while rising 19% for state employees and 13% for local government workers. For state workers, the average annual compensation -- $53,453 in salary, $31,623 in fringes and $13,000 for insurance-- was more than twice that of the private sector, the report said.</p></blockquote><p>The governor was quoted as saying, "<em>I'd be careful about over generalizing on this data but it does show an important trend that needs to be addressed."</em></p><p>Rick Pluta from the Michigan Public Radio Network reports:</p><blockquote><p><span style="font-size: 14pt; line-height: 200%;">Public employee unions and advocates for human services question some of the data used in the report. They also say they’d like to see Snyder’s plans for investing in schools and infrastructure, as well as protecting people hurt by the economy. </span> Mon, 31 Jan 2011 22:30:44 +0000 Mark Brush 1104 at http://michiganradio.org State employees... overcompensated fat cats? http://michiganradio.org/post/state-employees-overcompensated-fat-cats <p>Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican leadership in the legislature say pay and benefits for state employees need to be cut. No one has made a specific proposal yet. But, they’ve all implied that compared to the private sector state employees are over-compensated.</p> Fri, 14 Jan 2011 12:42:50 +0000 Lester Graham 877 at http://michiganradio.org State employees... overcompensated fat cats? State employee pay targeted in budget battles http://michiganradio.org/post/state-employee-pay-targeted-budget-battles <p>The start of the new year often brings in a lot of talk of good will. For those in politics, it's talk of bipartisanship.</p><p>In Michigan, that spirit is likely to dissolve quickly as the state faces a $1.8 billion budget deficit in the next fiscal year (the state's next fiscal year will start October 1st, 2011).</p><p>Peter Luke on <a href="http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/01/post_40.html">MLive.com</a> highlights the discussion beginning to take shape among the leaders in the state legislature.</p><p>Republicans pretty much control everything in Lansing now, and the first item they say they plan to cut are salaries and benefits for state employees.</p><p>Jase Bolger, the new Speaker in the State House of Representatives, said state employee benefits are definitely on the table if the state is going to close the enormous budget deficit gap:</p><blockquote><p>"There are significant dollars that need to be saved through our compensation models, not just salaries, but the entire compensation."</p></blockquote><p>In his recent piece on the looming budget deficit, <a href="http://michiganradionews.org/post/michigans-16-billion-budget-hole">Michigan Radio's</a> Lester Graham points out that slashing state employee salaries and benefits only gets them a small percentage of their overall $1.8 billion dollar goal. Thu, 06 Jan 2011 20:45:21 +0000 Mark Brush 781 at http://michiganradio.org State employee pay targeted in budget battles Attacking Public Employees http://michiganradio.org/post/attacking-public-employees <p>Every culture and civilization has a set of myths which are sometimes partly true, but which are exaggerated out of proportion.</p><p>For example, they say any child in America can grow up to be president. That was made more believable when Barack Obama won. But for too many children today, a decent education, let alone the White House, is an impossible dream.</p><p>We take other things on faith too. These days, something most people seem to believe is that we have too many public sector employees, that they are paid too much, and that the cost of their pensions and benefits are killing us.</p><p>As a result, it is widely expected that Governor Snyder will seek deep cuts in public sector benefits to help close a nearly two billion dollar hole in next year’s state budget. Thu, 06 Jan 2011 17:30:03 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 776 at http://michiganradio.org Attacking Public Employees