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Washington County Highway Department shutting down for week in August

2010-07-28T20:37:00Z Washington County Highway Department shutting down for week in AugustBy LYDIA WHEELER Glens Falls Post-Star

FORT EDWARD -- The Washington County Highway Department will shut down for a week in August, leaving 60-plus people without a paycheck.

In an effort to balance the budget, the county cut about $350,000 from the county payroll on the first of the year and budgeted two days off without pay for every county employee, as part of a voluntary leave program, said Kevin Hayes, the county administrator.

But because the contracts for union employees in the Highway Department guarantee workers a 40-hour week, Hayes said, those workers would still get a week's pay even if they took two days off.

To accommodate voluntary furlough days, the union would have had to amend the contracts, which at first they refused to do, so Hayes said the county decided to shut the department down for a week.

In negotiations, Hayes said, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 294, the union representing Highway Department employees, agreed to amend the contract if the county agreed not to lay off anyone else for the rest of the year.

Without knowing how much state aid the county was going to receive, Hayes said, the board couldn't agree to a layoff moratorium.

"So therefore, now, we're going ahead with a one-week shutdown, beginning the week of Aug. 23, and the men have been notified," Hayes said.

The weeklong layoff affects 60-plus union workers in the Highway Department.

Because the department has only about 15 nonunion workers, it will essentially stop operating for a week, according to Jackson Supervisor Alan Brown, who is the chairman of the Public Works Committee.

"You're not going to have any trucks running or blacktop going down, or roadsides being mowed, so it's essentially shutting the Highway Department down. When we saw our budget position, the concept was furloughs, but it didn't work," he said.

Brown said he wishes layoffs weren't necessary.

"The furlough system works so that people can take hours off in different pay periods, so the economic impact would be minimal. Now, they are being laid off for one whole week, so they lose a whole week's pay all at once, which is not always easy for people," he said.

Hayes said the county has set goals for each department on voluntary furlough days. So far, he said, the county has saved about a third of the $192,000 worth of time county leaders were looking for.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 294 union did not return calls to the The Post-Star by deadline.




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(6) Comments

  1. taxpayer38
    Report Abuse
    taxpayer38 - July 30, 2010 12:25 pm
    ? worker's ageed to take 20hr.when the others only take 16hr.All they asked not to layday off for the rest of the year,is that wrong?
  2. gsetech
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    gsetech - July 29, 2010 10:00 pm
    What's the big deal if shovels have to hold themselves up for a week? Let's consider the good of the many and not the good of the few.
  3. boston
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    boston - July 29, 2010 2:43 pm
    When I was working at the DPW the union leaders were mostly management want-to-bes and back stabers, just looking out for themselves. It wasn't the average union member that brought this crisis to where it is. It's mostly the overpaid supervisors with arrogant and egotistical attitudes. Keven Hayes appearantly isn't doing a good job as budget officer. Abolish the county planner and have the towns do it. No need for another level of government. Reduce the over paid supervisors by 10% per year and no retirement money from the supervisors job until we find out if they're really in it for the money or they REALLY have a community spirt and are willing to work for the same money as a full time NH Rep which is 100$ PER YEAR!! How many supervisors are already making more per year from their retirements and businesses than the average county worker? Who pays for the Supervisors party, party at Heulett's Landing every year.
  4. EnoughIsEnough
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    EnoughIsEnough - July 29, 2010 12:35 pm
    I bet the county would save even more if they shut down social services for a week
  5. Cricket
    Report Abuse
    Cricket - July 29, 2010 11:19 am
    Well said, BTBuilder. Most of us are taking hits in one way or another. You can take your pain in smaller doses, or be stubborn and take it all with one big jab.
  6. BobTheBuilder
    Report Abuse
    BobTheBuilder - July 28, 2010 11:28 pm
    I was a union member in a job I held 35 years ago and while I think unions have done great things for the average non-union working stiff like getting a 40 hour work week to be the norm, time and a half for OT and other things that they have fought and lobbied for, but in this instance they have their collective heads up their butts. I found that most of the union members and reps that I worked with weren't capable of reading and understanding the contract that was written in plain English. This case is living proof that union members are of limited intelligence when it comes to common sense and simple math. Two days off that you could spread out over numerous weeks with a couple of hours here and there vs. a whole week off in a no-brainer but they couldn't figure that out. It's time for the unions to wake up and smell the coffee, there's no money and many of the people who pay the taxes that pay their salary are hurting worse than they are.


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