N.Y. governor fires 8,900 state workers

Union refusal of cost-cutting concessions forced governor's hand, David Paterson's office says.

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By Julianne Pepitone, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

New York Governor David Paterson
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- New York Governor David Paterson ordered 8,900 state layoffs after employee unions refused concessions.

In a time of "unprecedented fiscal emergency," New York state was "left with no other option" than a state workforce reduction of about 8,900 employees to achieve the savings it needed, according to a memo from the governor's office.

In October, Paterson reached out to state employee unions to reach cost-cutting concessions together, according to the memo from director of state operations Dennis Whalen.

The state looked into a number of ways to deal with the "record budget deficits" and called upon the unions to partner with the state to reduce costs in order to avoid large-scale layoffs, Whalen's memo said.

But the labor organizations representing the state employees rejected all of Paterson's options, the memo said.

"This is not a decision that has been reached lightly," the memo said. "Governor Paterson was forced to make this difficult decision for the good of the entire state."

But the state's second-largest state-employee union disagreed.

"We take exception...that the public employees have offered no counter proposals to address the state's budget crisis," said Ken Brynien, president of the state's Public Employees Federation AFL-CIO. "We have been offering alternatives to raising revenue and cutting costs for months."

In a press release, Brynien said "there is absolutely no need to do layoffs," and the move will not save the money that the governor assumes.

"PEF's position is clear and unchanged," Brynien said. "We will not agree to any changes in our contract that reduce compensation."

The release outlined PEF's proposals for alternative ways to cut costs.

"Until the governor has implemented these savings and revenue-raising proposals, it is unconscionable to call for concessions from, or layoffs of, the state work force," the release said. "The policy of New York State should be to respect people who work hard for the public and to honor its commitments to those workers."

The office's budget division is finalizing a timetable for the reduction, which will be completed within the next week.

"The Governor has stressed that we all share the responsibility to be accountable to the taxpayers of New York, and this includes closing an historic budget gap through shared sacrifice," the memo said. To top of page

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