Friday, May 28, 2010

Unpaid Day Off On Friday For Virginia State Workers

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Most Virginia state workers are getting a four-day holiday weekend under a budget-cutting move ordered by former Gov. Timothy Kaine.

Thousands of employees will take an unpaid day off Friday, returning to work on Tuesday after the Memorial Day holiday. Kaine ordered the move last September as part of $1.35 billion in cuts. The furlough is estimated to save $16.9 million.

Virginia's payroll covers about 102,000 people, but not all employees will be off. The unpaid day off won't apply to critical personnel such as police and emergency crews, who have taken staggered furlough days to ensure that services are not disrupted.

According to the National Association of State Personnel Executives, at least 20 states have required employees to take furloughs to help address budget shortfalls.

Gov. Bob McDonnell proposed additional furlough days to erase a $4.4 billion shortfall. So far, no more furloughs have been planned.

Sara Redding Wilson, state personnel director, said unpaid days off are a short-term remedy.

"It gets you cash fast but not necessarily what you need over the long haul," said Wilson, who has led the Virginia Department of Human Resource Management since 1998. "If it continues over the long term, it's no longer a furlough; it's a pay cut."

The furlough is the latest in a series of worker-related actions in an effort to save money. State workers have seen thousands of colleagues laid off and others have gone without pay raises for nearly four years.

"Most state employees are asking why we're shutting down state government for one day," said R. Ronald Jordan, lobbyist for the 18,000-member Virginia Governmental Employees Association. "The logic of one day seems to be more a symbolic move than a fiscal move that state employees appear to be sharing in the pain."

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