Unionized state employees are breathing a little easier today, now that Gov. Rick Snyder has confirmed he does not plan to issue layoff notices effective a month from today. The bad news is that the financially savvy guv instead wants to push ahead with talks to fix the structural imbalances in the state budget, which likely will end up exerting more pressure on union leaders than layoffs would.
Why? Because structural changes spread savings across the existing workforce instead of delivering savings by cutting loose employees who cannot vote on contract changes or concessions.
The governor is “urging the unions to come to the table for fiscal year ’12 and really wants to work cooperatively with them” on concessions that will include health care and retirement costs, the governor’s press secretary, Sara Wurfel, told The Detroit News today. “If they won’t come to the table, we will be forced to address contingency plans.”
Those would include layoffs of union employees, as well as heeding a suggestion from state union leaders and restructuring the ranks of managers. But if the past is prologue, expect Snyder to look to avoid a direct confrontation with the unions and instead let the numbers and financial reality drive the process toward an acceptable, if distasteful, conclusion.