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Placer County’s Christmas closing proposal criticized

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County’s employee union asked the Board of Supervisors Tuesday to consider alternatives to a plan that would see offices closed during the week of Dec. 22 through Dec. 26. Chuck Thiel, Placer Public Employees Organization-Stationary Engineers, Local 39 business representative, told supervisors that the union considers the plan both an unfair labor practice and bad-faith bargaining that could end up in litigation. Supervisors discussed the budget and the Christmas closure in a closed-door session Tuesday, with the county public information office issuing a statement afterward that “the county continues to look for a plan involving unpaid leave that will minimize the impact on employees and the public.” Supervisors remained silent during the first half hour of Tuesday’s meeting, when speakers provided support and opposition to the four-day Christmas-closing proposal. Thiel said the impact would not only be on the estimated 1,500 to 2,000 employees who would be given the week off without pay but would also have an impact on the local economy, with those workers facing tighter budgets and unable to spend what they would have planned for. The impact would be felt most by low-wage workers, who would have their ability to pay rent and buy food impacted, he said. Supervisors will hear information about budget issues and consider possible ways to cut costs at its Dec. 9 meeting, the county’s statement said. Critical services such as law enforcement would remain available. The county estimates $1.5 million to $2 million could be saved at a time it is facing an $8 million shortfall. Despite earlier cost-cutting, County CEO Tom Miller said “business as usual is not sustainable.” “Our priority will be to rebalance this year’s budget, while minimizing the reductions in service to our communities.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.