Union sounds alarm about possibility of county layoffs

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Saying members have been put on notice that layoffs are in the offing for Community Development Resource Agency staff, Placer County’s employee union wants more consideration of alternatives to job losses. Chuck Thiel, business representative for the Placer Public Employees Organization Local 39, told the Board of Supervisors that the union wants to partner with the county in addressing the situation. “And if management’s statements regarding layoffs are true, that discussions start sooner rather than later,” Thiel said. Without reference to the possibility of layoffs, CEO Tom Miller issued a statement later in the day through the county’s public information office saying that over the next few weeks the Board of Supervisors will be looking at the 2008-09 budget projections and providing direction to staff. At Tuesday’s meeting, Thiel and several Community Development Resource Agency staff members addressed the board during public comment period. The agency is an umbrella department for several county functions revolving around land development, including building inspection planning – all hard hit by the credit crisis and burst housing bubble. The building division has already sustained layoffs late last year. With additional budget cuts requested by the CEO’s office to the different county departments, speakers concentrated on the possibility of development resource agency job losses. Jennifer Dzakowic, a Planning Department employee and a director on the union board, said it’s apparent supervisors are making hard choices. But that her hope is that the board will work diligently with the union and keep employees informed as decisions are made, she said. Some of the options Thiel said should be considered include a voluntary furlough of work hours through a regularly scheduled reduction of the work week or holiday closure. “Several of the employees are willing to job share or reduce their schedule to part-time,” he added. Buyouts or early retirement incentives are other fiscally responsible solutions that would avoid layoffs. “It would also reduce the work force without adding to the county’s unemployment problem,” Thiel said. Placer is one of the biggest employers in the county. It has grown in recent years to encompass 2,768 allocated positions in its work force, with 2,528 currently funded. Of those funded positions, 2,442 are currently filled. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.comor comment at