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Township layoffs looming



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February 10, 2010 - For Carol Gabris, human resource director for Independence Township, budget reductions are a matter of dollars, not people.

"If you budget for $100,000 and you have to reduce it to $75,000, as a department head, you have to cut $25,000 out of that budget," she said. "It can be through cutting programs, cutting expenses in your department or division, and people are a part of that whole process."

Due to economic downturns, "reduction in force" is unavoidable, Gabris said at the Feb. 2 township board meeting,

She is hoping to have final layoff numbers by Feb. 19, assuming "there are no glitches in the road." Gabris had her first set of employee meetings the last week of January and will have the last set this week.

"The employee job bumping process in the current AFSCME collective bargaining agreement, though designed to save jobs, is difficult at best," she said. "It also creates a domino effect, which adds to its complexity. I think even the union would agree this process is difficult. However, the process does work."

Without collective bargaining agreement, they could have seven layoffs, but she is only hoping for three or four, she told township trustees.

"The numbers I gave are basically tentative because there is another meeting, and out of that meeting will come the final placements and layoffs," Gabris said. "People can't realistically hang their hat on those numbers."

Employees placed on "final layoff" will meet with her and union representatives to receive a "transition package," she said.

AFSCME Union President Craig Richardson said they have some "large hurdles to get over to get things back in balance."

"Concerning negotiations we're just getting started, trying to cooperate on both sides as best as possible to solve some of the financial problems the township is facing," he said.

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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