On April 19th, the Department of Labor and Workforce development held meetings in various locations throughout the state to notify 72 full-time state employees that their jobs were being terminated as a result of the restructuring of the state’s career centers. This number does not include any part-time and hourly state employees that will lose their jobs as a result of the closings.
In a meeting on Tuesday, April 30th, the Department of Labor told TSEA the reason for the career center closings is due to the loss of federal funds last year. The state continued funding those positions with non-recurring funds for one year; however, funding was not included in next year’s budget.
The TEAM Act currently requires a 60-day notice for any layoffs that occur prior to January 1, 2014. Therefore, state employees who received their notices on April 19th will work their last day on June 18th, 2013.
The 60-day notice requirement is also the reason the state gives for the timing of the layoffs, denying any connection to the end of the legislative session.
TSEA continues to gather details about the layoffs as quickly as we can, but we do know the following:
• Laid off state employees, who work through their layoff date, can expect to receive a severance package that includes $3,200 and college tuition assistance for two (2) years. No part-time workers are eligible for the severance.
• Some Veterans will not lose their jobs. Reps who are Veterans have a different classification and are funded with separate federal dollars. These dollars were not cut, therefore those Veteran reps will keep their jobs, but may be required to move to a different worksite. Veterans who are in job services positions will be laid off.
• The state says it plans to hold job fairs to help laid off state employees find work. (NOTE: Due to the NeoGov system being shut down to implement salary adjustments, laid off state employees will not be able to apply for state jobs from May 31st – June 19th) The state is also working to identify present openings for which RIF’d employees qualify. If you need help finding a job or have questions, please contact Melinda Williams at (615) 253-4809.
The Department and DOHR said that they are encouraging all state departments to give priority to those employees impacted by a RIF. Unfortunately, there is no way to identify RIF’ed employees in the state’s system. So, if you are impacted in a RIF, and are interested in another job with the state, you need to call the HR person in the department where you wish to apply and let them know that you are in a RIF. Also, ask your HR person and Ms. Williams to call on your behalf so that the other department knows your situation.
At Tuesday’s meeting, TSEA voiced concerns about the last minute manner in which the Department chose to act with regard to these layoffs. The Department pointed to a recent abrupt change in leadership and the need for last minute changes to be made to former Commissioner Davis’ plan in time to satisfy the 60-day notice timeline, but they agreed that communication could have been better. We will continue to monitor this process to ensure state employees’ rights are not violated.