State employees face job cuts

A press release from the state Office of Policy and Management said today the Department of Labor, working in concert with the Office of Labor Relations and the Office of Policy and Management, is providing notice to employees of layoffs as a result of reduced federal funding. The layoffs will result in recurring savings to the Department of more than $16 million.
The loss of funds is due to the federal formula which reduces funding when overall and state-by-state unemployment goes down. Connecticut’s unemployment rate today is 5.7%, down from over 9% in 2010 and 2011. At least six other states, including nearby Rhode Island, have laid off staff as a result of drops in federal funding. The Connecticut Department of Labor employs approximately 800 people, with 700 paid for with federal funds.
In total, 95 positions will be eliminated in the Department, as part of a cost saving and consolidation effort in response to the drop in federal funding. This plan includes reducing the number of American Job Centers from 11 to six (Danielson, Bridgeport, Hamden, Harford, New London and Waterbury); consolidating adjudications into three locations (Bridgeport, Middletown and Central Office); consolidating field audits into six locations (Bridgeport, Danielson, Hartford, Middletown, New London, Waterbury and Central Office); reducing locations for appeals to two (Waterbury and Middletown); and merging two call centers, which will be consolidated into Middletown.
Under the collective bargaining agreements that cover these employees, the state must provide at least six weeks’ notice of layoffs, which will be effective Oct. 1. In addition, many employees whose positions have been eliminated may have “bumping” rights, either within the Department of Labor or, in some cases, across state government. As a result, additional layoff notices may be provided in the coming weeks.
The state’s Placement and Training Committee, consisting of labor and management representatives, will work to identify appropriate employment for laid-off employees within state government where possible. Those employees who are not able to be placed in state employment right away will have re-employment rights to certain state vacancies in the future. In addition, the Department of Labor is making significant transition assistance available to its impacted employees.
“It is extraordinarily difficult to have to reduce staff, especially given the enormous contributions of these Department of Labor employees in getting Connecticut residents back to work during our long struggle to bring down unemployment in the state,” said Ben Barnes, OPM Secretary. “We are all fully committed to helping these valuable employees find new positions in state government or elsewhere, as soon as possible.”