Rhode Island asks state employees for furlough volunteers

The Rhode Island Department of Administration asked last week for state executive branch employees to volunteer to participate in the state’s Department of Labor and Training WorkShare program in order to address a projected $800 million budget deficit. According to WPRI, program participants “would work 60% of their regular weekly hours and be eligible for unemployment benefits through the federal CARES act for the remaining hours, and also receive the $600 dollar a week WorkShare payment through the end of July.” The plan runs through Sept. 5.

According to the Taunton Gazette, the Department of Administration reached agreement with the “major unions representing eligible, executive branch employees” on June 3 for members to participate in the program. (To view a list of labor unions representing state employees, click here.)

Department of Administration Director Brett Smiley said, “While we await more news from Washington and Congress, this was a prudent strategy to accrue millions [in] savings over the summer in a manner that would enable a majority of our workforce to be held harmless economically.” According to the Taunton Gazette, Smiley estimates the state would save $4.7 million if 1,000 employees participate.

Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) said, “It’s a voluntary program but I am asking, encouraging, as many employees to participate as possible because that will enable us to maximize our savings.”

The Providence Journal reported on June 11 that according to a Department of Administration spokeswoman, “So far over 1,000 state employees have volunteered to participate in the State’s WorkShare Program, representing 27 agencies, including Executive Branch agencies, URI, the Legislature, Office of Attorney General and Office of Secretary of State.”

What we’ve been reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 96 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking.

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Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

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Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s)

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Recent legislative actions

Below is a complete list of relevant legislative actions taken since our last issue.

  • California SB1173: Existing law requires public employers to provide unions with contact information for all employees within the bargaining unit. Existing law also requires that public employers provide unions with contact information for new employees within 30 days of hire. This bill would impose liability on employers who violate these provisions three or more times in a 12-month period.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Referred to Appropriations Committee June 8.