Wednesday May 28, 2003
Mayor Jerry Abramson today announced that he will eliminate more than 660 unneeded positions in Louisville Metro Government, saving more than $10 million in the budget he will propose on Thursday.
About 75 percent of the cuts--520 positions--were made by eliminating vacancies, many held open as a result of a four-month hiring freeze. The remaining 140 job cuts require layoffs, and employees yesterday began getting notice that their jobs will be eliminated June 30.
"It won't be an easy time for the employees or the supervisors who deliver the news," Abramson said during a Wednesday news conference. "It will not be easy for the co-workers who will have to pick up the slack and the managers who will have to do more with less."
Eliminating duplication is the chief reason for the workforce reduction, Abramson said.
Departments throughout the merged government simply have more people than necessary to do the job. However, declining revenues resulting from a continuing national economic decline also make it necessary to act now, he said.
"We should do more with less because that will fulfill the promise of merger," Abramson said. "We must do more with less because the realities of a sputtering national economy demand it."
The eliminated positions include more than 300 full-time positions and 360 part-time and seasonal positions, Abramson said.
The 140 employees who get layoff notices this week will be added to the government's talent pool and get "priority consideration" for positions that need to be filled in other areas of government. Those employees also will get job placement assistance and help with paperwork for continuing health benefits under federal law.
Abramson said that today's announcement will not be the end of efforts to streamline the new government and eliminate duplication, changes that may result in additional layoffs.
In some areas where layoffs are occurring, Abramson said the new government is outsourcing the services provided to private companies "that are more cost-efficient and effective for taxpayers."
In addition to the position cuts, the mayor announced that non-union employees will not receive pay raises and he challenged union employees to "share in the pain in years to come" by agreeing to new contracts that include no pay raises for the first year. Union employees will get pay raises in the upcoming year, ranging from 4 percent to 6 percent, under the terms of 26 multi-year contracts carried over from the old city and county governments. The cost to taxpayers is about $7 million, not including health insurance benefit increases.
"As each of the 26 union contracts expires, workers can expect the first year of the renegotiated contract to include no pay raise," Abramson said. "I've long supported unions and unions have supported me. But that's the only fair thing to do."
Abramson also announced that all non-union employees will begin working 40 hours a week as of July 1. The longer workweek, which will come without pay increases, will also be a key topic in renegotiating union contracts.
Based on comparative research, Abramson said most Louisville Metro Government employees who work 35 or 37.5 hours a week are already compensated at levels on par with private sector employees working 40-hour workweeks. "Most people who pay our salaries work at least 40 hours a week and expect the same from us," Abramson said.