Corbett asks for state worker pay cuts
Vonnie Smid, a teacher in the Steel Valley School District for 12 years, plants signs along 22nd Street in Munhall, protesting Pennsylvania budget cuts in education.
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HARRISBURG -- Gov. Tom Corbett is asking state workers to take a 4 percent pay cut in order to help balance the budget.
The workers would be made whole again within two years, according to the proposal that would affect 45,000 of the lowest-paid state workers, all members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. About 1,800 of those laborers work in the Pittsburgh area.
AFSCME workers are paid about $34,000 a year on average, according to union executive director David Fillman. Under the Corbett proposal, their annual pay would decrease to an average of $32,640.
The pay cut would save the state more than $60 million.
Mr. Fillman said the reduction would be painful for workers while savings would do little to close the state's $4.2 billion budget gap.
"Do we know we're going to have to make some sacrifices in this budget? Of course we do," Mr. Fillman said. "But for a lot of folks 4 percent would be devastating."
He said the union already agreed months ago to take a one-year pay freeze, but the governor rejected that. Corbett spokesman Kevin Harley did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The governor also is asking workers to contribute more toward health insurance costs.
Mr. Fillman said the proposal is a starting point and is likely to change as it gets closer to June 30, when the current contract expires.
The next negotiating session is planned for April 22.
AFSCME represents about 55 percent of state workers, including Department of Transportation drivers, nursing assistants in state institutions, clerical workers, custodians and state park employees.
Correction/Clarification: (Published April 8, 2011) The state would realize a savings of more than $60 million a year if the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees agrees to Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal for a 4 percent pay cut. A story Thursday included an incorrect figure.
First Published April 7, 2011 12:00 am