State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Katie Meyer covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

In attempt to keep jobs, furloughed state workers filing appeals

Written by Katie Meyer, Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 8, 2016 4:16 AM

SEIU Local 668 workers hold a rally soon after hearing about their impending layoffs. (Photo by Katie Meyer/WITF)

(Harrisburg) -- Some 521 workers in the state's Unemployment Compensation program are slated to be laid off in less than two weeks, and the union that represents many of them is making a last-ditch effort to save some of their jobs.

Furloughed state workers in Pennsylvania can file civil service appeals if they want to contest the loss of their position.

If it's accepted, they get a hearing at which the agency that laid them off has to defend the cut.

SEIU Local 668 President Tom Herman said his union is helping as many of its members as possible to file the appeals.

He said in the best-case scenario, the move could force the Department of Labor and Industries to reverse its decision to close three of the state's jobless centers due to a lack of funding.

"The civil service appeal process is one of the few options that we have available to us," he said. "And we're going to utilize that, and we're going to defend the best cases that we have."

Herman said several hundred appeals have been filed so far.

A spokesperson for Labor and Industries said the department is sympathetic to the workers, but even if their appeals are successful the program can't afford that many employees.

The statement said that "absent Senate action, there is no ability to redirect this funding and we cannot simply find this money elsewhere--it does not exist."

The layoffs were announced last month, after the Senate declined to vote on a funding bill.

It has kicked off a wave of partisan disagreement between Democratic governor Tom Wolf and the GOP-led Senate.

Published in News, State House Sound Bites

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