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Gov. Patrick, Unions Discuss Possible Furloughs

This article is more than 9 years old.

Gov. Deval Patrick has begun negotiations with public employee union representatives as he devises large budget cuts that could include laying off up to 2,000 state workers.

Patrick said he hopes unpaid furlough days and other measures will make such large staff reductions unnecessary. "Furloughs are one of the possible strategies," Patrick said before a meeting with union officials Monday. "It could be in combination with other measures. The point is to have an open, respectful and candid conversation with union leadership."

Robert Haynes, the president of the state AFL-CIO, said prior to the meeting that workers understand the state is facing dire fiscal conditions and may be open to furlough days and other concessions.

"If sacrifices are made now there has to be some opportunity later, when things improve, to restore the kinds of contributions the unions made to solve the problem," Haynes said.

Haynes stressed that several unions represent state workers, and that each would conduct its own negotiations.

The layoffs are one of several budget cutting measures Patrick has mentioned to bridge a projected $600 million revenue shortfall this fiscal year.

The governor of Rhode Island has been locked in a dispute with public employee unions over his own furlough plan. In New Hampshire, the governor recently reached a furlough deal that avoided hundreds of layoffs.

This program aired on October 19, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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