AFSCME Council 18

Council 18 Speaks Out Against Gov's Decision to Cut Flex Time

AFSCME Council 18 is speaking out against Governor Martinez's vindictive decision to cut flex time for state employees. Both the Albuquerque Journal and Channel 13 covered the story.

Pasted below is the Journal story and a link to the story on their website.


Gov. Tells Agencies To Halt Flex Schedules

By Dan Boyd / Journal Staff Writer on Thu, Oct 27, 2011

SANTA FE – It’s back to the old “8 to 5″ for more state workers.
Two more New Mexico state agencies have done away with alternative work schedules for employees, prompted by Gov. Susana Martinez’s directive to boost government efficiency.

The Martinez administration has questioned whether the alternative, “flex” schedules compromise service to taxpayers and customers.

Greg Blair, a spokesman for the first-term Republican governor, said Martinez has directed cabinet secretaries to make their own decisions about what’s the most effective and efficient work schedules for their agencies.

“The governor believes each agency must be accessible to the people they serve, and having adequate staffing in the office during normal business hours is one way to ensure that New Mexicans are able to receive the services that their tax dollars fund,” Blair said.

Public employee unions are challenging the move away from flex-time schedules, claiming there is no evidence a stricter policy on employee schedules will save the state money.

“It’s a vindictive, anti-worker move on (the governor’s) part,” said Carter Bundy, the New Mexico political director of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union. “The state will lose workers because of this policy.”

The Children, Youth and Families Department rescinded alternative work schedules for most employees on Oct. 15, meaning employees have to work prescribed shifts – not four 10-hour days or schedules that otherwise deviate from normal work hours.

The change won’t take effect for the agency’s juvenile probation officers until Saturday, and a department spokesman said agency officials are considering allowing certain employees to keep their current schedules, depending on client needs.

About 200 of the agency’s 2,000 employees have submitted requests to continue working flex schedules, according to the department.

CYFD Secretary Yolanda Deines said all schedules will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

“We need to make sure the needs of CYFD clients are a priority and that we are operating as efficiently as possible,” Deines said in a statement. “We want to accommodate staff needs and be flexible when possible, but we must place the needs of CYFD clients first and be accountable to New Mexico taxpayers.”

However, one affected CYFD employee said no warning was given prior to the flex time announcement and predicted the move would ultimately hurt productivity.

Flex schedules allow employees to work modified shifts – such as coming into work one hour early in order to leave early – so they can attend to family obligations or for other reasons.

In addition to CYFD, the Department of Health is also rescinding flex schedules for an unspecified number of employees, Blair said.

That comes after the Taxation and Revenue Department and the Regulation and Licensing Department made similar policy changes earlier this year.

The state’s current collective bargaining contract allows union employees to apply for alternative schedules. State government cannot “unreasonably” deny or rescind such a schedule, according to the contract.

“There is no reason someone shouldn’t be able to drop off their kids and come to work 15 minutes early and then leave work 15 minutes early to pick them up,” Bundy said.

While some state workers have been working alternative schedules for years, the changes enacted by the Martinez administration effectively run contrary to a policy implemented by first-term Republican governor’s predecessor, Democrat Bill Richardson.

Three years ago, Richardson directed the State Personnel Office to look into four-day work weeks featuring extended hours in an effort to cut down on state vehicle use and rush-hour congestion on state roadways.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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