Cuts to health care benefits spare PA workers from furloughs

    After a late night of negotiations, Governor Rendell and Pennsylvania labor leaders have reached a deal that would avoid rolling furloughs of state employees.

    After a late night of negotiations, Governor Rendell and Pennsylvania labor leaders have reached a deal that would avoid rolling furloughs of state employees.

    Listen:
    [audio: reports20090402deal.mp3]

    An agreement has been reached, but it needs to be ratified by members of three unions before it takes effect. Under the deal, the state would cut back on health care benefit payments by twenty percent, which Rendell says will save the Commonwealth $200 million.

    In exchange, state employees won’t have to take two furlough days a month.

    Kathy Jellison is president of SEIU Local 668, which represents over 10,000 state workers.

    She says she’s relieved by the deal, but isn’t happy about it.

    Jellison: I mean, the governor was pretty firm on the rolling furloughs. And we were firm on not giving up the raises. So certainly it got tense at times. But we went through a good bit last night and into early morning and finally came up with something that I think we can both live with.

    The agreement runs through June 30, 2010. Rendell is vowing to pay back the deferred health care contributions once the state’s fiscal situation improves.

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