Some state Department of Environmental Conservation employees received letters from management Tuesday, telling them what positions are expected to be eliminated.
The layoffs are part of Gov. David Paterson's plan to cut 898 state workers and save about $250 million in the current fiscal year.
It's unclear right now exactly how many people would be cut from the offices in Ray Brook, which is part of DEC's Region 5. Paterson has said that, statewide, DEC would have to lay off about 150 of its roughly 3,200 workers.
Information about what positions are being cut hasn't been made public. DEC's Albany office referred calls to the Division of Budget. The Division of Budget's press office did not return phone calls Wednesday, but spokesman Erik Kriss did state in an e-mail that "employees may have the right to 'bump' less senior employees, so until employees with that option make their decisions, we will not know exactly which employees or which positions will be affected by layoff."
He said the letters were sent at this point because the official layoff notices must be sent "by Dec. 10 in conformance with contractual obligations to provide at least 20 days advance notice; layoffs are to be effective close of business Dec. 31."
The letters were sent to all employees who could potentially be affected. Even though about 150 positions are slated for elimination, the letters were sent out to a greater number of DEC employees because there is expected to be some movement within the agency.
The letters coincide with a public hearing by the state Assembly's Environmental Conservation Committee regarding what impact this year's state budget has had on the DEC's staffing levels and programs. The hearing is scheduled for today in Albany.
"We are still fighting this," Public Employees Federation spokeswoman Darcy Wells said Wednesday. "Tomorrow, some of our members from our union will be testifying at a hearing in Albany on what it will mean to this agency if these layoffs go forward. We've got some pretty specific and alarming examples of what's at sake."
The Civil Service Employees Association and PEF are also following the layoffs very closely to make sure that the proper procedures are followed, spokespeople from both organizations said.
"Right now, we are keeping all of our legal options open," said Wells, whose union represents 1,846 DEC workers.
Contact Mike Lynch at 891-2600 ext. 28 or firstname.lastname@example.org.