Gov. David Paterson on Thursday ordered that 2,000 state jobs be cut through layoffs and attrition by Dec. 31, according to a memo to agency commissioners in New York.
Paterson said layoffs in the 200,000-worker force could begin in mid-November. At least one public employees union had already filed a claim against Paterson for his threats to start layoffs.
"We have a binding agreement with the administration prohibiting layoffs or even the threat of layoffs for the duration of the administration," said Stephen Madarasz of the Civil Service Employees Association union. "That's an agreement already upheld by the courts."
Earlier this week, the union filed a labor charge against the administration with the Public Employment Relations Board over just the threat of layoffs.
Paterson has said he would have to resort to layoffs because the unions refused to delay raises or take other action to provide $250 million in savings toward the state's multibillion deficits.
"The public employees unions offered us nothing," Paterson told WOR Radio in New York City. "They've left me no choice."
The unions say the memorandum of understanding that Paterson signed as part of legislation to create a new, less expensive tier of retirement rights for new employees bars layoffs until Dec. 31. Paterson has questioned whether that prohibits layoffs in a crisis that threatens the state's solvency.
An early retirement incentive has failed to shed enough jobs.
"Despite our best efforts the state is falling short of its financial plan targets," states the memo to agency commissioners from the state budget director. "We will need to take additional actions by the end of 2010 that will result in a reduction in the work force by 2,000 employees. You will be given the discretion to use layoffs as a part of this reduction in work force."
"We found out about it through the media," said Madarasz. "We're not going to shy away from what we feel we have to do."