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Onondaga County, CSEA agree to furlough workers to minimize layoffs

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon (left) with Sen. Charles Schumer in Syracuse Tuesday.

Onondaga County has come to an agreement with its largest union, CSEA, to furlough workers in order to minimize layoffs. This comes after the county legislature voted last week to give the county executive’s administration the power to lay off up to 250 workers, in an effort to fill a $6 million hole, caused by the economic shutdown, by the end of the year. 

County Executive Ryan McMahon said they will start with voluntary furloughs, based off of certain child care issues or medical concerns, before making furloughs mandatory.

“We are going to need participation to avoid a compulsory furlough and a layoff,” McMahon said. “If we don’t get a lot of voluntary participation, then essentially what we’re doing is instead of having a certain number of layoffs, we’ll work in furloughs into as many positions as we can.”

A retirement incentive from earlier this year is also being offered to workers. They have until next Tuesday to take that deal. Furloughs could go into effect until March 31 of next year. Layoffs are still expected for seasonal work and in areas that have reduced services during the pandemic.

McMahon said there are still a lot of variables. Sales tax collection could get better. A federal stimulus bill could pass next month. McMahon doesn’t have a lot of faith in those options. The county is looking at the situation weekly.  

“We’ve already become the leanest county government in the history of the county, through this pandemic,” McMahon said. “But the reality is this is what we have to do. We have to balance a budget in 2020 and we have to put forward a budget in 2021.”

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.