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State Budget Woes Lead to Fire Dept. Cutbacks, Pension Reductions and Potential Changes to OT and Break Time Laws

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December 23, 2008

Media outlets from coast to coast have reported recently on the effects the economic crisis has had on public services and employee benefits and protections.  The City of Philadelphia has proposed cutbacks in its Fire Department, including deactivating five engine companies and two ladder companies, which prompted the firefighters and their union to march on City Hall in protest, as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer here, and to sue the City, seeking to enjoin the cuts, as reported here

In New York, the governor has proposed reducing pension benefits for state and municipal workers, with critical changes in the pensions of New York City police officers, a move met with criticism by the union representing those employees, as reported by The New York Times here and here.

Finally, laws governing overtime pay and lunch breaks in California are now on the table in tough budget negotiations between the governor and lawmakers seeking to fix a $14.8 billion state budget deficit, as reported by the Los Angeles Times here.  Certain leaders argue that workplace reforms, including changes to overtime pay calculations and easing of rigid rest break requirements, are necessary to keep employers in California, while labor groups protest any rollback of hard-fought gains for workers in that state.

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