Sunday, August 14, 2011

Massive Layoffs Possible for GovGuam

"A Message to GovGuam Employees"
Governor Edward Baza Calvo
The Marianas Variety
August 12, 2011

Good afternoon my fellow GovGuam workers,

Twenty years ago in 1991, the government we work under started becoming more expensive to operate than the cash coming in to operate it. Over those past 20 years, government leaders did everything possible to keep the government afloat. It started with more applications for federal grants.

Some last 'til today. Some ran out of funding. Then, government startedpaying its vendors late so it could have cash for payroll. And when that was not enough, government started using the people's tax refunds to pay for
your paychecks.

That bill to the people is now $280 million.

The only reason this government hasn't collapsed is that it's used the tax refunds of 44,000 people to pay your paycheck. I know that's not your fault. Most of you work very hard, and you earned that paycheck every two weeks. It is your employer who has written you an empty promise. Your employer gave you a job, but never told you that at some time, because of his or her
actions, the money for your paycheck will run out. And your employer also never told you that the money being used to pay you was money that belonged to someone else.

Worse, there have been periods in the last 20 years, when your employer knew that the money was running out, that your employer decided it was okay to appropriate millions in unnecessary expenses, like subsidies, travel and pet projects. At one time, there were 700 employees at the Legislature.

There used to be over 200 employees at the Governor's Office. This government even paid for a medical referral office in Manila that allegedly turned out to be a night club. When the money started to run out, your employer didn't decide to save it so that there would be enough money in the future for your job. Your employer didn't even put away the money needed to pay people their tax refunds.

As a matter of fact, your employer took that money to pay you your salary.

My fellow GovGuam workers, I have the unfortunate duty and responsibility of being the first of your employers to tell you the hard truth. We cannot take from people's tax refunds any longer. Thousands of them are suffering because they can't get medical care. But, even more practical than that, it has come to a point where there's not only insufficient cash for refunds,
there's nearly not enough for payroll.

The writing's been on the wall for 20 years. Yet, your employer did nothing to make government more efficient and less costly. No substantial action was ever taken to reorganize government and streamline it. If this had been done small steps at a time over the last 20 years, then today I wouldn't have to make the decisions I am making.

Unfortunately, everything has come to a head. This government is more expensive to operate than the cash coming in. It is with deep regret that a reduction in force is necessary through layoffs. Now, to be clear, I have decided against a 32-hour workweek. For one, it does not solve the problem that government is too expensive to operate because at some time, we would revert back to a 40-hour workweek. Second, it is not right to apply these measures across the board. That would destabilize critical education, health
and safety services provided to this community.

On that note, I want to assure any of you who may feel that there are some bad apples in the government who are spoiling the bunch: I've given strict instructions to your director to ensure that employees who underperform or conduct themselves against the rules go through the adverse action process.

I also want you to know that my office is not exempt from this. As a matter of fact, we've already reduced the number of positions and people here at Adelup, and we will be terminating more. When we came to office, we knew we needed to set the example and make the sacrifices before anyone else. That is why we reduced the workforce at Adelup by 16 percent, from 95 employees
to 80. I am also terminating more positions at the Governor's Office.

There is also a misconception that Department of Education should not be cut. While I am not imposing a 10 percent cut on DOE, I've received plans from the Interim Superintendent and the Guam Education Board of cuts that are being considered to non-essential services. That is the key here. I am very clearly prioritizing the education, health and safety agencies - but I
fully expect those agencies to eliminate waste and redundancy so funds can be used to hire teachers, police officers and firefighters, doctors and nurses. This is one government. We must all do our part to promote more efficient services to the people, especially in the priority and critical areas.

By tomorrow, every government employee under my purview will receive a general notice of pending layoff. This does not mean you will be laid off. It merely informs you of the possibility of a layoff in your department. It provides you with options and alternatives you may wish to explore. Thirty days from then, individual layoff notices may be sent to those slated for layoff by the Department of Administration HR division. This will be based on the plans submitted by your director. Please keep in mind as well that the elimination of your position may not mean your job is eliminated.

Classified employees have bumping rights. Your performance and your seniority will be factored into the assessment. And you certainly have due process and priority placement rights.

I wish it were not this way, but it is. If there is anything calming I cansay to you, it would be this: First, we are not looking to layoff a large percentage of the workforce. We're not looking at a 25 percent cut, or even a 10 percent cut all at once. That would be devastating to the economy.

Wherever we can, we are exhausting all avenues to cut costs before laying off classified employees.

We also won't just drop laid off employees. Every effort will be made toward job placement in the private sector, small business development or getting laid off workers through college. This community desperately needs more professionals like teachers, law enforcement officers and nurses. We hope to reorganize and streamline government to a point where we can afford
to get these professionals to provide critical services.

This government, your employer, has been sick for 20 years. No one ever gave it medicine. Year after year, it got sicker and sicker. Government needs some bitter medicine to survive. It won't taste good at first, but at some point, it will be the sickness that goes away. Rightsizing this government will provide you the job security you so rightfully deserve... so that none of your future employers will ever have to make the decisions I am making now. I'm sorry that you've been misled all these years, but I can't take back the past and magically right its sins. I can only try to make things better now. And I will, because I will not suffer your children and
their children to a future bankrupted by the sins of the past.

I ask for God's blessings over every one of you. Thank you.