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Fight Developing Over Washington State Employee Furloughs

A plan to furlough Washington state employees is turning into an ugly fight between the governor's office and state employee unions.

State workers are resisting orders to take one unpaid day off a month for the next year. Olympia Correspondent Austin Jenkins has details.

The pins some Washington state employees are sporting say it all: "No FUrloughs." The pins are raising eyebrows because the F-U in furloughs is capitalized.

Tim Welch with the Washington Federation of State Employees says it doesn't mean what you think.

Tim Welch: "In our book F-U stands for a fouled-up follow-up on the part of management."

The legislature gave state agencies the option of coming up with alternatives to temporary lay-offs. But a Governor's official says there's no other practical option to save $40 million.

Only about a quarter of state workers are even eligible for furloughs. Everyone else is exempt.

Even so, the state Federation is demanding to formally bargain the details of the lay-off days.

Union officials also question whether the state will save as much money as it anticipates. They point to other states like Oregon where a spike in overtime claims is eating into the furlough savings.