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Michigan, State Employees Reach Tentative Deal

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LANSING (AP) – Unions representing about 35,000 state workers soon will be voting on new contracts after a tentative agreement reached Wednesday with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration.

The tentative deal would cover the state’s 2012-13 and 2013-14 budget years, meaning economic changes such as wages would kick in Oct. 1, 2012. Non-economic changes could begin as early as Jan.1, 2012.

The Snyder administration and union coalition did not immediately release details of the agreement, pending notification of state workers. But the agreement does not address roughly $145 million in state employee concessions sought by the Snyder administration for the state’s current budget year that began Oct. 1.

That means previously announced cost-saving contingency plans by the Snyder administration, such as requiring unionized state workers to take at least four unpaid furlough days off, remain in place for this budget year.

The Snyder administration and unions have been bargaining since July. The union coalition includes units of the United Auto Workers, Service Employees International Union, the Michigan Corrections Organization, the Michigan State Employees Association and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Individual unions must ratify the tentative agreement separately.

The unions say the agreement could lead to implementation of some potential cost-saving measures they’ve supported such as reducing the number of managers in favor of front-line employees and savings through state vendor contracts.

“Both sides worked hard to reach an agreement that recognizes the value of state employees who work on the front lines every day for Michigan’s citizens and the need for shared sacrifice as the state addresses its budgetary challenges,” Cindy Estrada, an international UAW vice president, said in a statement.

Kurt Weiss, a spokesman for the Office of the State Employer, said the Snyder administration is “happy” there’s a tentative agreement in place but would not discuss details of the deal.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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