State Employees React to Senate's Day Off

6 years 1 month 4 weeks ago November 23, 2010 Nov 23, 2010 Tuesday, November 23 2010 Tuesday, November 23, 2010 6:01:08 PM CST in News
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JEFFERSON CITY - Some state employees do not approve of President Pro Tem, Senator Charlie Shields' decision to give Senate employees the Friday after Thanksgiving off with pay. Senator spokesperson Farrah Fite told KOMU the legislative branch is separate from the executive branch and can declare holidays itself. Governor Nixon is in charge of the executive branch. Governor spokesperson Scott Holste said Nixon made the decision that Friday would be a work day back in March. He said it saves the state about $2 million and that employees still have the option like any other day to take annual leave.

The senate office said only around 100, around half of senate employees, get the day off with pay. If the employees works for a senator, it is up to their supervisor if they get the day off. There will still be employees in the office taking constituent calls on Friday. Fite explained Shields' decision is a gift to the senate staff.

"Over the past few years, the senate has actually reduced it's number of staff and we've been working off smaller budgets," Fite said. "So this is his way of saying thank you to staff for doing more with less."

KOMU spoke with numerous state workers, none of which would go on camera.  Some said they think it's unfair the senate staff gets Friday off and they said the state keeps cutting back employees' benefits. One woman said though, it doesn't really bother her; she's just glad she's got a job.

Fite said the paid time-off on Friday makes up for the holidays the Senate misses when it's in session in the spring. 

"Traditionally they work those holidays without seeing any benefit for having done so and this is a way Senator Shields can say thank you," she said.

This year is the first time since 1991 that the governor did not grant black Friday a holiday for workers, according to records on the Secretary of State website.

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