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New York Gov. David Paterson on Tuesday defended the state's use of temporary workers from staffing firms after one union said Jan. 14 that the state spent $62 million on temporary workers from employment agencies who have no benefits.
Use of temporary personnel services are, on average 10% less expensive than an equivalent state worker, the Governor's Office said Tuesday.
In some cases temporary workers are paid a higher rate than state workers -- such as in the medical field and in certain trades such as steamfitters -- but that is justified based on the temporary nature of the work or inability to recruit permanent workers, according to the Governor's Office. Excluding the medical field and certain trades, the estimated savings by using personnel services is 42%.
In addition, the Governor's Office said monthly spending on temps is decreasing -- falling to $1.4 million in December 2009 from $4.3 million in July 2008.
The Governor's Office also said the $62 million represents a 19-month period while most budget figures are presented for 12-month periods, and only $4 million of that spend was for agencies under the governor's direct control. It also said executive agencies are projected to spend $19 million in temporary workers during the 2009-2010 fiscal year compared with almost $8 billion on salaries and fringe benefits for permanent workers in executive agencies under the governor's control.
The Civil Service Employees Association had blasted the use of temporary worker on Jan. 14.
"These workers, who receive no benefits and have no rights, have been used for years to hide the fact that the state workforce has been depleted to such an extent that the agencies are no longer able to deliver promised services to the citizens of this state," the union said. "What's more, the Paterson administration is paying a premium for these workers with the bulk of the money going to the temp agencies."
CSEA said it's preparing legal action over temporary workers, and it released a telephone number that temporary workers employed by staffing firms could use to contact the union.
Tuesday's defense of staffing firms was also criticized by the union.
"The excessive use of temporary workers at premium prices through temp agencies is at its heart dishonest," CSEA President Danny Donohue said in a press release.
The Governor's Office is looking at making $250 million in workforce savings in its 2010-2011 executive budget.
In addition to the CSEA criticism, a separate report by the New York State Public Employees Federation claimed the state could save more than $656 million in three years by cutting down on the use of private consultants.