With a deadline for state employee union contracts a little over a week away, SEIU members are drawing attention to their push for a "fair and decent" state budget and contract.
The event was one of several to be held around the state today to highlight the state employee contract negotiations aimed at producing an agreement before the current document expires June 30. Union members are expected to gather at Piatt Place in Pittsburgh around 5 p.m.
The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 13, the state's largest public employee union, also is in negotiations.
SEIU Local 668 president Kathy Jellison said that this afternoon, the group would be heading into its eighth contract meeting with staffers for Gov. Tom Corbett.
Ms. Jellison, whose local chapter represents about 10,000 state workers, said there's been "some progress" in past meetings with the administration, but that "the big issues are still on the table."
She also said they were concerned about the potential for rolling furloughs, since many of the SEIU members work in welfare, corrections, or other service-based sectors that require consistent staffing.
Steven Jarrell, a Department of Public Welfare case worker from Chambersburg, said he would prefer to see a higher tax burden for Pennsylvania businesses than the education and social services cuts that are up for discussion. Without proper resources in the budget and a fair contract, it would be harder for state employees to do their jobs, he said.
"If they don't give us a decent contract, it does impact the services that government provides," Mr. Jarrell said.