Questions raised about Calvo's layoff strategy - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Questions raised about Calvo's layoff strategy

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Following last week Friday's distribution of the general notices for proposed layoffs to Government of Guam employees, concern has been raised as to whether proper procedure was being followed as the island's public sector moves forward with Governor Eddie Calvo's reorganization plan. And the Civil Service Commission, along with Vice Speaker B.J. Cruz, is ensuring all is fair and legal before anyone gets laid off.

Friday marked the first of 30 days before the Department of Administration begins handing out individual written notices of layoffs for GovGuam employees. On that same day, Cruz felt compelled to call an oversight hearing on DOA and the CSC to determine the legality and force of these notices.

The vice speaker says he calling an oversight hearing because he is unclear of any specific plan to reorganize the government. "I decided that I should call an oversight hearing because I wanted to find out what exactly is the plan and how much were they intending to realize from this," he told KUAM News.

Cruz says he can understand how the governor has reorganized some agencies and departments yet is confused over other establishments, such as the Department of Labor and the Agency for Human Resources Development. He feels the governor shouldn't reduce the workforce by laying off employees under the guise of a reorganization.

"Tell me that I'm moving this department to this department, we're consolidating space, we're consolidating employees, and this is how we're saving money, I don't get that impression," he continued. "I get the impression that they're just laying off people or just threatening to lay off people in the hopes that they're rise up or something."

Although the certain number of layoffs haven't been determined as of yet, CSC director Tony Lamorena says he does anticipate a high rate of appeals considering this is the first time that GovGuam has instituted layoffs of this size. And because of this, he is reviewing proper procedure to brief commissioners so no hiccups happen along the way. "If the purpose of layoffs is the purpose of saving money, did they take over avenues into saving money? Did they look at cutting costs as far as CIP's or buying equipment in that type of thing? Those funds could have been used for the purposes of staffing," he said.

Lamorena says once GovGuam employees are issued their actual layoff notice, they can come to the CSC and appeal. However, he says due to employees who were terminated due to adverse actions last month, CSC has been getting high numbers than normal in terms of appeals where it could take seven months to even a year before the Commission can actually hear the case. He adds they are booking cases in March of next year.

Cruz says the layoff process will need proper regulation and if done improperly will have long lasting affects on the community. He adds that the oversight hearing would allow he and the rest of the Guam Legislature to get more information of what's next, noting, "All we seem to figure out is this is a reduction of force under the guise of a reorganization. I don't believe this is a reorganization that has necessitated a reduction in force and there is a difference there and that's where my concern is."

Cruz says if specific plans are provided soon, he won't see a need for the hearing.  As of now, the layoff process lies within DOA's Human Resources Department where they will be reviewing the different agencies and departments reports of what position will be terminated. The written individual notice of layoff will not be given earlier than the 30-day grace period, starting on Friday.

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