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Footnotes to the shutdown: Read the layoff notice

How should a government shutdown layoff notice read? Many state employees I speak with feel the letters they received were too impersonal and failed to reflect the gravity of the situation and the consequences of putting so many workers out of work for an indefinite period of time. Here’s a copy of the letter (click here for a full screen view). What do you think?

Whatever side you come down on, please be thoughtful and nuanced. We want dialogue, not catfights.

Other footnotes to the shutdown:

Keep reading! The Intelligencer covers the shutdown:

Comments (13)

  1. Submitted by Pat McGee on 06/15/2011 - 12:12 pm.

    A layoff notice is a legal document that describes and informs about a legal situation. Here, it describes a situation governed by union contracts, civil law, civil services rules, etc. Individual situations under layoff are complex and, often change as circumstances changes. To address all the possible permutations for each employee of thousands of state employees in a letter is impossible.

    Layoffs may not seem like a fluid situation but they are. Information and individual circumstances can change daily, if not more often. Yes, it is incredibly stressful to face a layoff and uncertainty but, short of a budget agreement, there is no magic way to make it easier for the affected employees.

    I have been through several layoff “episodes” in my life in both private and public sectors. It stinks. This one particularly reeks and I completely blame the Republicans.

  2. Submitted by Robert Langford on 06/15/2011 - 12:50 pm.

    This is a very difficult letter for anyone to write, and I find it very well done. There are obviously more ways to say everyone knows it will be hard on the employees and those serviced and none will be adequate. On balance the notice is complete, provides the detailed information necessary for the employees necessary for their response, and does it all within a reasonable limit of space. Good job in a tough environment!

  3. Submitted by John Olson on 06/15/2011 - 01:16 pm.

    I’m in agreement with Pat and Robert.

    State employees that may have been looking for editorializing in the notice need to stop and think about the consequences it would have had in the Court of Public Opinion.

    There certainly are ambiguities in the letter, but when one is faced with dealing with multiple bargaining units with different provisions for leave, sick time, etc. all at once, it is hard to see how the letter could have been any different.

  4. Submitted by Richard Pecar on 06/15/2011 - 01:45 pm.

    Well now…”thoughtful and nuanced”? Mr. Guntzel! You have go to be kidding me, right? Usually, when I decide to comment on any one or more of the many weird stories that float by each day, I feel like one foot is nailed to the floor. The reason being it’s all too usual for reporters to have no idea what they are writing about, or worse, the reporter thinks they know what they are writing about. In this story, Mr. Guntzel you want both of my feet nailed to the floor!

    Let me put it this way: Nice letter! Not too much punctuation, not too many sentences either. There are lot’s of words that don’t really say all that much, but each paragraph does have a lead sentence, and the text following it is supportive. It’s like one might expect from government. And by the way, there has never been any layoff letter well-received by the recipient, there never will be…except, an early discharge notice to drafted military personnel.

    Oh yeah, here’s a subtle comment/question:

    How can it be, that our society, with all the glorious resumes awarded to all the people from all those great learning institutions we boast about — right here in the land of the fee and home of the brave — how can it be, we are held hostage to a banking cartel that dictates the number of Federal Reserve Notes we are allowed to play capitalism with? How can it be, that there is no money in this land of milk and honey? Where did it go?

  5. Submitted by MaryAnn Dean on 06/15/2011 - 02:55 pm.

    From my perspective, the letter was both respectful and provided needed information.

    As a former manager for a Fortune 500 company, I see nothing wrong – actually I felt it was well done.

    Wallowing in pity helps no one. If politicians can’t behave for the benefit of the people who elected them, it is not the job of the State to add to the problem. Neutrality is best.

  6. Submitted by Arnie Hillmann on 06/15/2011 - 03:24 pm.

    The letter is clearly written by attorneys who have a responsibility to cover all bases and provisions of collective bargaining agreements. I see nothing that appears to be impersonal. It is a distasteful document job well done. These are the hard cold facts of today’s world and people better get accustomed to them because there are many more coming down the road before the economics of this great nation are fixed.

    MaryAnn Dean says it best above: WALLOWING IN SELF PITY HELPS NO ONE.

  7. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 06/15/2011 - 03:25 pm.

    “How can it be, that there is no money in this land of milk and honey? Where did it go?”


    In case that was a serious question, it was a transfer of wealth from the other 300-plus million of us to the top 400 richest Americans, courtesy of the Bush tax cuts; the exportation of jobs to low-wage third world countries; the crooked Wall Street bankers who manipulated the mortgage market, foreclosed on tens of thousands of homes and “had to” be rescued although their victims were not; and the endless multiple wars draining the economy of kazillions of dollars.

  8. Submitted by Jim Spensley on 06/15/2011 - 03:55 pm.

    Who was expecting an personalized letter? If the impasse isn’t over soon, who would be left to draft or send a letter? I thought the lay-off Memo “no discredit” and “everyone” was far more polite than any a down-sizing corporation would issue.

    I don’t know who complained, or if anyone actually did, but it is a tough situation and no State employee should be in limbo.

    Can’t the legislators see that making 10,000 people unemplyed for a week is much the same as losing 200 full-time jobs? How’ll that get the economy primed — no bread-winners, no loafs sold, no bakers pai … no grain bought, no grain grown — etc.

  9. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 06/15/2011 - 04:23 pm.

    @Richard: I have no nails to pound into your feet, I promise! And thanks to all for the comments. Damn civil and interesting too. I want to be totally clear that I’m not looking for a mono-response, just a civil response.

  10. Submitted by Richard Pecar on 06/15/2011 - 06:45 pm.

    Mr. Guntzel, did you just free me to run with both feet? And yes, Bernice, the “milk and honey” comment is satirical.

    If I can move on both feet, let me it ask again — a little differently this time — what is with all the Americans who won’t allow questioning or criticism of our floundering monetary system? Why can’t that be the blame of our current economic woes? It is you know. Nonetheless, it appears as we are destined to ride this dead horse all the way to its horrid end point: We will let the poor, the aged and infirm wander alone and uncared for, perhaps laying about in the streets, and we let our public safety become unsafe, and let our environment become compromised, just so we don’t have debt and so there is a balanced budget. Because that’s good for business growth, and business grow is equivalent to Nirvana. Namaste.

    The real story we should be talking about isn’t the layoff letter, the story is, why was there a letter in the first place?

    Look at it this way, Minnesota has a gross product near that of Norway (that’s from memory, but it’s close). But the rules of our belief system holds that only the federal government can create money willy/nilly (almost), but a state can’t…only the national government creates coin of its realm. So, why is that? The answer is in the USA our Constitution says so; but congress decided to abrogate its exclusive right create money to a cartel of private bankers, the Federal Reserve, one-hundred years ago.

    The problem is the FED has failed at both its statutory mandates: 1) preventing inflation; and 2) maintaining close to full employment (95% +/-). These two things are all the FED is supposed to do. Oh yeah, they are also supposed to provide an adequate money supply. They failed at that too.

    So why are we having a discussion about the sensitivity, or lack of it, in a layoff letter to government workers? In my opinion, the letter never should have been mailed…end of story. Amd we should be discussing why xome of us are tethered to such a bad idea we actually believe the letter and the government shut-down is necessary in order to prove a point.

    Then there is the question of how this once great nation became captivated by such a broken thing as a private monetary system that runs out of money is beyond me. First there isn’t enough money, then there’s inflation, then high unemployment, then the FED and its bankers do little-to-nothing about mass foreclosures, then the FED opens a “window” to Wall Street brokers and others in order to hand over low-to-no interest money…and we all stand around with our faces hanging out as our leaders push the notion they are helpless, and we all must adhere to that failed system. A “balanced budget” you know…gotta have it. The Constitution says so.

    Hey fellas, the system isn’t holy! And, anyway, how can be out of money? It’s merely paper and ink, or computer journal entries. How can we be out it? A few years ago, Governor Ventura was handing it back because the state government had too much of the stuff.

    Yeah, the real story isn’t about the layoff letter, or its sensitivity, or lack of it, the real story is about American political leaders allowing themselves to become fooled into believing money is more important than our citizenry. And, it nauseates me to hear these so-called “leaders” say in effect, it’s okay to leave the poor, the infirm, the aged, on the roadside because its more important to protect the integrity of a monetary system operated usuries and investors. A system that no one can prove worthy, and to believe in that lie so powerfully in spite of the contradictions, and then to say to the masses in so many words that chaos is okay because it’s cheaper than order.

    The real story is our susceptibility to bad ideas.

  11. Submitted by dan buechler on 06/15/2011 - 07:10 pm.

    Mr. Jeff, here’s an idea for a data driven investigative report. Survey all the districts that had new legislators in 2010. Remember the districts not the legislators. This class of 2010 came from Roseau, Crookston, Hancock, Deer River, Mora, Ghent, Alexandria, Little falls, Willmar, Crown, Shafer, Luverne, Belle Plain, Albert Lea, Bryon. If these rural legislators want to keep their jobs they need to shift to some middle ground or they will be one termers. Or better yet see how close some of these races where and where money that was spent on their campaigns came from. I bet an awful lot of that money came from outside the state and from the SW burbs. They may not be true representatives wo middle ground.

  12. Submitted by dan buechler on 06/15/2011 - 08:10 pm.

    Here I will make it even easier than my prior post. Crookston (home to a UM facility), Hancock(close to Morris basically is Morris). Albert Lea, Alexandria, Little Falls, Shafer, Luverne all homes to a state park. Call the local newspaper editor there.

  13. Submitted by dan buechler on 06/15/2011 - 08:15 pm.

    Also Ghent is basically Marshall mn home to SW state university and a state park.

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