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Leaner Caltrans to Send Out 200 More Layoff Notices : Employment: New round of ‘streamlining’ reductions will target mostly administrative positions, bringing statewide cuts to more than 1,500.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The California Department of Transportation will send out 200 layoff notices in the next few days, bringing total cuts in their work force to more than 1,500 positions statewide.

The latest reductions, effective by early September, follow the elimination of 1,339 positions through a combination of attrition and layoffs that was completed July 1.

“This is being driven by streamlining the operation to make it more efficient,” said Caltrans spokesman Jim Drago. “Our workload and work force were out of balance.”

Although Caltrans officials said they have not yet finalized a list of the next group to go, they anticipate this round will be directed mostly at administrative positions, especially in Sacramento.

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Caltrans officials, facing Gov. Pete Wilson’s January budget proposal calling for 1,200 cuts out of the department’s 19,000-plus positions, exceeded that target through higher numbers of voluntary separations such as retirements, Drago said. The total savings was about $77 million, including the loss of about 300 positions in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The 200 new layoff notices come as a result of further scrutiny of the staff lists, Drago said.

“We realized that even though we were going to make the numerical target, we still had some areas that were overstaffed.”

Union representatives said the push to do more with fewer people and fewer dollars can only hurt the state’s ability to build public projects.

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“If the public is not feeling this now, they will feel it in the future,” said Pat McConahay, a spokeswoman for the California State Employees Assn., which represents about 5,000 Caltrans workers throughout the state.

“You just cannot dismantle a department of this size, that provides the vast amount of services that it does and expect to maintain the road system in a growing state.”

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Of all the job reductions to date, only 89 full-time, permanent employees--about 78 of whom worked in Los Angeles and Ventura counties--were laid off, Drago said. Most were involved in the design and construction of new projects. Caltrans has eliminated all 635 student assistants, including high school aide positions and college engineering students working their way through school.

About 183 retirees brought in to work on a temporary basis and 26 people out on leave were also cut. The balance came from people who quit, retired, retired on disability or otherwise left of their own accord.

Caltrans officials said the cuts were largely the result of overstaffing and redundancies and will not affect the agency’s projects.


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