4-day work week proposed

Wednesday, July 9th 2008, 7:12 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Some state lawmakers are now pushing for Oklahoma to go to a four-day work week at state agencies to save on fuel costs.

Supporters of flexible scheduling for public employees were trying to very publically make the point that these workers have, in many ways, for many years, been underappreciated and underpaid.

When Thomas Kalayilparampil hits the road each day for work, he's not paying more than anyone else for gas but as one of the state's 34,000 employees, the long-time DHS worker probably has less income than most private sector workers with which to pay for it.

"It's very hard to keep our both ends meet with the salary we are getting," Kalayilparampil said.

State Representative Mike Shelton said, since 2000, state workers have received just two raises. Their buying power's declined by $3,600 while gas prices have increased more than 200 percent. Shelton said they need help.

"A condensed, flexible schedule is the best way to provide some relief, some relief, by allowing them to save money at the pump," Shelton said.

A few state agencies already use flex time but Shelton said not enough, and the governor and other lawmakers need to urge more agency directors to get on board.

"You don't need a law, we just need some directors of these agencies to have the initiative to move in that direction," Shelton said.

Kalayilparampil said going to four ten-hour days would not only cut down on his fuel costs, but would give clients greater range of access to services.

"So it's helpful to the agencies, the workers and the clients that we serve, so I think it's a great idea," Kalayilparampil said.

Not everyone thinks it's a great idea, though some state workers testified that four-day work weeks are not practical for them or their clients, and won't save them any money.