Four day work-week considered for state workers

Wednesday, June 18th 2008, 7:54 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS9

As the price at the pump keeps hitting pockets of Americans, government leaders are calling for a four day work-week. Several states have already implemented a similar plan, and those fighting for the change in Oklahoma said any relief would help.

Melody Turpin lives in Mustang, but works in Oklahoma City. The drive back and forth has become very expensive.

"It is making it very difficult for myself and for other employees because as the gas goes up, it cuts into your disposable income," Turpin said.

Turpin carpools to help cut down on the cost of gas, but said it's not enough.

"The costs are really just killing us. We need some help," Turpin said. "If we can somehow make it where we didn't have to drive in five days a week...that would help enormous.

State Representative Mike Shelton (D-Oklahoma City) along with the Oklahoma Public Employees Association were pushing for the four day work-week. Under the plan, state employees would work 10 hour days to help save on the cost of gas.

"It's not anything that's new to private industry or even public industry," Shelton said. "It just takes some creative thinking making sure that state agencies, the departments are covered."

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is considering the same plan for his state.

"To go from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, where most of our state workforce operates, it's about $30 everyday, so it's about a third of the family budget," Richardson said.

Shelton wants Gov. Brad Henry to get behind the idea, but the Oklahoma governor's office said state agencies here already have the authority to implement flex time.

"I think it is up to the leaders of this state to really encourage it and to provide leadership when it comes to saving the best employees, the best citizens, as much money as they can," Shelton said.

In opposition, one state worker said her work week would actually be made harder if the changes were to take place.