Wyoming Public Employees Association

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Wyoming Livestock Board Criminal Investigators Axed by Legislators in Apparent Retaliation for Reporting Unlawful Conduct of Management.


>>>From the October 2017 issue of The Reporter.

A few years ago, the WPEA was made aware of numerous employment related violations reported by several employees of the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLB). Several of these employees experienced retaliation for their reporting of unlawful and unethical behavior exhibited by upper management at the WLB.

There was very little evidence that any of the whistle blowing employees were granted any due process and several employees were demoted with salary reductions. All of the employees who reported any violations and misconduct made by the then Director of the WLB asked for WPEA's assistance in bringing the issues to the attention of the Governor and the Livestock Board which is made up of seven Livestock Producers. After the employees reported these violations, an investigation was completed resulting in the resignation of the Director.

The Livestock Board declined to correct any of the injustices that occurred to some of the WLB employees who have continued their fight to resolve the issues.

State nixes 3 livestock officer jobs a Wyoming Tribune Eagle report; an op-ed by Paige Smith, Livestock officer losses bad news for Wyoming; and an editorial by Marcia Vanlandingham, Public should know about state jobs being axed are all referencing a situation in state government that is very troubling to the Wyoming Public Employees Association (WPEA).

Through the budget bill during the 2017 legislative session, legislators eliminated three Criminal investigators from the WLB claiming it was for budget purposes, to be effective December 31, 2017.

Since the end of the session, the WPEA has heard from their members and concerned citizens that the elimination of the three positions was due to a grudge held by a handful of Legislators and Livestock producers. WPEA's biggest concern is how this is being handled and how these long term state employees are being treated.

The legislation placed in the budget bill funded the positions through December 31, 2017, and this constituted a reduction in force at that time. However, more recently, the Livestock Board voted to eliminate these positions effective August 31, 2017, ostensibly because of budgetary shortfalls to the WLB Division of Law Enforcement 2017/2018 biennial budget.

Why the abrupt and harsh treatment to long term employees? Is this being done as an act of fulfilling a grudge or retaliation? Why was the elimination of three positions hidden in the budget bill? Why didn't the current Director of the WLB fight to keep the positions?

WPEA Director, Betty Jo Beardsley reported to WLB Director and Human Resources that all three employees would be eligible for full retirement in the year 2018. WPEA offered to assist the three employees and the agency to bring them to full retirement or find other employment. If this is truly a reduction in force for budget reasons, then why didn't the State or the Legislature research a retirement option with benefits or a departure package to protect benefits?

WPEA Director Beardsley said, "I have seen many vacant state positions eliminated from an agency, but I've never seen currently employed individuals lose their jobs by a legislator's actions hidden within a budget bill."

Do all long term, loyal state employees need to be concerned about their future employment under these trying economic times and dubious legislative actions?

Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee Meets to Discuss Pensions and Dept. of Corrections Salaries

Legislative UPDATE >>>> October 27, 2017 Casper, Wyoming

Legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee (JAC) is reviewing the state government's fiscal years 2018-2022 revenue forecast. This a look forward to what the State of Wyoming might have in terms of available funding in the upcoming legislative session.

The major report of theses estimates of state income is contained in the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group Report, commonly known simply by it's friendly acronym, the CREG Report. The good news is that the overall revenue is up slightly and looks to continue with modest growth.

Your WPEA staff is attending this meeting as these estimates provide what the state has to work with for your wages and benefits including retirement. The Wyoming Retirement System's director and lead staff will testify to give a picture of the system's financial health. JAC meetings are one of the first places where hear of plans to changes in your retirement and other benefits, including your compensation. While we don't expect opportunities for pay increases with the very slight improvement in state revenue projections, there will be a presentation on proposals for limited pay increases for the Department of Corrections.

Retirement and benefits, however, are sometimes seen as a source of revenue by some members of this committee. The committee is examining ways to change investments methods for state pensions, and we will be listening closely for how this could affect current and future retirees. WPEA has one endorsed member of this committee attending the meeting today. Representative Andy Schwartz (D) of Teton County. Representative Steve Harshman (R), Natrona County, Speaker of the House, is attending as an ex-officio member is also endorsed by WPEA. These are the legislators that we would expect to most have your back in the committee, but we are keeping an eye on the whole committee and presentations from departments and agencies. WPEA is happy to talk with all of the representatives and senators to urge them to support state and district employees.

The meeting is ongoing as I write this, but once we have to time to analyze and sort through what was said, and of course, double-check our notes, we will get back to you with what we learned. It is scheduled to be a nine hour meeting and there will be a lot to sort through. Of course, there is little this committee can actually change itself, but because the 2018 Budget Session will convene February 12, this sets the starting point for negotiations in the upcoming session. Because it will be a Budget Session, the JAC does have an out-sized role in setting the agenda.

Equality State Policy Center - The People's Review
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Connecting Wyoming's People to their Government

The Equality State Policy Center (ESPC) works with WPEA to track legislative issues important to members of our association.

The People's Review is a downloadable guide to the 2017 legislative session and includes the voting records for members of the Wyoming Legislature. You can click on the People's Review graphic above to take you to ESPC's Accountability Project site and download a complete copy for yourself

Wyoming Coalition for a Healthy Retirement System
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WCHRS to protect the security and dignity of Wyoming's public workers

The Wyoming Coalition for a Healthy Retirement System believes that all workers deserve to retire with dignity. We work to preserve and protect the financial security of all retirees in the Wyoming Retirement System (WRS). Public employees in Wyoming put aside a piece of every paycheck to fund the WRS. WPEA has helped to produce a short, two-minute, video on the Wyoming Retirement System. Click on the photo to watch to watch the video.