|As I know you are aware, next Friday will be the first of ten days over the next two years that most state offices will be closed and state workers will be on mandatory unpaid furlough.
Like all other agencies our offices and branches will be closed. Some of our 24/7 operations, like the State Hospital, will operate as normal. Also, the Public Health Division's H1N1 response center will be open at a limited but adequate capacity as the vaccines continue to come into Oregon and are distributed across the state. If you are not sure of whether your position might be exempt from the closure date, please check with your supervisor.
I know that this will be an inconvenience and even a hardship for clients. We have distributed communications materials through division leadership that includes building signs and flyers so that you can start notifying people right away. Also included is script for voicemail messages and email "auto-reply" messages. The tone we set during these closures is important for several reasons. The toolkit can be found here: www.dhs.state.or.us/admin/comm/furlough/
Many of our clients and stakeholders have suffered severe hardship as a result of the recession. The unpaid furloughs send a powerful message to them: "State employees will do their share to stretch the state's budget and maintain the critical public services they provide." In other words, we are all in this together.
State employees take a lot of heat -- they are under constant scrutiny and criticism and we all too infrequently see a news headline about the great job so many of us are doing.
But I know -- we all know -- which is why the furloughs can seem like a double whammy. Not only can it feel as if we are letting our clients down, but it will have a financial impact on our families and our family budgets as well.
As I close this message, I'm providing an on-line resource, Finding Help in Tough Times. I invite you to use this information and share it with family members, friends and clients. I've also included the Web site and phone number for our Employee Assistance Program, Cascade Centers, which offers a variety of personal and family services. PEBB-covered state employees and their dependents receive the EAP's services free of charge.
These are difficult times in our state and none of us are sure when the economy is going to get back on track. Oregon has been particularly hard hit and I remain very proud of how our agency has responded to help. Thanks for all you do to help us meet our mission. Your contributions are greatly appreciated.