La Paz County’s 4-day workweek will stay, after the Board of Supervisors considered a proposal to change it to 5 days in a public meeting.
County employees and members of the public filled the boardroom for Monday’s meeting, which included an agenda item added by Supervisor Duce Minor proposing a return to 5-day opening hours for County offices. Eleven of the County’s departments have been open Mondays through Thursdays since 2010, allowing employees in those departments to work their 40 hours before Fridays each week and allowing walk-in visitors before and after normal working hours.
Minor had made returning to the 5-day workweek a campaign position in 2016, and said he had asked for the item to be placed on the agenda because he saw the need for the change even more after taking office and seeing County operations first-hand.
“I’m sure the reason the room is full today is because people don’t agree with this and I completely understand that and respect your position,” he told the crowd. “My rationale is nothing to do with punishment or taking away as I’ve heard or anything else. I look at my position as one being responsible to the taxpayers and the voters and we’re here to operate a county government, and I believe that our government should operate on a more traditional Monday through Friday schedule.”
He went on to give several reasons he believed the change was necessary, including being available on Fridays to the many entities, agencies, contractors, other governments and taxpayers who wish to do their business with the County on Fridays.
Supervisor Holly Irwin disagreed, citing a savings of over $44,000 per year in miles driven by the Public Works department and over $5,700 a year in electrical costs. She added that some employees now had secured second jobs which they work on Fridays, meaning the change would create hardship.
Supervisor D.L. Wilson then weighed in, saying he had received “significant correspondence” about the issue ahead of Monday’s meeting, which he summarized in list form: “Second job on Fridays, would have to give it up; we’re serving customers from 7 to 8am and from 5 to 6pm; not hearing any complaints, why change?; employees schedule appointments on Fridays and would have to be during work hours if changed; ‘four tens’ is one of the only perks, morale is low and this would make it worse; employees are willing to make less money here because of the schedule; four tens saving the County money because of fuel; some people volunteer on Fridays and people are now depending on that; and adding babysitting costs for a fifth day.”
Wilson said he could see the arguments on both sides of the debate and was concerned that the County both give taxpayers good customer service and treat employees well. “In some cases I’m in favor and in some cases opposed,” he said, before opening up to comments from the floor.
Many employees and members of the public got up to address the issue with the Supervisors, all opposed to the change in varying degrees of fervency.
One department head said she had put the 4-day workweek in writing when hiring some employees, as a way to secure their employment. One employee mentioned the costs of gas and childcare that would be added with such a change, and cited research on the importance of employee morale.
County Recorder Shelly Baker said she believes the best way to serve the taxpayers is to make it easy for them not to have to visit County offices in person at all, citing how her office conducts electronic transactions and the availability of online tools for taxpayers to do business with the County. Taking issue with Minor’s use of the word “traditional” for the proposed schedule, she said a better word would be “archaic”, a barb about which Minor later joked.
One employee struggled to get through an emotional statement to the Supervisors, in which she described how her son had been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer last year and how she drives him back and forth to his doctors in Phoenix with limited resources. “I would have to choose between my job and my son’s health,” she said tearfully. “I would ask you to please reconsider. Thank you.”
Another employee said that in the absence of money for raises, even cost-of-living raises, taking away the 4-day workweek “feels like kicking us when we’re already down”. That sentiment was repeated again by department head Greg Bachmann, who said, “The timing couldn’t have been much worse for this, as you can tell by the turnout in this room.”
One employee in active duty said that if the hours changed he would be forced to use vacation or sick time to serve his country. A member of the public and taxpayer said he did not see the need for the change when so much can be done online and there is a “slot” for deposits at the County Treasurer’s Office after-hours.
Minor responded by saying that he believes changes are sometimes difficult but necessary, but that he understands the concerns expressed in the meeting. He then made a formal motion to change the opening hours to Monday to Friday. When neither Wilson nor Irwin seconded the motion, the change failed and the meeting was over.
The proposal comes in the context of a period of change for La Paz County, which is in the midst of a fiscal crisis identified by Minor during the campaign and only wholly addressed by the County administration after he took office in January. Although the 5-day workweek was one of his campaign subjects, it was not a major focus. Financial concerns now outweigh almost everything else as the County seeks ways to improve its long-term outlook.
Minor campaigned on it, so putting this on the Agenda for discussion and possible action was proper, no matter how anyone feels about it. It’s over, let’s leave it at that.
Now we need make sure those 4/10 employees are actually at work from 7 until 8 AM and 5 to 6 PM. One of the nice things about benefits is having to be at work the required amount of time to earn them. And we’re not talking about one office employee being there at 7 AM and from 5 til 6. We’re talking about the full staff. INCLUDING the elected officials and Department Heads.
Well duce got dusch. Some have there own adenda, why is it so hard to listen to the people. After all the discussion i would of thought duce would of drop his proposal why hit these employess when there down. What if they really were able to quit the county would be in a worse mess
Actions speak a lot about a man’s character. I was surprised he still made the motion too. Well, no on second thought looking at the source I really wasn’t.
I knew the supervisors would cave on this one.
I never felt it was fair that some departments could work a four day work week while others still had to work a five day work week. It should of been uniform from the start back in 2010. I am glad we saved so much money, just wonder where it went Holly! I guess we are using it to pay off Dan. I think he gets his last check this week.That will save the County money. Hmmmmm Gary ZAK 2020
Dang what? Just curious? I am a la paz county employee, I am also a tax payer in La Paz County. I am pretty sure that I make less then you. I work my ass off in a County department that is necessary to make this County function. I work hard and listen to all the hate and discontent and constant bitching from the public. I am tired of you people thinking our job as a county employee is a free ride. We help make this county run, try and focus on other things that can be done
Government should be open 5 days a week. I think Duece did the right thing. Employees can still work 4-10’s. Be up to department heads to work the schedules out within the office. Majority do not work second jobs, majority can take breaks and pay a bill or go to health department etc…..Some can have Mondays off and others Friday or whatever day they choose, just work 40. This would even be better for employees as they can choose between working 4 10’s or 5 8’s.
The days of 5 day work weeks are standard like horses carrying the mail is starndard ( its in the past), some coledges, high schools, and elementary schools have moved to 4 day weeks, some city agencies, other county agencies , as well as some state agencies have moved to a 4 day work week. The 4 day work week is even in many private sector jobs. I am a buisness owner as well as a property owner and voter, I have never had any issue with the counties 4 day work week. If you have ever had dealings with any of the county departments you know they are very helpful, and accommodating where it is possible. I don’t see what Duce was trying to do as anything but a personal issue, not in the interest of me as a buisness owner, tax payer, or voter, but this is just my personal opnion
Quit with the pitty party you made an adult decision to work for the county and get that job so tell me how you deserve a 4 day work week when you county workers already dont do shit?? If u dont feel ur compensation is adequate for your job then guess what find another one..just cause you got a county job doesnt and shouldnt give you any special privelidge of shorter work weeks…if u had so much pride in your job helping make this county function you wouldnt be complaining about ppls complains and grievances
How do they don’t do shit?
I’d like an explanation of that sir.
Why not stagger some on their 4 day work week, some work mon thru thurs some work tues thru fri. Everyone still has their 4 day work week and offices are open for business 5 days a week.
Just because someone’s work schedule is different than your view of “standard”, that doesn’t mean they are not working just as hard as anyone else. Most county offices are running on skeleton staff – through no fault of the employees. Most, if not all, county employees are underpaid, compared to every other county in Arizona – through no fault of the employee. However, it is one of the few jobs in this county that offers full-time employment, a job that can be a career, insurance AND it happens to have a 4/10 work schedule (bonus!).
Angel, to tell someone to “find another job” is condescending and unnecessary. To tell someone they “already dont (sic) do shit” just makes you seem petty and instantly lose credibility for anything you may possibly say that actually has some merit.
Hazard County, many departments don’t have the luxury of enough people to offer multiple schedules.
Would any of you be content to work without any kind of a raise for over 3 years? And if you’re in that same boat, I hope you stand up to your boss taking away any of your benefits.
Duce had every right to make the motion – he campaigned on it and good for him for following through; and I think if it was a different environment, without all the financial crisis issues, he may have gotten a second vote to get it through. I respect him.
If the county gets to the point of being able to pay comparable wages, then maybe employees would be less worried if they have to give up a benefit they are so grateful for.
Great comments Elle.
Wow Angel Covarrubias, you are a very insightful individual, guess you can learn a lot from your GED teachings in prison for .40 cents an hour? Just because someone expresses their feelings, doesn’t always mean they are having a “pitty party”.
Now…. There are only two things that the County offers the employees, but since you are a, “listen to reply, and not a listen to learn” type of individual, I don’t expect you to understand any of this. You have four kids, now if you could have three days off to spend with them, wouldn’t you fight for that? I know I would and my kid is a grown man now. This may come to a surprise to ya, but County employees are human, not machines, therefore, whether you agree with it or not, they have needs. You should understand what it feels like to have needs, considering the amount of times you push weed on your facebook page. I get it, I am sure you can totally relate to the County employee’s since you are probably um…. “Self Employed”, or an “Artist” or maybe even into “horticulture engineer”?
Bottom line: County employ’s sure as hell don’t do what they do to become rich and famous, they do it because they like to be a productive part of our society and to help the public, even if that help is onsite 4 days a week. What have you done to make your neighborhood a nicer place to be lately?
First off, I was hired while the County was already on the 4 day work week. Yes, I made that adult decision. Secondly, how do you have any idea what I do as an employee? I work and I work hard. Come request records as to what my job entails before making uneducated guesses as to what I do. I am not complaining about having to deal with people such as you, I am complaining about the ONE perk we have at this time. I have worked for the County for 4 years, have not received 1 pay raise. We do not work shorter work weeks. We still work 40 hours, if not more due to the fact that we rarely get lunches. I have pride in my job because I would like this County to be great.
I would also like to thank Elle for her comments, wish we employees had more support. This has been a very hard and draining time on all of us. I do not want everyone to have this hate, we need to pull together in this time of need and make things right. No more personal vendettas, no more personal agendas…let’s make this County as great as it should be.
And at Cheryl, that would be a great idea if we had the staff to do this. The office I currently work in is lucky to have two employees there during working hours. We have 3 people that need to be out in the field and the two of us cover the department. There really is no way to stagger time. We never even get a real lunch because we do not have the manpower.
It’s like a tax. Once implemented, very hard to get rid of. It’s the government serving the government. La Paz County is closed on Friday.
There are 120 possible work hours in a 5 day week.
There are 96 possible work hours in a 4 day week.
The County is only open 80% of the time.
Thank you, John. 🙂
Renee, you’re welcome. 🙂
Jim Wooddell, Your math about “possible work hours” is just plain silly. Saying any government office has 24 possible hours per day to work, isn’t logical. Clearly, the county wouldn’t be open more than 40 hours a week (well, actually 44, as they don’t close during lunch. And if they were open 5 days a week, it would be 45, so ONE hour more). How many city/county/state government offices are open more than this? Good luck finding any. Throwing out comments like that doesn’t add anything meaningful to the conversation.