Days after he persuaded a state senator to withdraw legislation ordering him to lay off 81 workers at the state Department of Transportation on June 1, Transportation Secretary Tony Tata announced Tuesday that he will lay off 70 workers and eliminate 11 recently vacated jobs.
DOT fell short of requirements in the 2014 budget to start using private contractors for most of the work previously done by employees involved in planning and acquiring land and environmental permits for road and bridge construction, and to reduce its workforce.
Sen. Bill Rabon, a Brunswick County Republican, had filed Senate Bill 539 to force the layoffs in areas where DOT did not meet the outsourcing targets. Rabon’s bill stipulated that 81 people should lose their jobs. He and other legislators expressed displeasure with DOT’s performance.
“This is a gentle nudge that says we mean business,” Rabon said when he persuaded a Senate committee to endorse the bill last week. “When we pass the law, we expect the department to comply with that law in a timely fashion."
Tata apparently persuaded Rabon to allow some vacant positions to be included in the total.
The budget law ordered DOT this year to outsource 70 percent of all work done in the pre-construction and technical services units, 50 percent of roadway design work, and 65 percent of project development and environmental analysis work. The right-of-way unit was directed to increase its outsourcing by 5 percent.
DOT provided few details of employees who will lose their jobs on June 1. Eight of the 81 eliminated positions are in right-of-way and the rest were in technical services, an umbrella group that includes roadway design and project development and environmental analysis.
“We value the hard work and dedication of all of our employees and remain committed to continue delivering the highest level of service to the citizens of North Carolina,” Tata said in a news release. “We have been actively engaged with the General Assembly for months and working hard within NCDOT to find the right formula to help meet the outsourcing requirements while minimizing the overall impact to employees and services.”