The word spread like wildfire in the Schuylkill County Courthouse hours before employees of the AFSCME union were to vote on a proposal submitted to them by the county commissioners to approve a plan to reduce their work week from 35 to 30 hours, which would mean a 14 percent pay cut, that the commissioners were planning to increase the pay of three management personnel at their work session to be held in the morning at the courthouse in Pottsville.

And the results were disasterous to the proposal. The union employees voted 68 in favor of layoffs and only 10 voted in favor of the propsosed shorter work week. This morning the employees in the two court related unions were scheduled to vote on the same proposal.

A union representative Guy Wiederhold appeared at the work session, which began at 10 a.m., and warned the commissioners their action was not condusive to their proposal. He told them they were asking the workers to do more for less while rewarding management personnel a higher salary for taking on more responsibility. The voting was scheduled for high noon during the employees lunch hour.

The three commissioners tried to justify their proposed action by telling Wiederhold they were combining jobs which would save the county more than $50,000 a year but it was a hard sell. Weiderhold met with the workers behind closed doors before they voted.

The commissioners are seeking means to cut costs to balance the 2010 budget as preliminary estimates shows a $3.5 million deficit.