Denver slashes worker hours to zero amid migrant budget woes, but won’t call it a layoff

The city of Denver is under fire for playing word games as some employee hours are being cut to zero despite denials of a layoff.

Democrat Mayor Mike Johnston announced that there would be a need to “prioritize” as the city struggles to pay for services for migrants who have illegally crossed the border.

“Johnston has said the city is $180 million short on its budget because of the money migrants arriving to Colorado have cost the city,” KUSA-TV reported.

“We have not made any final decisions on cuts other than the ones that we announced already,” Johnston said. “All of our departments, all of our agencies, we’re going to have to find a way to prioritize.”

According to Denver Parks and Recreation Director Jolon Clark also avoided the word ‘layoff’ as he announced the cut in hours that could essentially leave some people jobless.

“The reduction in hours of operation and programs will affect the number of hours worked by many on-call, some to the point where they may not receive any hours,” a statement from Clark read in part. “The final decisions on hours for any individual position have not been made yet.”

Denver Parks and Rec centers began their cuts last week, according to CBS News. The department is reportedly looking to cut $4.3 million to offset the costs triggered by the migrant crisis in changes that will affect “on-call employees” including clerical workers, coaches and lifeguards.

“The number of hours an on-call works can vary from individual to individual and by the season,” Denver Parks and Rec told KUSA in a statement. “Some on-calls can support multiple functions, some may only teach one class all year long.”

“When Johnston announced earlier this month that the city would cut budgets, he warned hourly employees would lose some work. Now we know they could lose all their work,” KUSA reported.

“The initial round of announced budget cuts impacted the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and Parks and Rec Department, cutting an estimated $5 million from their budgets,” the news station added.

Earlier this month, the mayor insisted the cuts were not layoffs.

“These direct impacts on DMV do not involve layoffs, nor do Parks and Rec involve layoffs of our current employees,” Johnston said, according to KUSA. “We will have hourly workers that will have fewer hours. If we reduce your hours and you’re an on-call worker, that’s true. We will have on-call workers that we won’t hire for the summer that we will have hired otherwise. This does reduce new hires that we would’ve brought on.”

To add to the doublespeak by Denver Democrats, employees not officially laid off will still reportedly be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.

To no one’s surprise, when Johnston announced the cuts earlier this month, he blamed it all on Republicans.

“I’m here to talk a little bit about the devastating impact of the failure of Republican leadership in Congress this week to pass comprehensive immigration change and the impact that will have on both city budgets and on services that we can provide for newcomers in the city,” he said at a press conference, adding that “we will start to have to greenlight a set of hard decisions about budget reductions across the city to meet those costs that we know will continue to arrive.”

The city and its Democrat leaders were roasted on social media over the non-layoffs.

Frieda Powers

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