- Associated Press - Thursday, December 24, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services has announced that it will end a longstanding contract to provide assistance to dislocated workers.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Pn6aVN ) reports that the department will end its contract with the Arkansas AFL-CIO, and will provide the services itself as a cost-saving measure. Steve Guntharp, an assistant director at the department, says about $100,000 a year will be saved when the contract ends Jan. 31. The contract has existed since around 1986.

The council’s Review Subcommittee delayed action on the department’s original proposal to extend the contract through June 30 for more than $150,000.

The state Legislative Council signed off on the final extension for over $38,000 in October.

Jay Bassett, the department’s division chief for governor’s dislocated-worker task force, told lawmakers that the department’s shorter contract with the Arkansas AFL-CIO would allow department officials to decide in December “whether to absorb these functions entirely within the Department of Workforce Services or offer them as a contracted service with an outside provider.”

Arkansas AFL-CIO President Alan Hughes said Wednesday that he laid off three employees, who provided services under the state contract, in November. He plans to lay off one more employee at the end of January.

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