A state workers' union has fought efforts to cut salaries and benefits during Michigan's budget crisis and has cited $700 million in concessions state workers have made since 2004.

That's the figure used by the United Auto Workers Local 6000, which represents workers in every department in the State of Michigan's government.

But Charlie Owens, state director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, is challenging that number.

Owens believes that the $700 million figure comes from an August 2009 study paid for by unions and done by Charles Ballard, a Michigan State University economics professor.

Owens claims that Ballard's analysis suggests that a decrease in the number of state workers is a "concession" and doesn't factor in early-retirement sweeteners that may have been provided to lure workers to early-out programs.

The idea that a reduction of workers should be considered a "wage concession" is "an absurd assumption that has no place in the real world," Owens wrote.

The study also factors in unpaid furloughs state workers have taken, but Owens counters that it was discovered state workers were working on Saturday on overtime in the same week that they took a furlough day.

In conclusion, Owens wrote, "The state workers' claims of $700 million in concessions ... pales in comparison to the sacrifices made by private sector taxpayers in Michigan that are being asked to foot the bill for their unrealistic benefit and pay levels. They have been shielded and protected from reality for far too long and it is a luxury that taxpayers in this state can no longer afford."

A message left with UAW Local 6000 President Ed Mitchell was not returned. Charles Ballard also didn't return messages seeking comment.

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A 3-percent pay raise for state workers has recently been ratified, because both chambers of the Legislature failed to secure a two-thirds majority vote to stop it from being enacted.

The Michigan Senate recently made three different attempts to shoot down the pay raise. A statement from Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, regarding why the raise should be stopped is available here. Video of Bishop's statement available here.

Sen. Mickey Switalski, D-Roseville, was the only Democrat to oppose the pay raise. His statement is here.

An analysis of the pay raise from Mackinac Center legislative analyst Jack McHugh is here.

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