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LABOR LEADERS OFFER TO HELP IN PAYCHECK LOSS

State labor leaders are offering to feed and counsel employees of the State Legislature who may lose their paychecks while the state budget remains in limbo.

Starting Wednesday, legislative aides, state legislators and members of Gov. Pataki's staff may not get paid.

The governor said Tuesday, however, that he was dropping any consideration of shutting down state agencies and not paying those workers during a budget impasse.

It's unclear whether the legislative workers will miss next week's paycheck, which pays them for two weeks of work before the April 1 budget deadline. The State Senate already told its employees not to expect a check, while the Assembly has indicated that paychecks will be distributed, sources said.

Meanwhile, AFL-CIO President Edward Cleary has written to all legislative employees offering "to assist you through this difficult period." His aides have contacted non-profit groups to make food and counseling available to those employees.

But lobbyists for non-profit groups say they, too, will be strapped if the budget isn't passed soon. Without a budget, the state will defer payments to United Way agencies and other groups that receive state funds.

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