California state worker unions lose ruling on loss of holidays

Published: Friday, May. 17, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4A
Last Modified: Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014 - 11:34 am

A Sacramento appellate court ruled Thursday that state workers covered by expired job contracts were not exempt from the state's elimination of two paid holidays.

A significant percentage of employees were working under expired contracts and negotiating new ones when the state struck Lincoln's Birthday and Columbus Day as paid holidays as of Feb. 20, 2009, to save money in tough fiscal times.

The California Association of Professional Scientists and the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians sued the governor, claiming their members were entitled to the holidays because the law allows employees to continue working under the terms of expired contracts pending new ones.

The Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, later joined the suit on behalf of those among its 95,000 state workers doing their jobs under expired contracts.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy M. Frawley sided with the workers, ruling that the holidays were available under expired but still governing contracts.

By that time, the psychiatric technicians had a new collective bargaining agreement – called a memorandum of understanding in state government parlance – which restored their rights to the two holidays.

But Frawley ordered the state to compensate members of that group, "as provided in the expired MOU," if they had been required to work the two holidays prior to the effective day of the new contract.

On Thursday, a three-justice panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal overturned Frawley and sent the case back to him with directions to reverse his orders in favor of the workers, issue new orders denying their petitions, and grant a request by the state Department of Human Resources that he declare the shortened list of holidays supersedes the expired contracts.

The 18-page published opinion was authored by Acting Presiding Justice Cole Blease, with the concurrences of Associate Justices Harry E. Hull Jr. and Ronald B. Robie.

Call The Bee's Denny Walsh, (916) 321-1189.

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