The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 13, 2008
Column extra: Some background on pay cuts, time off and holidays

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, most of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras will give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that don't make the cut:

Info on pay reductions/furloughs
California has reduced state employee pay in the past. We asked DPA to provide a timeline and an explanation of cuts since the Wilson administration:

  • 7-1-91: 5% reduction for managerial employees
  • 10-1-91: 5% reduction for supervisory employees
  • 6-92: 5% reduction for managers and supervisors converted to PLP (explained below)
  • 7-1-92: PLP for rank-and-file
  • 12-31-92: PLP ends for managers
  • 3-31-93: PLP ends for supervisors
  • 12-31-93: PLP ends for rank-and-file
  • 7-1-03: PLP for managers, supervisors, and rank-and-file
  • 7-1-04: PLP ends
PLP, or personal leave program, gives employees an extra day of leave per month in exchange for about 5% of pay (because each day is worth about 5% of pay).

What's the deal with holidays?
Today's editorial in The Bee supports the notion of erasing two of the 13 paid holidays on the state calendar:

Those who object to trimming holidays ought to check with other employers. None we could identify are as generous as the state. Federal workers receive just 10 paid holidays a year. The state of Nevada gives its employees 11. Sacramento County workers get 12.

We've heard different versions of how the state arrived at 13 holidays. Literally dozens of state workers have told us in e-mails and online posts that the holiday calendar grew over the years because the state offered the paid time off instead of pay raises.

We couldn't confirm that. In fact, DPA's Lynelle Jolley said this in an e-mail:

The number of holidays has expanded over the years through collective bargaining. It's unrelated to the issue of trading time off for pay increases.

What no one disputes, however, is that the holiday schedule came through bargaining.

When unions have taken wage and benefits issues to the Legislature, the governor has blasted the tactic as an end-run on good faith negotiations. Now he has adopted that tactic.

Questions asked and unanswered
We usually start our reporting by asking questions and then seeking answers. Some that we had this time:

Are the unions so unyielding that reductions can't be worked out through bargaining? Or is there history (prior concessions, meager raises in past contracts, etc.) that makes union concessions extremely difficult?

Is the state cash crisis so severe and the prospects for concluding labor talks soon so remote that pushing a controversial measure through the Legislature makes sense?

What about the appearance of hypocrisy?

What do the governor's proposals do to current labor talks?

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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