The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 2, 2008
More details about possible state worker layoffs

081202 DPA five pillars.gifAs we reported earlier, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday said that the state's financial crisis is so severe that he is "almost forced" into laying off state workers.

We had some questions, so we contacted the Department of Personnel Administration spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley. She responded via e-mail:

Does the governor have the authority to lay off workers?

Yes, a Governor has this right.

I've seen the layoff language on the DPA Web site that requires a 30-day notice and that most union contracts require 60 days. Since most bargaining units don't have contracts right now, does the 60-day notice apply at all, or is 30 days all that is required?

We're still required to notify affected unions as well as employees, and to negotiate over a layoff's impact. Those notice periods can overlap; they're not sequential.

Some state workers who have e-mailed me insist that the notice period is more like 6 months.

The longer notice period you've heard about refers to the "surplus" notice employees get. That's a different type of notice that lets employees know that a layoff is coming and they might be affected.

In general, more employees receive surplus notices than actual layoff notices. The purpose of a surplus notice is to allow time for potentially affected employees to find a more secure job. (Surplus employees get hiring preference when departments fill open state jobs.)

(The State Worker notes that you can read about "surplus" and how the process works by clicking here.)

Has the state laid off workers before due to budget concerns?

The last time the State faced a major layoff threat was 2003. The 2003-04 budget eliminated 16,000 positions, many of which were unfilled in anticipation of this possibility, and cut $1.1 billion ($585 million of it was General Fund) from personnel. Leading up to adoption of that budget, the State issued thousands of surplus notices, which allowed most affected employees to move into jobs with more secure funding.


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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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