The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 2, 2009
'Furlough Fridays' still on for March

The Schwarzenegger administration is telling departments that they need to plan for "Furlough Fridays" on March 6 and March 20. This is a switch from an earlier plan to move to flexible furlough scheduling in March.

Here's the story behind the policy: A couple of weeks ago, managers heard that they would have flexibility to schedule furlough days beginning this month.

That was because SEIU Local 1000 had reached a tentative agreement that includes one furlough day each month. The administration expected the deal would be quickly ratified by members and OK'd by the Legislature so that its terms took effect in March.

Once that happened, the thinking went, it wouldn't practical to shut down government on the first and third Fridays. The 95,000 employees represented by the union make up a such a large part of the workforce that they can't work on a Friday while everyone else is off or vice versa.

Hence the notice that departments would move to self-directed furloughs in March.

It's now apparent that the SEIU contract ratification and the legislative sign-off will take a bit longer than expected, probably later than March 20. Since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough order calls for two days off without pay per month, and since it doesn't look like SEIU will have its new deal done before the third Friday, departments will continue the furlough schedule used in February.

Once SEIU has its contract in place, the state will start flexible furloughs, the governor's office has told us. Workers under the SEIU contract will get credit for the two extra furlough days that they took.

If you're not covered by SEIU, your union will have to cut its own furlough deal.

In other words, as it stands right now, March furlough schedules will be the same as they were in February. Unless you're already on a self-directed furlough, you're off on Friday and you'll be off again on March 20. That includes workers covered by the tentative agreement struck last month by SEIU Local 1000.

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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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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