The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 5, 2009
Governor's office: Tomorrow is the last 'Furlough Friday'

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office minutes ago called us to break the news that tomorrow will be the last day that government statewide shuts down.

"I can announce that after Friday all state departments and agencies will be taking self-directed furloughs," said Aaron McLear, spokesman for the governor.

Let's be clear: All state workers, including those covered by the SEIU Local 1000 tentative agreement that calls for one furlough day per month from February of this year to June 2010, are going to take two furlough days this month. The second will be self-directed.

After this month, workers represented by SEIU will go to one-day-per-month self-directed furloughs. The governor's office will honor the agreement on the assumption that it will be ratified and passed by the Legislature.

Everyone else, unless their labor representatives work out different terms, will remain on self-directed, two-days-per-month furloughs.

(Clearly, this creates pressure on the other unions to bargain. We can't imagine that, say a hospital psychiatric technician in CAPT, the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, would be thrilled to take two furlough days while a custodian coworker represented by SEIU has a deal for just one.)

We asked McLear about how constitutional officer employees under SEIU contract would make up the furlough days that they've missed. He's checking and will get back to us.

As for those SEIU-covered employees who will have taken four furlough days in two months, McLear would only say that the state will "honor the terms of the SEIU tentative agreement," but he wouldn't get into the specifics of how that will happen.

The state has been dealing with a lot of moving parts in figuring out its furlough policy, particularly how to handle the fact that terms of the tentative SEIU agreement for one furlough day each month covers 95,000 state workers, almost half of the rank-and-file workforce.

We're cranking up a larger story for tomorrow. Watch for it.

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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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