The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

April 3, 2009
Your April furlough update

We've fielded quite a few e-mails this week asking for the latest news on the furlough front. Here's where things stand:

If your union doesn't have a current contract that has been passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, you're on his two-day-per-month furlough plan.

Right now that means if you work full time (except CHP officers and a few other exempted groups) plan on an April paycheck that will reflect 16 hours of unpaid time off, just like your March paycheck.

That includes SEIU Local 1000 workers. Although the rank-and-file recently ratified a deal that includes one furlough day per month instead of the governor's mandated two, the bill that funds the contract still needs approval by the Legislature and the governor. The bill, AB 964, was heard in committee for the first time this week.

No one knows how long it will take for lawmakers to get the measure to Schwarzenegger, but he would need to sign it by the middle of the month to give the Controller's Office time reset the payroll system for SEIU-covered workers. Since lawmakers are off next week, it's hard to imagine the legislation getting to Schwarzenegger's desk in time to accommodate the controller.

Once the governor signs AB 964, the SEIU contract's furlough terms would go back to February. If you're covered by the SEIU contract and racked up, say, six furlough days (two each for February, March and April), you could work three months (May, June and July) with no furlough days and receive full pay. After that, you would start taking off one unpaid day each month, DPA tells us.

But remember: Furlough days off are scheduled just like vacation days; it's up to you and your manager/supervisor to figure out a mutually agreeable time for you to be off work.

If you're not covered by the SEIU contract, you're taking two furlough days off this month, period. Even if your union works out an SEIU-type deal tomorrow, it's highly unlikely that a contract could be negotiated, ratified by members, passed by the Legislature and get to the governor's desk this month.

And now that the courts have affirmed the governor's power to mandate furloughs, several unions, including CAPS and CASE report that the administration hasn't offered a monthly one-day furlough during recent contract talks.

Managers? Supervisors? You're on your own. The Association of California State Supervisors hasn't had any luck getting furlough days cut down for exempt employees.

What if you work for constitutional officers or the BOE? Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette has ruled that you're subject to the governor's furlough.

That means that you have to make up any furlough days missed in February and March. The administration's position is that constitutional officers and the BOE should now be furloughing their employees. "But are (the constitutionals) furloughing?" DPA's Lynelle Jolley asked rhetorically during a Thursday telephone conversation with The State Worker. "We don't know."

We'll ask around and report what we find out.

Some state workers won't be taking time off for the furlough because their jobs don't allow it. In such instances, the unused hours away from work can be banked. You'll still see your pay trimmed as though you took the time off because the state calculates the hours off as they accrue each month, not when they're used.

Be sure to check DPA's furlough Q&A Web site for more information.

Legal action: That policy led CCPOA to file a lawsuit contending that their members are taking the pay hit but will never get their time off. Several unions are trying to stop the furloughs. SEIU, PECG, CAPS and CASE all have litigation in the courts. CASE is next up with a hearing set for April 15 in San Francisco Superior Court. Some unions have also filed furlough grievances with PERB.

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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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