The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 1, 2009
Judge rules (again) that State Fund furloughs are illegal

A San Francisco Superior Court judge has upheld her tentative ruling that furloughing state workers at State Compensation Insurance Fund is illegal.

Judge Charlotte Woolard's decision from the bench today confirms that state insurance code "exempts State Compensation Insurance Fund employees from the furlough."

The ruling extends beyond the 6,000 State Fund workers covered by SEIU because Woolard also ruled in favor of State Fund President Jan Frank, who had filed a cross-complaint seeking to exempt all of State Fund's 7,900 employees from furlough.

"Judge Woolard found that furloughing staff is the same as staff cutbacks," Local 1000 senior attorney Felix De La Torre told The State Worker this afternoon. State insurance code prohibits State Fund employees from staff cutbacks.

It's not clear yet when the order will be implemented. Woolard has ordered another hearing on Sept. 10 to hear arguments about whether State Fund employees should remain on a furlough schedule while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appeals her ruling.

Local 1000's court win is the second furlough loss for Schwarzenegger. In April, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Peter Busch ruled that the state's insurance code prohibited legal staff at State Fund from being furloughed. On July 9, Busch formally issued the written decision, which allowed the State Controller's Office to issue back pay for wages lost to furlough.

Local 1000 wasn't part of the earlier lawsuit by California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment. In fact, Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker blasted the legal professionals union for pursuing the matter.

However, Local 1000 changed course and filed its own lawsuit in June.

De La Torre hopes that this case will move more swiftly than the first one. The Sept. 10 hearing includes a review and signing of the final order, which could speed up moving State Fund employees to a regular schedule, assuming the judge agrees that keeping employees on furlough during the appeal process would create "irreparable harm."

"We want to avoid unnecessary delay," De La Torre said.

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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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