The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 10, 2008
Blog back: furloughs, federal workers and a foreign leader

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to furlough workers and cut their holidays and a few other benefits was the hot topic this week. Readers posted more than 400 comments to news stories about the proposal and related State Worker blog items.

Oct. 29 Order in the court: Arguments heard in employee pay lawsuit

What about the more than 10,000 state workers who were laid off on July 31? Where do we stand with regard to this lawsuit?

Gilb v. Chiang doesn't address whether the governor can lay off part-timers or retired annuitants. That part of the executive order, while unpopular in many quarters, has not been contested.

Nov. 6 Schwarzenegger wants furloughs, fewer holidays for state workers

Although there are many good people works (sic) for state there are also some "dead weight" workers as well...even Hugo Sanchez would not hire them for his government. I think Governor's decision is absolutely appropriate.

We think you mean Hugo Chavez, the controversial Venezuelan president and ardent critic of the United States.

State workers should be put on notice - not many people feel sorry for you. You took a job with the state, the state is a business, therefore if that business is in trouble, so is your job and all the perks.

We agree that the public isn't widely sympathetic to state workers, however the government is not a business.

It doesn't operate for profit (or to break even, apparently) and must conduct its affairs openly. It has a monopoly, but it's supposed to entertain dissenting opinions and treat people equally. It is above market forces -- government will never close, no matter how lousy the economy or how poorly it conducts it's affairs.

Government also has power that private business does not, including taxing authority and the ability to throw rule breakers in jail.

Someone told me that Federal workers get a "cost of living" increase every year. If this is true, why doesn't CA do it?

The federal government can operate with a debt ($10 trillion right now and growing). California must operate with a balanced budget.

Nov. 6 Schwarzenegger pens letter to state workers

So why ... eliminate two Holidays to save money? The workers are paid either way and the building is lit up so the net effect is that it costs more to take away the Holidays. The logic of one cancels out the logic of the other
This argument was raised in comments across several news stories and blog posts about the governor's proposal. It makes an assumption that the state's daily operating costs outweigh the value of the work produced by state employees.

Ask yourself: If it costs the state more money to take away Lincoln's Birthday and Columbus Day, would the state save more money by giving employees two more holidays?

Nov. 7 State workers rip Schwarzenegger's job furlough plan

You know, this reporter, Jon Ortiz, is really misrepresenting the reality of this issue. He has over-melodramatized the conflict. The unions and the Governor have been working together for weeks before this announcement came out. There are many folks who understand and sympathize with his plan. This is a pretty bad piece of journalism.

A union representative who did not want to be named divulging details of labor talks, said that DPA officials informed labor leaders of the governor's proposals shortly after the Nov. 4 election.

We have yet to hear from any union representatives at any level who support the proposals.

State workers don't march in lockstep, so we agree that "many folks" in the state workforce aren't hostile to the plan, but they're probably in the minority. Certainly no one we spoke with accepted what Schwarzenegger wants to do. But, as the next comment proves, the state workforce isn't monolithic ...

As a state employee, let me say something that will blow your minds: I want a furlough. Looking back, if my present job were offered to me at 95% of the pay but with 12 extra days off per year, I'd gladly take it......

We would love to hear from state workers willing to talk on the record who share this point of view. Call us at (916) 321-1043 if you want to chip in your comments.

Hey Jon, there's no hyphen in Arnold's last name.

True enough, oh sharp-eyed reader. We'll blame the rogue hyphenation on difficulties moving the copy from The Bee's software for print publication (where the Governor's lengthy last name often gets hyphenated to fit the newspaper's column width) to the software we use for online publishing.

Besides, we got it right seven out of eight times!

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

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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