The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 14, 2009
First low blow in state worker furlough battle?
The allegation made by the Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, was tantalizing, to say the least, even if it was nowhere in its own court filings.

Had Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger deliberately flouted his own Dec. 19 executive order by hiring expensive private sector lawyers to defend lawsuits that state worker unions launched to kill his administration's furlough and pay cut plan?

An SEIU representative suggested that the hiring of David Tyra and two peers from the pricey Sacramento law firm of Kronick, Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard did exactly that.

The hire, the union alleged, breached this section of the Governator's executive order:

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that effective January 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010, all State agencies and departments under my direct executive authority, regardless of funding source, are prohibited from entering into any new personal services or consulting contracts to perform work as a result of the furloughs, layoffs or other position reduction measures implemented as a result of this Order. 

The unions filed lawsuits on Dec. 22 and thought they had the administration cold;  who can hire a top gun like Tyra between Christmas and New Year's when the state is closed.

Wrong, totally wrong, says Lynelle Jolley of the Department of Personnel Administration.

The state contract with Kronick, Moskovitz was signed Nov. 1, 2008, she said. 

Because there was much talk during the fall about the bad budget, union contracts and compensation issues, the department's legal unit anticipated some legal nastiness.

The unit put the contract in place in advance in case it needed extra firepower, Jolley 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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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