The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 13, 2009
Blog back: Furloughs, fire chief and frustration

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

Feb. 9 Psychiatric technicians union agrees to furlough specifics

ProudCalifornian, there have been no details released. Questions to DPA, SCO, and the union remain unanswered. For answers, my agency has been referred to DPA's PML 2009-007 (http://www.dpa.ca.gov/personnel-policies/pmls/2009/html/2009007.htm) which "clearly" states:

"The Furlough Program begins with the February 2009 pay period and goes through the June 2010 pay period. During that time, all State employees will have two unpaid days off each month. This program is subject to change through court or legislative action and through bargaining."

To me it is as clear as mud.

Comments that include informative links to legitimate sources always add value to the blog. Thanks.

Feb. 10 Nagging questions about the furlough

How will the State recruit professionals? I once sat in at the very top level of a management meeting at one taxing agency about ten years ago and they were sadly joking that the only thing they had as a lure for IT folks was free parking. They were serious and it was part of the recruitment brochures. I doubt things have improved, expecially with ongoing furloughs and layoffs.
I believe that the Governor has just given the "on the fence" state workers his version of a golden handshake. Retire and you will not have to go through this pay reduction ... It's time to wake up! The power is on the Govenor's side and will remain there for at least 2 more years.

Events in recent weeks have certainly hurt the state's image as an employer. Not that it was all that great before. Watch the terms of the next budget / contract. Concessions could push some state workers out the retirement door who would have stayed a few more years in better times.

If the furlough is allowed by the courts as an allowable excercise of executive power, what element of a contract can the Governor NOT change by decree? How about furlough 5 days a month? Ten days? Can he cut off health benefits? Vacation or sick time?

Great questions that inspired our last State Worker column.

Feb. 10 Layoff letters to go out: What are people saying where you work?

This post quickly became a forum to debate who is the biggest sinner in the state's financial fiasco:

Arnold is the problem ... California and the entire country is facing the worst economic crisis since the great depression. Rather than flex muscle, sue, fire, threaten and throw temper tantums, we need a real LEADER. Dire times have always brought forth our greatest LEADERS. Leader face problems with real solutions. Cowards point the finger and blame others. Arnold is no leader.
Paranoid fantasy scenarios aside, it's just not Arnold's fault. His best efforts to lead have been methodically and systematically thwarted by an intractable, obstructionist legislature too wrapped up in its own self-importance to notice that they have not been doing their job for the last three years. That swamp downtown is in dire need of a good draining..

Many blog users expressed anger and frustration:

Johnny Paycheck had it right.

A reference, of course, to the classic workers' anthem, "Take This Job and Shove It."

So morale continues to plummet, and its fair to say that we all feel like fish swimming in a tank, hoping to avoid being served up with a side of chips.

We always appreciate users who can find new ways to explain old things.

Feb. 11 Furlough Friday protester for Governor?

Comments to Rod Brietmaier's furlough protest were mixed. Some hailed him:

I won't be joining the "no spending on furlough-Fridays" movement... In fact, I'll be using my furlough days going to Reno and spending my California money helping the Nevada economy.
I'll be joining the "no spending on furlough-Fridays" movement.
I agree with this. I hope this hurts the small business, who turn around and complain to the gov. Kind of like a fly wheel...eventually so many people will be up in arms the furloughs will be eliminated.

One commenter criticized Brietmaier:

Nice picture. What better way to perpetuate the idea that state workers are lazy than by having a photo of a guy sitting on a couch and playing video games. I realize that he has been furloughed and has a right to spend his forced free time as he likes, but what I am talking about here is perception. The only people who are going to sympathize with furloughed state workers are other state workers ...

Feb. 11 Budget includes furloughs, holiday reductions, OT changes

Jon--note all the confusion since the Governor chose to ignore all usual ways of doing State business (like the confusion implementing furloughs)--he doesn't deal in the details required to implement anything--and he chose a slew of methods at odds with laws and contracts--------many federal. Budgets require real numbers for real dollars to be available and spendable (so the Controller can issue warrants).....I can hear his voice, should anyone dare to point this out to him, "Let them eat cake!" and "Long live my Bastille!"

We continue to be amazed at calls and e-mails asking about who is exempt, how furloughs work for employees at 24/7 facilities and the like. Clearly, there's a communication problem somewhere in California's vast, bureaucratic labyrinth.

Let me get this straight, state workers were furloughed because the gubernator declared a state of emergency. When a budget is signed (hopefully tomorrow), we will no longer be in a state of emergency. Doesn't that mean our furloughs are cancelled?

Feb. 12 Governor could move layoff warning deadline

... And Arnold is still going to layoff over 10 thousand of us anyway.

That layoff number seems virtually unattainable, according to LAO analyst Jason Dickerson. He explains why in this post by San Diego Union-Tribune blogger Chris Reed.

Feb. 12 Farewell to the chief

Why is this on the State Worker site? Look, not to knock the guy but as a State Worker, I could care less about someone retiring. I have to deal with State Government for a while longer and I would much rather be reading news on this site pertaining to What is going on with State Workers!! Leave the warm and fuzzy crap to State News or something.

Obviously, this blog user doesn't work for CAL FIRE. Beyond that, high-level departures from state service have news value, particularly when the state is facing so many personnel stresses. It's a difficult time to lead.

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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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