The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 2, 2009
Blog back special edition: Furloughs

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

As the furlough drama unfolded last week, we noticed that more self-identified state workers comments indicated a reluctant acceptance that a furlough looks likely. While many users are still fighting mad, the rise in the number of moderate comments is a striking change from the "no surrender" tone of many posts on this blog which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger first proposed a monthly one-day furlough in November.

Jan. 29 PECG: We'll appeal the furlough ruling

I would prefer the unions stop filing suits, they are only doing so to prove to their members that they are trying to do something to support them. This will only result in higher unions or "fair share" dues in the very near future, so please don't egg them on. As for me, I am feeling incredibly fortunate that I still have a job and I will find a way to make due with less income as everyone else in the nation who is suffering from furloughs or layoffs or foreclosures, etc.
Hey PECG, brilliant (and SEIU isn't too far behind). Get the furloughs overturned and let the layoffs begin. Don't come crying to the State Worker blog when Arnold welds his meat cleaver after the furloughs are overturned. Someone somewhere once said 91% of something is better than 100% of nothing. BTW, since the unions are doing such an outstanding job of negotiating job security, will I get a 9% reduction in my dues/fair-share payment?
The moral (sic) is so bad already in my office that people are looking forward to the furlough.

This insightful state worker's comment took a wider view of the impact of furloughs:

I assume the deadlines on all state designed projects will now be extended by 10%. The delay will be used as an excuse to spend more money to contract out the work that the state engineers who are not at work can't do.

Other state workers appear to be plotting their next move:

Jan. 29 The State Worker: Today's furlough hearing won't ease uncertainty

What SCIF form is used for stress?
nanosecond wrote "What SCIF form is used for stress?" You can find it here: Share it with your friends and don't forget to call the 800 number for EAP for a crisis counseling session. If you do go, be sure to get a DOWO. You don't need your boss on your back for taking time off.

That prompted this appeal:

To those of you thinking about playing the "stress card" please don't. Don't contribute to the public opinion that state workers are lazy and always looking for ways to go out on a bogus claim at tax payer's expense. Let's keep our integrity and show the private sector that we aren't quitters, but workers of strong character. The whole state is hurting. Much as I hate the furloughs, and the consequences for many, we must fight these politicians not resort to tacky, false claims that only sully our worker reputations. Write your legislator, be active, write letters to newspapers, talk to your friends, but please, show we are honest workers of good character.

Jan. 30 Judge approves Schwarzenegger's furlough plan

Listen, and understand. That Terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

Amusing post that gives new meaning to actor Michael Biehn's line in "The Terminator." Well done!

Jan. 30 Furlough details released

The Governor won the court room battle based on his "state of fiscal emergency." Was it ever brought up or discussed as to why he waited so long to declare an "emergency". Could it have been an intentional act to delay union talks so he could act without meet and confer. Pete Wilson was no friend to public employees, especially state ones. Only two general salary raises in eight years. Yet he meet with and negotiated a one day furlough a month for all state employees, even those working for constitutional officers.

Court documents submitted by the governor's attorneys included papers that showed some labor negotiation details and that noted the special legislative sessions called to address the budget mess. Those failed efforts, in combination with the unforeseen market meltdown, appear to have convinced the judge that the situation is an "emergency."

One question before I leave these silly boards for good: How will the general fund absorb the automatic 10% restoration of pay when the furloughs expire? Where will that money come from? Arnold's successor will be faced with a very serious labor crisis not of his/her own making.

Good questions for which we have no firm answers. You can reasonably speculate that if the economy hasn't recovered this year -- some economists are now predicting it won't -- that the state's finances will remain strained when the furloughs expire next year. Much will depend on the language in the next labor pacts. Will they include iron-clad terms that restore furloughed hours and pay? We'll see.

By the way, sorry to see you go. We hope you'll reconsider.

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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