The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 13, 2009
Blog back: Ratification, rationale and raises

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

Mar. 9 Union president urges agreement ratification

I would like to know exactly how this letter, dated February 24, was sent. If sent via e-mail or snail mail, it should have long ago reached all recipients. Has anyone actually gotten it or was it sent to the newspaper for distribution?

As the post mentions, the letter came to The State Worker from a union member. The union member received the letter in the mail with a ballot. We confirmed the letter with union officials, but SEIU Local 1000 headquarters did not send the letter to us.

Mar. 6 LAO analyzes SEIU Local 1000 deal

So someone help me out. Seems to me the governor imposed the furloughs with the "emergency" excuse with help from his favorite Judge Marlotte (sic) (hope I got the name right). So what is the justification for continuing furlough since we are no longer in a fiscal emergency? Isn't this a contradiction? Am I missing something or was this his agenda all along. How can we trust anything he says?

This argument came up in the lawsuit Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger filed against Controller John Chiang over furloughing employees who work under constitutional officers. Judge Patrick Marlette wasn't convinced. His rationale, as outlined in the tentative ruling made final on Thursday: The budget bills that lawmakers passed assume savings from furloughing state workers.

As to the governor's motivation for furloughs, his office has consistently said that just as the California families are having to tighten their belts, state government must do the same -- and furloughs are part of that cinching up process.

Mar. 10 Legislature avoided mandatory pay cuts

... I bet they give themselves a healthy raise, too, now that CA is getting so much money from the feds.

Elected officials' pay is set by the California Citizens Compensation Commission. The commission is comprised of seven gubernatorial appointees.

Mar. 9 Court filing argues constitutionals' employees subject to furlough

I have read parts of the Calif. Constitution that pertain to the elected offices. It appears the framers of the constitution were clear on these offices being separate from the Governor. If the court rules in favor of the Governor, then why would we need separate constitutional offices. Just let the Governor's office be responsible for all they do and he can appoint the necessary department heads. This would cut down on the size of the elections and their costs.

As we report today, Judge Patrick Marlette has ruled that the governor is the ultimate employer of state workers, including those of constitutional officers. The constitutionals control how there offices operate, but the governor's administration handles the terms of employment -- including layoffs, pay and, in this case, furloughs. The case will be appealed, Chiang's office told The State Worker.

The next two comments are best read back-to-back:

I work for a regular State office and am being furloughed. However, I do not agree that elected officials should have to abide by the Governor's ruling. This is the reason these are ELECTED OFFICIALS, that being, the Governor has no say. If you disagree, don't vote for the elected officials. If the Governor were to succeed in this, it takes away the power of the elected officials to make their own decisions.
As a fellow state worker who works under Insurance Commissioner Poizner, who is not furloughed yet, I completely agree with you.

We wonder how other state workers feel about this. Is this a constitutional question of such weight that it's worth some employees being furloughed and others not?

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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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