The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 5, 2009
Blog back: Migration, money math and making sure

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

Feb. 27 Furloughs creating HR headaches at CalPERS

It's State Worker vs. The State these days. Arnold can be blamed for inciting such disrespect and hatred for State Workers. I work for one of those Evil constitutional offices. We are not furloughed, but man is the phone ringing off the hook with people trying to see if they can transfer here. We plan on taking the best of the best that want to come over to the dark side from other agencies if we can get away with it. We Win on 2 levels, the ones that get laid off are going to be the younger, brighter, more ambitious workers from the bottom 20%. We will scoop them up if we can.

Sounds like the Legislative Analyst's Office was right. This Jan. 30 report predicted that an uneven application of furloughs would create employee migration. Check out PDF page 7 of the analysis, "Cuts of a Similar Magnitude in Special Funds Personnel Costs."

Feb. 27 Furlough paychecks hit employees today

While my family is suffering from this big pay cut, governor appointed his friend with 6 figure salary. This is sixth one. where is justice! Where are so union leaders? We should all take sick day and go to Sacramento!

There is an undeniable irony to former Assemblywoman Sharon Runner's gubernatorial appointment to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. The Lancaster Republican will make $128,109 per year as a board member, according to this report by our Capitol Bureau colleague Shane Goldmacher.

Jon-do a running total of the wasteful/questionable travel you & other press discover(in violation of a Governor Executive Order) & personal service contracts (like the DPA contract for the Governor's $450 per hr. lawyers)after the date prohibiting any new ones in the Executive Order...the math probably will exceed the projection for furlough savings....

An interesting idea. We'll see if we can make it happen.

Moving on ... The question of the percentage impact of two-day-per-month furloughs to a household where both wage earners work for the state has vexed blog users ever since Schwarzenegger ordered the unpaid days off in December. Here's one user's stab at explaining it:

Let's settle this whole math question once and for all!

If only one adult in a two-income household works for the state, (assuming they earn the same) the *household* would suffer a 5% loss in of income.

If both adults in that household work for the state, the *household* would get a "double hit" and would suffer a 10% total loss. Similarly, as in my case, if there is only one income for the household and he/she works for the state, that household, too, gets a 10% hit.

The most common mistake we've seen is thinking that if two state workers in a home lose 10 percent each that the total hit is 20 percent. This user makes a similar error by doubling the lost income but failing to double the remaining take home pay.

For the purpose of easy numbers, let's say that a state worker makes $1,000 per month and then loses 10 percent of his wages to furloughs. His pay reduced pay would be $900 (which is 90 percent of $1,000.) If his wife, say, also made $1,000 and lost 10 percent, she would would also be down $100, and also take home $900.

The "double hit" equals $200, but the percentage of income lost to the household is still 10 percent of the combined $2,000 earned before furlough.

Mar. 2 More details about furlough makeup days for SEIU Local 1000 workers
Mar. 3 Changes (again) to March furlough schedule

Today's State Worker Column on how the state has handled furlough policy sprang from your calls, e-mails and comment on these two posts. One sharp-eyed user alerted us to subtle but significant changes to the DPA Web site that were a key point in the piece. Thanks to everyone who helped out.

No one knows for sure right now what is happening with the furloughs. Don't believe what you hear from the union, DPA or the Gov's office. It changes from day to day. Sure makes the people running CA look incompetent. What am I saying? They are.
Somebody clarify for me--I THINK it's June 2012 by which time you have to use your banked furlough hours. It's June 2010 when the proposed new contract would expire.

That's right.

Once again, our bumbling governor has created a mess. A nightmare for state agencies trying to accomplish their mandates as decreed by state statutes. This is what comes of turning state employees into scapegoats instead of those elected to do a job taking responsibility. Dysfunction piled upon dysfunction, powered by Bully Arnold. What's next? With current logic, state employees will now be blamed for the drought. It just gets more insane.
Where is the Bee getting this information? Unless you got it from DPA, then you shouldn't be reporting it. I was just told by one of our managers that the furlough days are the 6th and the 20th per DPA. Stop putting this incorrect information out. It's bad enough that we're getting conflicting information from SEIU.

As noted in today's column, the furlough messages from DPA have shifted in the last week. It's quite possible that managers received a policy decision that had yet to be publicly announced.

And, yes, before we report on these matters, we check with multiple sources, including DPA.

Jon, could you tell us how SEIU's TA will affect planned layoffs at EDD? EDD's on DPA's list of agencies handing out layoff notices, but their employees are represented by SEIU. I'm assuming that notices issued to those employees will be rescinded once the TA is ratified?

Employees represented by Local 1000 can still be laid off under terms of the TA if their department, facility or entire office is shut down. But if only their position is eliminated, they can take a job within 10 percent of their current pay and within 50 miles of where they live.

But don't take our word for it. Click here for links of to the contract by bargaining unit and a DPA summary of the terms. The union's Web site has dedicated a page to the Master Contract articles and another page to contract terms specfic to each BU.

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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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