The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 9, 2009
Blog back: Headlines, holdings, hours toward OT

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

Mar.5 Governor's office: Tomorrow is the last 'Furlough Friday'

The story headline was misleading. There are still furloughs, but now we chose when we want to take them."
Agreed, although you gotta understand that Ortiz is seriously worried about his own job. Misleading headlines can generate more traffic for him.

We respectfully disagree on both points. The headline is accurate: Friday was in fact the last time that the government will shut down statewide -- that's the most significant news because It's the most relevant to the general public. "Governor's office: No more furloughs after Friday," would have been inaccurate and misleading.

The headline could have read, "State workers to switch to self-directed furloughs," or something to that effect, but the significance would have been lost on anyone outside of the state workforce.

As to what drives traffic to this site, we believe that if the blog is timely, fair, relevant and accurate that it will be useful. Accomplish that and we believe the rest of that stuff takes care of itself.

SMUD and PG&E are elated with this news of "self directed" (or rather, self inflicted) furlough days, as the lights will still be on in state buildings every work day. So much for a logical approach at savings by one day with the lights off. No surprise though, the governor's entire approach is illogical, apathetic and detrimental.
Ummm.... wouldn't it save the state money if they furloughed everyone out on the same day? Think of all the electricity it would save?

We asked the governor's office about the savings achieved by closing facilities, since that was one of the arguments the administration made for shutting down two days each month. Why not just close one day each month and then let workers and management pick the second day? Here's what the governor's spokesman, Aaron McLear, said in an e-mail to The State Worker:

Uniform furlough days have the added benefit of saving the state on energy costs by closing down state facilities. But we are also trying to minimize the impact to our customers and trying to minimize the economic impact on local business dependent on providing services and products to government.
Jon--given that oversight of pharmaceuticals seems central to this article, did anyone check to see whether or not the Governor's investment portfolio included pharmaceuticals?

The governor's holdings, and those of other elected state workers, are listed on his Form 700 report to the Fair Political Practices Commission. The Bee will soon post his new filing on its Financial Disclosure Reports page.

We've seen the Mar. 2 report covering Schwarzenegger's 2008 holdings, and it doesn't appear that the governor has investments in pharmaceuticals. But even if he did, we're not sure what link one could draw between that and Marin taking speaking fees from drug companies.

Mar. 6 The State Worker: To furlough or not, still the question

Nice article, I bet Stacy Garrett never gets a "step increase" or promotion ever again. When you speak your mind, you get penalized. Just look what happened at John Garamendi's office. I hear he runs his office by himself from an old card table & a payphone on the wall.

We're grateful to Stacy for her candor because we know she spoke for many state workers. It's one thing for a Bee blogger/columnist/reporter to opine about what's it's like to work for the government -- or for critics to anonymously lob grenades via online comments -- and another for a state worker who does it every day to lend a pithy on-the-record quote. The latter usually is much more informed and interesting.

And if you think Garrett's quote in our Thursday column was something, check out her op-ed piece in last Sunday's Bee.

Amusing take about what Schwarzenegger's 2009-10 budget cuts will do to the Lt. Governor's office, by the way.

Mar. 6 LAO analyzes SEIU Local 1000 deal

Hey Jon, since it appears that you are now the Personnel Officer for the State; can you instruct the peons as to who is correct on the interpretation of the leave counting as hours worked for purposes of overtime? The union claims that only sick leave is excluded for purposes of counting hours worked for overtime; the SBX 3 8 say all leave. So which one is it?

We majored in journalism and political science in college, not contract law, so our opinion on this doesn't matter much. Here's what the LAO's Local 1000 tentative contract analysis says on PDF page 10:

Provisions to Reduce Use of Overtime Hours. Previously, various types of employee leave have been counted by departments as an hour worked for purposes of computing overtime, and this has increased state overtime costs. A trailer bill enacted as part of the recent budget package contains new requirements that no type of state employee leave or holiday shall be "considered as time worked by the employee for the purpose of computing cash compensation for overtime or compensating time off for overtime." These provisions were intended to reduce state costs for employee overtime. The Local 1000 MOUs contain various provisions on overtime, but allow enacted legislation to supersede "any and all MOU sections or past practices" that conflict with these enacted laws. Accordingly, the trailer bill provisions to reduce the state's use of overtime hours would remain in effect under the Local 1000 MOUs.

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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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