The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 9, 2009
Union president urges agreement ratification

SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker has sent this letter to union members, urging that they vote for the tentative agreement the local reached last month with the state.

The letter, sent to The State Worker by a SEIU member, argues that a "no" vote will put the union at the mercy of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who might then impose terms such as,

... $6.55 (per hour), layoffs, two furlough days per month, increased out-of-pocket costs for health care premiums, and permanent loss of holidays.

(Our understanding is that Schwarzenegger can't impose the federal minimum wage unless the state is without allocated money for payroll, such as when lawmakers fail to put a budget in place by the start of a fiscal year. Read pages 4 and 5 of White v. Davis for the legal reasoning. The governor would also have to win his lawsuit to force Controller John Chiang to cut payroll checks at the reduced rate. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley has issued a tentative ruling in that case and should issue a final ruling any time.)

SEIU's tentative deal has implications for state workers beyond the 95,000 represented by Local 1000. Every other union at the bargaining table is probably asking themselves: Is the SEIU TA the floor or the ceiling? Can we do better, or should we consider the Local 1000 deal something to which we aspire?

And what if the rank-and-file rejects the deal? The union would have to go back to the bargaining table. Then what? Would the administration budge? Or would it take the hard line that Walker suggests? And how would other unions view an SEIU rank-and-file rejection? Would members in other bargaining units vote the same way on a similar deal?

On a related note, click here for our recent post on the LAO analysis of the Local 1000 deal.

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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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