The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

April 27, 2009
Blog back: Reporting, rumors and raw nerves

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

Note: This blog back is our last post until we return from vacation on May 11. Our talented Bee Capitol Bureau colleagues will keep The State Worker fed while we're gone.

April 21 Donate $100K, eat with the governor; union spends $500K to defeat 1A

We took out some of the disparaging lines of this post to get to the interesting nut of the comment:

... nothing is simple with SEIU. Local 1000, big as it is, with 94,000 some odd members is only about 15% or so of the SEIU State Council. So bottom line, even though their MOU was at stake in Local 1000 the rest of the State Council voted to oppose Prop 1A.

Makes you wonder... Is SEIU too big to manage?

Here's one way to see Local 1000's numerical place in SEIU's California universe: If the union overall were a gallon of water, Local 1000's workers would be a bit more than a pint.

Arnold can't very well visibly kill his own agreement. But he WAS double crossed. It's so obvious. It is right there in front of you! So, now the word is out. Arnold doesn't want any Republicans to vote for it.

A popular rumor that as far as we can tell is without merit. We've asked around and no Republicans, even off the record, have said that this is part of the political calculus behind AB 964.

If I give arnold (sic) $100,000, will the threats of paying me federal minimum wage stop? Will I get my full time job back, my two lost holidays, per diem equal to the Legislature, and parity with other CA government attorneys? Isn't this how the Big Dogs roll? Woof.

It's how they roll on both sides of the aisle. Remember the hundreds of thousands of dollars former state Sen. Don Perata, D-Oakland, took in for his anti-Prop. 11 campaign? If you've forgotten the details, stroll down memory lane with this blog post.

sacramento_capitol.jpgApril 22 Read about the state workers who recently received raises

This post raised an interesting question: Are folks working in the Legislature really state workers? We've always thought they are ...

... state workers are very different than legislative scales, civil service rules, and salary structures are all far too different. The headline is misleading as a result.
Again Jon, get your facts straight -- most state workers are forced to take two (2) upaid furlough days each month, most of which DOES NOT save the state any money and even COSTS THE STATE MONEY in those instances of federally or special funded agencies. Wouldn't it be easier to use the facts than to continually make your "data" up as you churn out each article?

We understand state workers' raw nerves over all things furlough. It's a stressful topic that we always try to approach with great care.

What prompted the comment, we assume, comes from the section we cited from a story by colleague Jim Sanders. (If it's in a gray box, it's not our words.)

However, we didn't read the phrase, "... state workers are required to take an unpaid furlough each month," as meaning one day. It's a reference to the policy. It would have been incorrect if it read, "... required to take an unpaid furlough day each month." Still, the phrase could have been more precise.

As to Jim's summary that the policy is in place "to save money," well, that is the stated reason. Whether the ultimate outcome is otherwise wasn't the point of his story.

April 22 Assembly official expects SEIU contract bill 'will get done'

This commenter criticized your humble blogger for failing to jump on the AB 964 rumors early enough:

Mr. Ortiz .. I am little shocked that you have not written about this issue. I know you see the writing on the wall. Why is the governor not being questioned about this. I think everyone can see what his intentions are and secretly have been ... Can you tell me why no one has asked the gov what his plans are regarding all the state workers contracts that are expired...does he plan to make all the state workers suffer through more furlough's since ballot initiative look doomed? Mr. Ortiz I respect what you do, but given the title of the column you write, why the silence with respect to the person who has all the power...the governor?

And another user was fed up with our "questionable morals" and "ability to dance around the truth," because, in the user's view, we posted unsubstantiated rumors:

... You cannot be trusted to tell the truth but you can be trusted to create non-stories to stir up peoples' emotions needlessly. Get counseling Jon. Or at least take a journalism class and learn how to accurately analyze the information before you publish it.

The legislative process is deliberative to the point of being glacial. Sometimes reporting goes at the same speed. And it should, particularly when the topic is volatile -- and the SEIU contract situation is one big emotional hot button.

We heard conflicting rumors for a couple of weeks about AB 964 (some first surfaced in comments on this blog), but getting anything on the record was extremely difficult. Sources would talk and then pull back. And no one was saying the same thing, so we didn't know what to think -- or report.

We did ask the administration for its position and reported it in this post. Ditto for Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines.

SEIU Local 1000 declined to talk to us about the bill.

As to expired contracts, we have reported several times about disputes between the administration and unions over how to treat so-called "evergreen" clauses with regard to furloughs and overtime. (Here's an example.)We assume (erroneously?) that blog users don't need or want for us to rewind those details in every post that addresses furloughs, pay or contracts.

The reports regarding the SEIU Bargining Unit Contracts being stalled in the Assembly Committees were very inaccurate.

We reported that the bill has moved more slowly through the Assembly than originally intended because Republicans weren't ready to move it quickly. We said it would move though committee to the Assembly floor and then probably wouldn't be voted on "for nearly a month." As of Friday, that was still true, from what we hear.

I thought the legislature passed the budget back in February for the rest of this fiscal year and next...therefore according the judge's ruling regarding minimum wages would not apply. Jon what are your thoughts?

Check the third item in this blog back post.

April 23 State worker rips Bass over raise rescission rationale

This post sparked an interesting and (mostly) civil debate about the power of unions in California state government. There were too many remarks to post them here, but we encourage you to click here to read the discussion.

See you in two weeks!

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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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