The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

April 7, 2009
Blog back: Contracts, court action and conspiracy theories

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

ASSEMBLY_SEAL 1.jpgMar. 27 Read the latest CalPERS memo on furlough policy

My question is how long is it going to take to get the (SEIU Local 1000) contract signed by the legislature and Governor?

The Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security last week passed AB 964, the bill that appropriates money for the SEIU Local 1000 contract. It's now with Assembly Appropriations and has yet to be assigned a hearing date. As for when the legislation will make it to the governor's desk, it's tough to say. The Legislature's recess this week certainly doesn't speed things up.

Mar. 27 Psych techs file premium pay grievance

This post launched a discussion among blog users about the binding nature of employment contracts:

If contracts are binding for AIG bonus's then contracts are binding in labor agreements. Or is it only "certain" contracts that we abide by these days?
The time has come to dissolve all these lucrative labor contracts, and start outsourcing work to competitive bidding. The comparison below to the AIG bonus contracts works, in that these union contracts were driven by the same underlying greed, and the costs fall squarely on the back of the tax payers.
Comparing AIG (Arrogance,Incompetence,Greed) contracts to state workers contacts is not the same thing at all. AIG contacts were for bonuses for millions of dollars.How much do most of the state workers make?

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CAPT is arguing that the "evergreen" language in its expired contract means the old terms governing overtime accrual remain effective until a new deal is in place. The question is whether the bill passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor that changes overtime rules trumps that evergreen language. We'll see what the Public Employment Relations Board thinks of CAPT's unfair practice charge.

On a related note, New York Times reporters Mary Williams Walsh and Jonathan Glater recently noted that, "Contracts everywhere are under assault."

The depth of the recession and the use of taxpayer dollars to bail out companies have made it politically acceptable for overseers to tinker with employment agreements.


So federal and local governments are looking for ways to pare payouts, endangering the promises made before the financial storm to people like Wall Street traders, automobile workers and garbage collectors.

"We run roughshod over some contracts and not over others," said David A. Skeel, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, about economic downturns. "Right now, employment contracts seem to be the type of contract that is viewed as eminently rewritable."

Read the rest of the Times piece by clicking here. Should state employment contracts be added to the list?

Mar. 29 Commission recommends IT consolidation; check out the report

Blog users last week criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to consolidate the state's IT with the State Office of the Chief Information Officer:

Until the DGS contracting methods are revised, this won't make any difference. It will definitely add indeterminant delays to getting goods and services for various agencies. Right now it already takes 3-6 months to get a needed piece of software. After this it will probably take a year. But on the positive side, when things go wrong, there will be (fewer) suspects to point fingers at.
On the one hand, this centralization will give us fewer rocks to look under for potential IT malfeasance but on the other hand, it also gives the money-men few places to expend their cover-up dollars.

April 3 Your April furlough update

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You mention additonal lawsuits. Will any of these be heard by someone other than Arnold's puppet Marionette? If not, why waste any more time with judge rubber stamp?

A lawsuit aimed at excluding State Compensation Insurance Fund employees is in San Francisco Superior Court. CCPOA has a case pending in Alameda Superior Court. And several unions have appealed Sacramento Superior Court Judge Patrick Marlette's January decision in favor of Schwarzenegger's emergency furlough power. The case is now with the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento.

I find it interesting that there has (sic) been no articles written in the bee (sic) on how state employees contracts have been ignored and stepped on by DPA, the Legislature and Gas, and so far there has (sic) been no repercussions to either of them.

There are legitimate questions about the terms under which state employees are now working that must be settled by the courts. We have reported those issues in the vast majority of nearly 60 State Worker blog posts touching on legal matters. We've written more than 50 stories or columns in the last year that looked at various aspects of Schwarzenegger's furloughs, layoff warnings and order to cut state worker pay to the federal minimum wage.

As to whether the administration has illegally "ignored" or "stepped on" state worker contracts, the courts haven't seen it that way so far -- and we've reported that as well.

April 4 Managers, supervisors can take furlough time by the hour

Here's a conspiracy theory that we'd not heard:

Arnie never wanted more than 1 day of furlough. The whole 2 day furlough idea was cooked up by SEIU. Notice the 2 day furlough came up while SEIU was at the table during their marathon bargaining session in which they tire their team out over a period of days with no sleep until they will agree to anything? That way SEIU can"save you" by letting you choose the lesser of two evils, now they prancing about claiming victory. VICTORY, imagine that! The biggest take-away contract in State history and SEIU is claiming victory??!!


Mark my words. As soon as this de-certification election that is being run against SEIU is over (early next month), Arnold will give everybody the 1-day furlough. Then YOU tell ME if you think SEIU is a crooked Union!

So noted.

IMAGES: Assembly seal / www.assembly.ca.gov; PERB seal / www.perb.ca.gov; gavel / www.yolo.courts.ca.gov

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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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