The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

April 20, 2009
SEIU labor contract stuck in Assembly ditch

It looks like the Service Employees International Union Local 1000 contract bill is about to get stuck in the Assembly -- and may not get acted on for at least a month.

AB 964 is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, said Dan Reeves, chief of staff for Appropriations Chairman Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. From there it will move to the Assembly floor for a vote.

But the bill needs four three Republican Assembly member votes to reach the two-thirds it needs to move on to the Senate.

"They don't have even one," Reeves told us this afternoon.

We spoke briefly to Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines of Clovis today and asked whether his caucus opposed the deal. He said no, but that he is meeting with SEIU "in the next week or two ... These things take time."

Reeves and others we spoke with over the last few days figure that the Republicans may not be ready to vote on the bill until after the May 19 special election.

Rumors have swirled for the better part of a week that the contract is dead. Union executives and rank-and-file workers have called and e-mailed The State Worker to report that the bill is dead. Some said it won't get out of Appropriations. Others opined that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signaled to his party that, given the worsening state of the economy, that he is ready to walk away from a deal that took the administration and the union nearly a year to negotiate.

The governor's office and the Department of Personnel Administration both denied that accusation last week when we talked to them.

The motives and nature of the opposition to the bill remain unclear, but what will happen if the bill fails isn't. The union and DPA would have to reopen negotiations. Given the hard bargaining that went into the deal now in the Assembly, we would expect even tougher talks the next go-round.

Jim Zamora, spokesman for SEIU Local 1000, said that President Yvonne Walker declined to comment "at this time."

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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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