The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 18, 2009
Blog Back: Holidays, 'hits,' and Highway Patrol

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

Your humble blogger is off work from now until Sept. 29. Our Capitol Bureau colleagues will keep things going, and we have a few items to post while we're gone. So keep checking in.

Aug. 31 SEIU files another furlough lawsuit

Interesting how the English language allows for interpretation:

So, "SEIU files ANOTHER furlough lawsuit", huh? What, are we boring you, Ortiz? Do you find unions defending the legal rights of their members monotenous (sic)? It sure seems that no matter how often we're vindicated in the courts (see below), State employees and our unions will NEVER be treated fairly in the Bee.

The caps were the commenter's addition to the headline. They effectively conveyed his or her interpretation of "another" as downplaying the importance of the lawsuit. We didn't use the word intending to convey that. But with 19 lawsuits in the courts -- and Local 1000 now a party in five of them -- we used "another" to mean "additional" or "one of several."

Click the link below to read more blog backs.

Sept. 1 Local 1000 pressing contract deal with ads, legislation

So what about those two lost holidays? The Legislature passed legislation to get rid of them so they have taken them off the books. Was there language in that legislation that voided it if the contract was never approved? How can they take away 2 holidays based on an agreement that was never ratified by the Legislature? Let's start with that one first SEIU ... that alones (sic) shows bad faith on behalf of the Government towards its employees ... that should be easy for a judge to rule on.

Local 1000 has filed a grievance with PERB about the holiday changes. Click this link to read about it and view the filing.

And CASE has filed a grievance and now a lawsuit over the holiday takeaways as well.

Sept. 3 BOE bracing for layoffs

Some commenters posted with glee at the news BOE employees faced layoffs:

I work for a specially funded agency which is being furloughed. It is good to see that General Funded BOE employees will be taking a hit. I am so sick of my friends who work for General Fund agencies like BOE, Controllers, and Education that say they are glad not to be furlough. They always tell me about how rough is it to lose three days of pay a month.

The "glad they're taking a hit" comment coming from a self-identified state worker strikes us as sounding much like the comments that some folks outside of government who were glad state workers took a hit when the governor has ordered furloughs. Ironic.

lol!!!!! How's that firm stance by your Board looking now? Voting any of those Dems out next year?

Sept. 3 CASE files its furlough appeal

Several commenters keyed on this part of CASE's argument:

The ruling of the trial court, if allowed to stand, will allow all future Governors to create "emergencies" justifying an extraordinary power never before thought to exist, which is not contemplated in any statute, regulation, or contract, and which would fundamentally alter the nature of labor relations, and would render collective bargaining and any resulting MOUs meaningless and subject to unilateral rescission at the whim of the Governor.
... Exactly on point. Nothing less than the future of collective bargaining is at stake here.
Even when all is said and done, I believe the California culture will never be the same. One example is the divisiveness that has occurred between state vs. private employees as well as between state workers and the governor's office may forever remain caustic. Most humans don't forgive and forget easily, especially because so much ill will has permeated our society. Just my opinion. I hope I am proven wrong. I truly do.

An interesting take. What do others think? Is there a fundamental cultural shift underway? Or will things change again once the economy improves and a new governor takes over?

How times have changed. My grandpa made the news in his small home town in Idaho by scoring high on a civil service exam where tens of thousands of individuals took the exam. I mean, this was at least 70 years ago. However, the point is civil service was once looked upon as honorable. I still take great pride in my job because I know I serve the public good. Even though I do not expect yearly parades to honor State workers, I still do not understand all of the demonizing by the Executive and some of the private sector. After all, Arnold has his job because of the work we do. I think he forgets that.

Sept. 4 Senate passes state worker electronic pay stub bill

This post mentioned the snake-bitten 21st Century Project.

Well, I'm all for this. I get direct deposit and I think paper statements are a waste of money. People can receive electronic statements and if they want to print it out they can. If they lose their paper copy they can always print another. I "THINK" the State Controller's 21st Century project involves updating of the software and hardware used to produce payroll and other checks, but I'm not certain. Where can we find info on this 21st Century Project?
Click here for more info about the project. It seems like whenever this is brought up, jeers and/or disbelief follow:

"Where can we find info on this 21st Century Project?" Due to delays pushing back the anticipated rollout date, it has been renamed the 22nd Century project.

Sept. 4 Read the analysis of the CAHP plan to prefund retiree health benefits

I do not understand the Sacbee, they have no problem jumping on the bandwagon regarding talking about other unions but are afraid to talk about the CHP. I am still waiting for the Sacbee to post the CHP pay scale and ranges.

You can find base pay information for all CHP jobs, including patrol officers by clicking here and entering the search term, "highway patrol."

Want more? Click here to read the CAHP contract addendum. And this link downloads the union's current MOU, which expires next year.

Sept. 4 Q&A reveals Local 1000's lawsuit paradox

Because while Local 1000 follows Andy Stern's "organizing model" of labor unions, the rank and file know that a victory for their brothers and sisters in SCIF is a victory for labor at-large. Despite the anti-union fairy tales propagated on these comment blogs, unionism is on the edge of irrelevancy. We all need every victory we can muster, be it in the courts or on the streets, to strengthen unionism itself which, in turn, strengthens the middle class which is the engine which drives our economy and helps us all, rich and poor alike, toward long term prosperity (and not just next quarter's profits).

It seems, though, that the Bee is somewhat disappointed when labor supports labor. Well, boo-hoo, SacBee.

We agree that unionism is on the edge of irrelevancy in the private sector. In the public sector, however, it is holding its own (at least in terms of membership and employee representation.) Click here to download a table showing public employee union membership percentages nationwide, courtesy of unionstats.com. The Web site also has state-by-state data from 1983 to last year. In California's public sector, unions represented nearly 61 percent of workers in 2008, compared with about 57 percent in 1983.

Of course, what those numbers don't indicate is how much clout unions have lost, particularly in the last year or so as elected officials at all levels have used layoffs and unpaid time off for employees to balance their budgets.

As to The Bee's "disappointment" over labor supporting labor, we can't speak for the organization. This blog post was an observation, not a statement of a position.

Sept. 8 State workers visiting food banks; news from around the nation

This Labor Day story by Bee colleague Anita Creamer about broke state workers seeking assistance struck dissonant chords with blog users:

Give me a break folks. This article yesterday about how Jasmine, a DMV employee, and her daughter Chocolate are ashamed that they now have to go to a food bank to make ends meet. This is such a sham! She didn't sneak in there, under the cover of darkness. Oh no, she brings her Sunday's best, a microphone, a soapbox, and the media for a nice on-the-spot photo shoot! Union crap! I'm curious, what had priority, that fancy haircut of hers or Chocolate's breakfast? This is the biggest bunch of nonsense!!
A sad day in this State when State Civil Servants that work for this State. and it's people, have to stand in line for hand-outs, because our Governor, Legislature, and DPA, have decided to circumvent binding labor contracts, and balance their failed budget on the backs of State workers.

These people have caused this budget crisis, and have done nothing to resolve the problem for the last six years. This is a self created emergency, because of their inability to Govern and Legislate this State. If you think I'm full of it, just look at their approval ratings.

You want reform in California Government, in 2010 vote everyone of them out of their elected positions.

Sept. 8 Bill introduced to exempt non-general fund employees from furloughs

Reaction to Assemblyman Hector De La Torre's bill ranged from laudatory to skeptical:

Hurrah! Long overdue!
Let's see when are these legislators up for re-election? Could that be what is motivating their decision to all of a sudden see furloughs as a bad thing? Guess they need the union money and people power. Gee I think that I have some laundry to do.

This user offered an interesting angle on whether furloughing workers based on funding source would be "fair" or would create an unfair consequence:

The budget was built on the assumption that everyone takes the furlough days. So if you exempt a group of people from the furloughs, that "savings" has to be made up somewhere ... Do you see where this is going? Non-general fund employees don't furlough, general fund employees take a 4th furlough day to make up the difference ... it is a zero-sum game, so the notion of fairness has no business being part of the discussion.

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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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