The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 4, 2009
Q&A reveals Local 1000's lawsuit paradox

Many state workers have been celebrating SEIU Local 1000's successful lawsuit to overturn Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough of State Compensation Insurance Fund employees. But the win apparently has created some concern for the union's leaders. Why? Because the the lawsuit applies to a small, select group out of the 95,000 workers covered by SEIU.

The State Fund furlough lawsuit and Local 1000's shifting moves reveal the conundrum that the state's biggest public employee union often faces: Even when it wins, it loses with some of the rank-and-file.

Take the union's shifting positions with suing Schwarzenegger and State Fund. Regular readers of The State Worker will recall that at first SEIU wanted no part of a lawsuit that challenged State Fund furloughs. But after California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employment won, we noticed many SEIU members, particularly the thousands who work for the fund, were incensed that their union hadn't been part of the action.

It wasn't long before Local 1000 decided it would file a similar lawsuit on behalf of the State Fund employees it represents.

Now the union has won, it's clear that it wants to quell resentment from union members who don't work for State Fund and are still under the governor's three-day furlough order. It's put out "How the SCIF furlough exemption impacts other Local 1000 Members," a Q&A that explains the win as a significant crack in the legal dam that so far has kept furloughs in place for nearly everyone else under the governor's control.

This blog hasn't noticed anything close to the level of anger that surfaced when the union failed to join the State Fund furlough battle early on. From our point of view, it looks like SEIU's win hasn't stirred up much trouble among the rank-and-file.

Click here to read the union's Q&A.

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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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