The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 1, 2009
Blog back: Contracts, Columbus Day and convenience

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

Sept. 11 Local 1000 files grievance on holiday changes

These two comments summarize two schools of thought that have surfaced in literally hundreds of comments on this blog about the controversial changes to the state's holiday schedule:

The holiday's are gone. This past March a law went into effect that eliminated the Columbus and Lincoln's Birthday holiday. It was signed by the Gov. SEIU negotiated two floating holidays as the exchange but since the contract was never passed and signed the holidays should be returned. More to come in the next few weeks.
US Constitution - Section 10. NO STATE SHALL enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, OR LAW IMPAIRING THE OBLIGATION OF CONTRACTS, or grant any title of nobility.

What part of this statement doesn't the California Legislature and Governor understand?

Others have cited the Dills Act.

We were surprised by the relative lack of reaction from blog users about this issue until SEIU Local 1000 told state workers it represents that they still should consider Columbus Day a paid holiday under the terms of the union's expired contract. (In fairness, we should note that CASE filed a lawsuit contesting the holiday changes and SEIU Local 1000 filed a grievance with the Department of Personnel Administration.

We recently asked Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker why the union didn't raise the issue earlier. She said that because the union's labor deal -- which exchanges Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday in exchange for two personal days -- was still alive in the Legislature, the local was content to let the process play out. But now that Republicans in the Legislature have twice blocked the agreement's ratification (with Schwarzenegger's encouragement, according to Walker) and Columbus Day approaching, the union's leadership felt it needed to take a position.

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Taking away holidays does exactly what?? I fail to see where this helps saving money for the state.

In February, when Local 1000 was negotiating the MOU that Republicans in the Legislature have since twice blocked, the rationale was that exchanging two paid holidays for two floating holidays would save the state money by reducing premium pay costs.

Sept. 11 State Fund updates: Furlough time compensation, cash award dispute

We've written a few times about the time compensation conundrum for State Compensation Insurance Fund employees, now that two judges have declared furloughing them illegal. This blog user had a suggestion about how to handle the disparities.

All furloughed state employees were given/earned x amount of furlough hours, either used or not ("not used" is still "in the bank"). I feel the FHs should be able to cashed out for those who have not used them, OR the use accounted for on monthly time sheets until exhausted. The FHs could still be used to cover time off within 2 years from the planned date stated by the Gov, but no one would lose anything this way. In fact, I still have PLP time (from the last time we received a 5% pay cut!!!!) in my bank of time available to "spend". All of my time just allows me to actually quit working that much sooner than my actual formal retirement date.

Sept. 14 SEIU contract held up in the Senate

Jan. 1 Statutes take effect (Art. IV, Sec. 8(c)).
Jan. 4 Legislature reconvenes

Sweet. We get to wait 3 full months for them to maybe pass it and then have the Gov. veto it.

The Legislature is reconvening, so the Senate could take it up again soon. What the governor would do if the bill made it to his desk? We agree with the comment.

A while ago, we were all told CHP was exempt from the furloughs because they had a contract. The GAS said everyone must feel the pain, and take haircuts. CHP has a new contract pushed through the Legislature, and it's language still contains no furloughs ...

The bill recently passed by the Legislature is an addendum to the existing CAHP contract. It's not a new contract. Click here to read about it. The CAHP deal expires next year.

Sept. 14 Local 1000 president talks about union's stalled contract

CHP doesn't get a furlough, yet all state workers face three. It doesn't make sense.
lovethelaw wrote on 09/14/2009 05:23:54 PM: CHP doesn't get a furlough, yet all state workers face three. It doesn't make sense.

Cal Fire does not get furloughed either. Do you see a pattern with that?

ITS CALLED PUBLIC SAFETY !!! If you call 911 because your life is in danger and you get hurt or die, the State is liable (more lawsuits). If you don't get your drivers license or your unemployment check on time, no one dies.

Sorry to put it that way, I know it sucks.


CAHP is the only union with an active contract, a fact that the administration has pointed to as a reason it hasn't furloughed the state's 7,000 or so Highway Patrol officers. CDFF's contract has expired, but it's members received a furlough pass in July, ostensibly because of the demands of the fire season. The union recently received an extension. But other public safety workers, such as correctional officers, have been furloughed. So even among public safety employees, furlough policy varies.

Which really bugs this commenter:

bigolhc, it's NOT about "public safety"! If it were, Arnold would also be taking care of Correctional Officers, since they keep over 100,000 criminals locked up. No, it's about union busting. At least, for those unions he doesn't like. While I'm not against that, I AM against the inconsistency of it all. Bust them all, or bust none. Don't play favorites. I have no sympathy for CCPOA or SEIU, but someone needs to tell the truth. Between the State's "implemented terms" (on CCPOA) and furloughs, they have created more work and overtime than you could possibly imagine! The personnel offices are overwhelmed with paperwork and calculations. It's insane. If taxpayers could see how much work this has caused, there would be an uproar!

That last comment, we think, is key. It doesn't look to us like the general public sees or cares about how much the furloughs may be gumming up the state's business. We don't hear that people feel any loss outside of a handful departments being closed on Fridays. We know of only one event, the Marin County freeway spill, where furloughs could be tied to public inconvenience.

Here's the big question: If the public adjusts to a furloughed state workforce, how does that affect the politics of furlough policy? For example, if the state's finances are still a mess at the end of this fiscal year, will 17 months of furlough precedent make it easier for the governor to consider extending the furloughs beyond June 30, 2010, when they're supposed to end?

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

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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