The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 2, 2009
Blog back: Conspiracy, Columbus Day, CalPERS 'potato guy'

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

Oct. 12 It's Columbus Day: What are you seeing, state workers?

This post drew more than 200 comments. Reports were varied, but the overwhelming number of comments came from folks who said their workplace attendance looked like usual, but that they were grieving a contractual holiday and expect they'll eventually get premium pay.

I'm going to work, and let the courts decide. I never trust what the union says. If they're so right, why arent they calling for a strike?
Count me, I am staying home today.
People are working, as directed. The assumption is that if Columbus Day is recognized as a holiday at some point, a personal holiday will just be given to everyone retroactively. No biggie....its not like we had some wild Columbus Eve parties to recover from!

It looked like SEIU remained divided on the best course of action. While Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker called on workers to stay home, other leaders told their people to come to work:

Me and my co-workers are here because our department's union reps told us to come to work and file grievances, even though we're part of SEIU 1000.

It makes you wonder how SEIU-covered state workers would respond if the union called a walkout.

Oct. 13 Billwatch: Measure to protect furloughed worker discounts dead -- for now
Oct. 16 Surprise! Bill to protect furloughed state worker discounts clears Senate

Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod's bill, SB 367, looked like it would be stalled until next year, the victim of partisan wrangling that had nothing to do with the merits of the legislation. Then, suddenly, it found life. The Senate sent the measure to Schwarzenegger on a unanimous vote, following an earlier unanimous vote by the Assembly. As of Sunday, the governor had not acted on the measure, according to this Web site that lists bills he has signed and vetoed.

I don't see the point in this law. Businesses give discounts to lots of other groups. Senior citizen meal price. Kids menu. Student discount movie ticket price. Military discount. besides, now does "regardless of sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation" stretch to cover employment status?

Click here for a story that lays out the legal issue that prompted Negrete McLeod to write the bill, which, by the way, was backed by the trial lawyers lobby.

Click the link below to read more blog backs.

Oct. 14 Doctors sue over furloughs

Really - how much are these lawsuits costing the state - in both time and money on both sides of the issue? If the employees win how much more will it cost the state in back pay and penalties? Is this the best way to be using everyone's resources? I include the CA taxpayer in this as well.

We'll ask the government for its lawsuit costs at the end of December, since six months into its 2009-10 contract for outside legal help with the various furlough fights seems like an apt time to check. Click here to see an earlier report on the administration's furlough litigation costs.

Of course, the the 18 active furlough cases in the courts also drain union resources, although those groups haven't been as forthcoming with their expenses as has the Schwarzenegger administration. (Click here to see our Furlough Fight spreadsheet, which lists the 18 active and three inactive lawsuits sparked by the governor's policies.)

As to back pay, interest and other money that a court might award if the governor ultimately loses the battle, it's anyone's guess.

Oct. 15 SEIU releases list of offices impacted by Columbus Day actions

The sad thing is that neither side in this whole mess can be fully trusted. Each of them have their own agenda and will claim "victory". Meanwhile we still get the swift kick in butt.
I reported to work as directed, and entered it on my weekly timesheet as having worked on a holiday. Of course it will not be approved by my supervisor, so the grievance forms have already been filled out and submitted.

Here's a take that belies ignorance of the vastness and variety of jobs in state government:

I rather doubt that anybody's world was turned upside down because a bunch of data entry clerks stayed home.
I think that thinking about this issue is a complete waste of time because no valid or reliable conclusions can be drawn about the personal decisions that folks made to go to work or stay home. Neither decision has any relevance to the union's call for employees to stay home. I know that the Bee would like this to be an issue, but it just isn't one.

This blog can't speak for "The Bee" (however the commenter defines it), but from our perspective, this is news. California's largest state employee union told the 95,000 workers it covers that they could stay home on Oct. 12. The state said that they couldn't. Both cited interpretations of the law as backing them. The matter is in court and thousands of grievances have been filed over the matter.

Seems like something we should cover.

Oct. 16 Morning reading: Public pensions, budgets, NY takes a shot at CA

THESILKY1 had trouble accessing the blog's comment feature, a frustrating situation that prompted this comment.

Thanks SAC-BEE for blocking me from posting on the TSW. Anyone else cut off from posting on this site? I was able to sneak through using a friends laptop. Shame on you! I had know idea my stuff was so controversial. Better Yet, I'll take it as a compliment, and switch to the SF Chronicle....
THESILKY1---I, too, was unable to access this site. Funny thing was that it happened whenever I used Firefox. No problem with Internet Explorer. Well anyhow, I contacted the Bee via e-mail to let them know. Either way, Firefox is now working again on this site. Have a good one. :)
Silk- I thought I saw a black helicopter near your neighborhood. Better check for bugs and spycams. I've also noticed the TSW comments not working with Firefox when the rest of the Bee site does.

Silk took the good-natured ribbing in the spirit it was intended:

R/B, I have been looking for the black Audi, with the tinted windows, LOL. Remember; The Truth Is Out There!

This blog and some others on experienced software problems for a few days in October that affected comments.

Your humble blogger knows that comments are a big draw to this Web site; people like express what they think and read the thoughts of others. And truth to be told, we enjoy regulars like THESILKY1. Keeps the blog lively.

If you ever think that you've been unfairly denied access to the comments section, e-mail (And be sure to read the rules of the road under "About Comments," which is posted above every comment box on

Oct. 16 Retiring CalPERS' 'potato guy' collected tons of spuds

We were happy to post a few facts about the impact of Tom Peterson's leadership and the giving nature of his CalPERS colleagues. Such news is always welcome here, and we hope that especially as the holidays near, that blog users will share their good works with The State Worker.

Nice post about a good Samaritan ...
Awesome work Spud Dude.
Great contributions, Tom Peterson! What a fun legacy to have, "Potato Guy."

Oct. 16 Psychiatric technicians weigh in on furlough findings

Last Thursday, October 15th, SEIU filed it's argument in Alameda Superior Court in their lawsuit against GAS for furloughing Special/Federal Funded workers.

Why hasn't the Bee reported on this since it affects thousands of workers in this area and a court timeline was posted in a Bee article the day after the Sept 30th scheduling conference?? SEIU's brief was excellent and makes very strong arguments GAS will have difficulty defending ...

We appreciate that users have high expectations of this blog when it comes to coverage of furlough litigation. The SEIU case got by us for a while. We certainly welcome any help that blog users can throw our way in keeping up with significant developments. Send an e-mail any time something develops in a case that you think we might have missed.

We'll be channeling information through the new furlough litigation spreadsheet that we launched last week. Click here to view it.

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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