The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 11, 2010
Union lobbyist: 'Illegal' pay cuts would 'do irreparable harm' to labor relations

The notion that lawmakers could enact state worker pay cuts without union input has prompted the California Labor Federation to weigh in with a letter to legislators that can be summed up in three words: Don't do it.

A few excerpts from federation lobbyist Caitlin Vega's letter:

... For more than thirty years, state employees have been covered by collective bargaining laws. Never before has the State attempted to suspend or violate those laws. Through Republican and Democratic administrations, collective bargaining has been respected and adhered to as an effective tool to promote cooperative labor relations and reach fair agreements ...

... The proposal to cut worker pay outside the collective bargaining process also conflicts with the law. The Dills Act, which authorized collective bargaining for state employees, requires the State to bargain over changes to employee compensation. To make such changes unilaterally is not only illegal, but will do irreparable harm to labor relations in this state.

This is not an academic argument. This is about real families who are depending on those wages, the health benefits, and the economic security the contract provides. Cutting worker pay in a recession will only cause more families to fall into poverty, add to the foreclosures, and increase reliance on the ever shrinking safety net ....

Click here to read the entire letter.

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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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