The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 10, 2010
From the notebook: Read the Wong-Martinusen memo

"From the notebook" blog posts give you the notes, quotes and details that inform news stories that we write for The Sacramento Bee.

Our story in today's Bee references a internal memo written by Controller John Chiang's Chief of Staff, Collin Wong-Martinusen, that lays out the possible financial and legal repercussions if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger successfully orders state worker pay withheld to the federal minimum.

We confirmed with the controller's office that Wong-Martinusen wrote the unsigned document, which was issued on plain paper and sent to state labor leaders.

The memo speculates on a worst-case outcome of Chiang's appeal of a trial court decision that he lacks the authority to reject DPA pay letters to temporarily withhold employee wages during a budget impasse. The appeal is set for oral arguments in the 3rd District Court of Appeal on June 21, nine days before the end of the fiscal year.

And at the end of the memo, Wong-Martinusen suggests reaching out to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and get her read on whether a minimum wage order violates of the Federal Labor Standards Act. Solis was one of more than two dozen California Congressional representatives who opposed withholding state employee wages during the 2008 budget impasse.

Around the same time the memo was circulated, SEIU Local 1000 told its members to brace themselves for a temporary pay reduction.

Click here to read the memo.

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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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