The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 23, 2010
State issues memo on furloughs, minimum wage

Department of Personnel Administration Director Debbie Endsley has sent a memo to all California state agencies that lays out the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's position on furloughs (they're over ... for now) and the possibility of employee pay being withheld to minimum wage (he'll do it if there's no budget).

The latter assumes, of course, that the 3rd District Court of Appeals doesn't overturn a lower court ruling that State Controller John Chiang overstepped his authority by refusing to implement a similar wage withholding order during the 2008-09 budget impasse.

Here's the memo, which at least some agencies are forwarding to their workers:

Here's an update on the furlough and minimum wage situations.

With respect to furloughs, the current program ends June 30, and the Administration expects the State to resume normal hours of operation in July. The Governor's budget proposal includes four proposals to reduce employee compensation costs: a wage cut, one day per month of unpaid leave, increased employee contributions to pensions, and the workforce cap. The Governor retains the right and authority to order furloughs if necessary to address a fiscal and cash crisis.

As for the prospect of state workers receiving minimum wage in lieu of full wages, it will depend on when the Legislature and the Governor reach a budget agreement. The California Supreme Court ruled in 2003 (White v. Davis) that absent an appropriation, which for most of the payroll comes through the annual state budget, the Controller is prohibited from paying state workers beyond what is required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Absent a state budget, we will send instructions to the Controller to pay wages in accordance with the FLSA for the July pay period.

The four unions that recently reached tentative agreements on new contracts (CHP officers, firefighters, psychiatric technicians, and some medical professionals) would not be subject to any new furlough program or minimum wage payments, assuming their contracts are ratified in a timely manner.

Debbie Endsley

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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 jortiz@sacbee.com.

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