The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 24, 2010
Chiang's next moves in minimum-wage case

We've received several e-mails from State Worker blog users laying out this scenario:

Let's say in the next few days that Controller John Chiang loses his appeal to overturn the Gilb v. Chiang, the court decision that he overstepped his bounds in 2008 by refusing to issue minimum wage checks to state workers.

Then 2010-11 budget talks drag past the June 30 end of the fiscal year. The Department of Personnel Administration then issues pay letters that instruct Chiang to withhold state workers' pay to the minimum allowed by federal law.

Then what? Would the controller go ahead and issue full-wage checks anyway? We asked Chiang spokesman Jacob Roper that question. Here's what he said:

First, back up a bit. Once the court rules, and assuming Chiang loses, "the controller would make a decision on whether to appeal," Roper said.

It's also possible that the 3rd District Court wouldn't decide anything about some aspects of the case, such as Chiang's assertion that it's impossible, because of the way the state processes payroll, to execute a minimum wage order, the so-called "infeasibility argument."

"It's very possible that the court will question infeasibility as not before them, which would mean it would be left to argue another day," Roper said. That would leave an opportunity for more action in a lower court and leave Chiang an opening to argue for maintaining the status quo while the matter is litigated.

But Roper veered away from committing Chiang to paying state workers full July wages if the appellate court decides against him and the Schwarzenegger administration issues pay reduction instructions: "The controller would decide what to do after reviewing the district court's ruling."

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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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