The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 6, 2010
Schwarzenegger sues, demanding Chiang pay minimum wage

The Schwarzenegger administration filed a new legal action today asking the Sacramento Superior Court to force Controller John Chiang to pay state employees minimum wage for this month if no state budget is enacted.

Chiang has said he will not comply with the governor's order to pay minimum wage for the July pay period. Filed by the Department of Personnel Administration and DPA Director Debbie Endsley, the action seeks to force Chiang to comply. It noted that the cut-off date to begin processing the July payroll is July 22.

It says the order is "urgently needed" to stop Chiang from paying full salaries.

"Unless restrained, Respondents will continue to illegally issue full salaries to state employees for every pay period in which no state budget or other available appropriation exists," the suit says. "Respondents must be enjoined from violating the law as soon as possible and prior its occurrence."

With legislative deliberations far from resolved over how to close an estimated $19.1 billion budget gap, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told Chiang last week to pay state employees the minimum until a budget is approved. Back pay would be made up later after the budget is approved.

As he did in 2008, Chiang has refused for several reasons, including concerns that the state's payroll technology and accounting methods make it impossible to comply without breaking federal labor law.

Sacramento Superior Court and the 3rd District Court of Appeal have both sided with Schwarzenegger in lawsuits that the governor brought in the 2008 budget impasse. Today's filing seeks to have the court enforce those decisions on Chiang.

Chiang last week said he would file his own action "to definitively resolve the issue of whether our current payroll system is capable of complying with the minimum-wage order in a way that protects taxpayers from billions of dollars in fines and penalties."

Read the Schwarzenegger administration's filing here.

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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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