Labor leaders today were disappointed by the California Supreme Court's endorsement of past state worker furloughs but pleased by the court's reasoning: The court found Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had no unilateral authority to order furloughs, but that the unpaid days off were legal only because the Legislature tacitly endorsed them.
That means future governors will be restrained from ordering furloughs for union-represented workers unless they are specifically authorized in the labor contract or by the Legislature.
"We look at is as a mixed ruling," said Chris Voight, staff director of the California Association of Professional Scientists.
The court left in question the legality of the latest round of furloughs, which Schwarzenegger ordered in August. The matter could be resolved this week, when the Legislature considers a budget deal.
Gerald James, a lawyer for the Professional Engineers in California Government and the California Association of Professional Scientists, said that if lawmakers do not bless the latest furloughs, the unions could litigate to be reimbursed for employees' most-recent unpaid days off.