The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 4, 2010
For workers, good news and bad news in furlough ruling

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.

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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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