The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 11, 2010
Should SEIU have pressed for no furloughs for SCIF workers?

Victor Szendi, a steward in DLC 749 of SEIU Local 1000, believes that the union's new contract stiffed State Compensation Insurance Fund employees by failing to arrange a side agreement to exempt them from furloughs. Szendi is a claims representative at the fund.

Here's the background: CASE first won a lawsuit that argued furloughs at State Fund violated state insurance code.

SEIU wanted no part of the litigation since it carved out special status for state workers based on workplace instead of union representation. Union President Yvonne Walker criticized CASE for its lawsuit and for what she said set a "dangerous tone" that undercut organized labor.

After coming under severe criticism, however, SEIU tried to piggyback on the CASE ruling and get Local 1000 employees at State Fund included in the CASE decision.

When that didn't work, SEIU sued and won, which created another problem: explaining why it went to bat for a select group of employees.

Now the pendulum is swinging back, with Szendi and other State Fund employees like him upset that the the new SEIU contract imposes unpaid days off on them when they have been receiving full pay and hours because of the court decision.

Here's Szendi's e-mail, unedited. The views expressed are his own. He does not speak for his employer or his union.

Sent: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 8:07 AM
To: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Subject: Re: About SEIU Contract

JO,

As you know State Fund won a number of victories in court against the furloughs. This happened because State Fund is like no other state or quasi-state agency. It is governed by the rules of the California Insurance Code, and only the California Legislature has plenary powers over State Fund.

The great majority of State Fund employees feel that SEIU "sold them out" by not providing a "side-letter" in the contract negotiations to exempt them from furloughs (PLP), as a continuation of the court order. State Fund union stewards and most employees decided that the only course of action for them to have some say in their future and direction is to separate themselves from SEIU through the process of decertification. This will be commenced in the very near future and will probably take a year. State Fund employees are fed up with the pitiful union representation and leadership. Remember that State Fund and its employees are a well educated, professional, highly skilled and unique workforce who do not fit the SEIU "mold".

Also, this morning it has been brought to my attention that State Fund was exempted from furloughs by the court. PLP (personal leave plan) that the union negotiated is a furlough regardless what name is placed on it. Therefore, the union violated the court exemption for State Fund. It was suggested that they return to the court and request the judge to reaffirm this and forcing a side letter for State Fund employees exempting them from the PLP and pay reduction.

Victor Szendi, MBA, JD cand
Steward, DLC 749
Claims Representative

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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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