The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 28, 2010
Litigation over third furlough order sent back to trial court

100609 gavel.jpgThe 1st District Court of Appeal has lifted an decision that stopped union challenges to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's last furlough order, referring the matter to Alameda Superior Court for more litigation as that court "may deem appropriate."

The matter landed in the appellate court after Judge Steven. A. Brick's Aug. 8 ruling that Schwarzenegger couldn't relaunch three-days-per-month furloughs for roughly 144,000 state workers because the order violated state laws.

The governor quickly asked the appellate court to put a hold on the lower court's decision and allow furloughs to proceed. The appellate court denied that request, but the California Supreme Court, which by then was knee deep in furlough litigation, took the case and then allowed furloughs to resume.

On Oct. 4 the high court ruled that Schwarzenegger's 2009 furloughs were illegal but that the Legislature tacitly approved them in subsequent budget legislation. It didn't rule on the latest furlough case, however, and in November returned the matter to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

Now the appellate court has passed the case -- which is actually a consolidation of lawsuits by Professional Engineers in California Government, SEIU Local 1000 and six other employee groups -- back down to the Alameda court. (Click here for a list of all the parties involved.)

It's not clear whether either side should take heart from the appellate court's action, but you can be certain that there's more litigation ahead.

Just don't count on SEIU Local 1000 to be part of the proceedings. Its new contract accepted the last round of furloughs from August through October.

Here's the appellate court's instructions to the trial court:

In light of (1) the California Supreme Court's decision in Professional Engineers in California Government v. Schwarzenegger (S183411, October 4, 2010), (2) the enactment of the Budget Act of 2010, (3) the motion filed by plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court on October 26, 2010, and (4) any other potentially relevant development, the temporary restraining order that is the subject of the appeal in this action is vacated and the matter is remanded to the superior court for such further proceedings as the superior court may deem appropriate in light of these intervening developments.

Click here to read the appellate court docket, which shows the up-and-down history of the case.

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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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