The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 8, 2011
A.M. Reading: Furlough price tag; Wa. retirees who get paychecks; looking for 'Wisconsin 14'

Welcome to your Tuesday roundup of state employee news from California and around the country, including a piece on how furloughs have affected Corrections ... Washington state's crackdown on state workers who get a state pension and a full-time paycheck ... "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" goes in search of the "Wisconsin 14."

Result of furloughs - $1 billion liability: Prison guards, supervisors rack up millions of hours in paid time off
California prison guards and their supervisors have racked up 33.2 million hours of vacation, sick and other paid time off - an astounding accumulation that amounts to nearly half a year per worker.

Viewpoints: All labor has stake in Wisconsin standoff
Autoworkers sat down to win collective bargaining rights during a cold Flint winter in February 1937. For the last few weeks, 14 Wisconsin state senators have been sitting in motel rooms somewhere in Illinois to preserve those rights for public workers. In both cases, thousands of supporters braved the cold in solidarity. Flint was a watershed moment; Wisconsin could clearly become one. What are the stakes?

Jerry Brown makes deal with lawyers' union
Gov. Jerry Brown and the union representing the state's attorneys and other legal professionals on Monday night reached a tentative contract agreement with immediate pay and pension concessions and a few gains for labor.

Brown's countdown, Day 58: Republicans declare impasse in budget talks with Brown
Gov. Jerry Brown's prospects of reaching a budget deal by his deadline this week dimmed markedly Monday when a quintet of Republicans with whom he'd been negotiating declared an impasse.

WA Senate passes Hewitt bill to rein in state's 'retire-rehire' policy
The state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 5852, a measure sponsored by Sen. Mike Hewitt that would end a policy allowing state workers to collect a state pension and a full-time paycheck at the same time.

They'll sing for their coffee
State workers know the value of a good cup of Joe. Fueled by a desire to keep the gourmet coffee flowing at Café Ole on Warren Street, a handful of musically inclined state workers are throwing a benefit concert to help the café's owner repay loans incurred during a financial crisis last fall. The New Jersey State Workers Got Talent show, scheduled for Thursday at the Trenton Marriott Downtown on W. Lafayette Street, will help café owner Kit Rivenburg pay off debt owed to friends, customers and creditors.

Taxes, pensions top Chafee's list
Governor Chafee began the sales pitch for his first multibillion-dollar state budget proposal in a series of private meetings with House and Senate leaders on Monday, the day before he airs it publicly. And as he did so, more and more details emerged.

OUR OPINION: Learn from Utah's hybrid pension plan
Might there be a middle ground between keeping North Dakota's pension plan as-is and eliminating it entirely for new hires?

Hundreds gather in statehouse for public hearing on Iowa's labor law
Hundreds of union workers crowded into the Iowa House chamber, into four separate meeting rooms in the state capital and onto three floors of the open "rotunda" area the runs through the center of the building Monday night. A union rally was staged in the statehouse just before a public hearing there about a bill that would make changes in Iowa's labor law.

House passes final budget-related bill
The New Mexico House shifted the dollars-and-cents debate to the Senate on Monday when it passed the final piece of legislation in a package of state budget-related bills. ... The legislation would require state workers and public school teachers to contribute more into their retirement systems - 3.25 percent more, to be exact. The savings to the state, if the measure passes, is estimated at around $100 million for the year that starts July 1. The amount the state must pay into the retirement systems would decrease by the same amount produced by the increased employee contributions.

Union Myths
The biggest myth about labor unions is that unions are for workers. Unions are for unions, just as corporations are for corporations and politicians are for politicians.

Labor Unions Are Not Optional
In the few weeks since conservatives took the U.S. House and numerous state governments, union busting seems like it's become the new national sport.

Wisconsin Watch

Daily Show: Oliver - Searching for the Wisconsin 14
John Oliver bravely journeys into Illinois' savage, frozen territory to track down the missing 14 Democratic state senators.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Searching for the Wisconsin 14
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Walker blames unions for standoff

War of words escalates

How Scott Walker ignited a labor renaissance

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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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