The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

September 22, 2011
San Francisco court could rule on key furlough cases any time

100602 yolo county gavel.jpgSeveral State Worker blog users have asked about the status of two furlough cases in San Francisco's 1st District Court of Appeal. The short answer: The court could issue rulings in either case any day now.

CCPOA v. Brown (formerly CCPOA v. Schwarzenegger) is the government's appeal of a lower court's ruling that "self-directed" furloughs are an illegal pay cut, since employees lost their pay but were often forced to put off taking the commensurate time off.

Attorneys argued the case on Aug. 18. Legal types we've spoken with believe that this is the strongest of the union furlough cases, since it's about whether the policy violated labor law.

That's different from the argument debated before the appellate court in California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment v. Schwarzenegger. The Brown administration wants the justices to overturn a lower court's decision that employees in so-called "special fund" departments were illegally furloughed.

The government has already won two similar appeals of lower-court losses to the Union of American Physicians and Dentists and SEIU Local 1000.

We noted on our State Worker Facebook wall after the court's Sept. 1 hearing that the justices asked virtually no questions of either side, a strong indication that its decision will probably line up with those other two.

The appellate court has 90 days from the date of the oral arguments to issue decisions.

Our guess: Look for the special funds decision first, since it will probably mirror earlier rulings and probably is less likely to be taken by the state Supreme Court. (The special fund rulings so far have leaned on the high court's landmark PECG v. Schwarzenegger to overturn the unions' earlier wins.)

The CCPOA matter may take longer for a ruling because the case is unique and the likelihood of an appeal by either side is greater. The PECG decision didn't specifically address the self-directed furlough policy.

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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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