Another union furlough argument fell Monday when San Francisco's 1st District Court of Appeal told a trial court to change a favorable ruling to an unfavorable one against the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which had claimed the policy as carried out for its members was an illegal pay cut.
The appellate court's decision in Brown v. Superior Court of Alameda County was a blow to the union whose 32,000 or so members stood to collectively gain millions of dollars -- no one is sure exactly how much -- in back pay and interest had the decision gone the other way. CCPOA says that it is deciding its next move in a case that stretches back more than two years.
CCPOA did win that argument in Alameda County Superior Court, claiming that "self-directed" furloughs -- which cut a prison officer's pay but deferred his or her corresponding time off -- violated state laws, including its minimum wage statute.
The appellate court action bogged down while attorneys for the union and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger argued over whether the trial court decision could be appealed and while other litigation that examined furlough authority and furlough process took the legal limelight.
After a lot of legal wrangling (click here for a refresher), the court decided that it would take the case and oral arguments in August. Appellate court Justice James A. Richman wrote Monday's decision, with Justices J. Anthony Kline and James R. Lambden concurring. In essence, they said earlier court decisions that affirmed the legality of furloughs applied in this case, too.
The justices also rejected CCPOA's argument that deferring the time off was an illegal pay cut, since there's no deadline for redeeming the time off. And arguing that officers worked for free in violation of minimum wage law, is "premature," according to the court, because that can't be litigated until someone leaves service with furlough time on the books. The justices ordered the trial court to recall its order in favor of CCPOA and issue a new order denying the union's petition.
On its website, CCPOA said that it's reviewing its options. It could appeal to the California Supreme Court or it could decide not to challenge the appellate court's ruling.
1st District Court of Appeal ruling: Brown v. Superior Court of Alameda County