The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 15, 2012
Two more agencies say they'll pay furlough back wages

Solidarity isn't just a union concept.

Nearly all current and former employees of the California Housing Finance Agency and the California State Lottery will receive back pay for wages lost to furloughs, officials now say.

Two other so-called "off-budget" agencies said the same thing earlier today. None of the payments will come from the state's general fund and -- this is key -- the Legislature doesn't appropriate money for their budgets.

Russ Lopez, the Lottery's deputy director of communications. The agency is still figuring out how many of its 644 current employees are in line for furlough back pay. Lottery retirees and other former staff furloughed during their time with the agency will have money coming to them.

The payments "aren't going to happen overnight,"
Lopez said.

Cal HFA has the same accounting challenge. The agency employs about 260 staff who support its mission to provide home financing and housing programs for low- and moderate-income Californians. Spokeswoman Melissa Flores said that her agency last year set aside "just under $4 million" to cover back payment costs, but hasn't yet determined how many current and former employees were affected by furloughs.

Nine Cal HFA employees represented by Professional Engineers in California Government won't received the back pay, Flores said, because their union is continuing to fight furloughs in court.

The decision by the Lottery and Cal HFA to pay furlough back wages means that four of five off-budget agencies that settled furlough litigation with SEIU Local 100 and the state attorney's union have now said publicly that they are extending the back-pay provisions of the settlements to all their affected employees and retirees.

Click here to read about similar decisions made by leaders at the state's Prison Industry Authority and the First 5 California Commission. The post includes more background on the union settlements that set the precedent for the payments now extended to all employees.

The fifth off-budget agency, the California Earthquake Authority, hasn't yet responded to our inquiry whether it will follow the other four off-budget agencies, but we expect it will.

The agency's attitude about furloughs is well known: During one heated courtroom debate, CEA's lawyer said of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration and furloughs that "These guys are making it up as they go along,"

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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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