The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 15, 2012
From the notebook: More reactions to Jerry Brown's California workweek plan

Thumbnail image for notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in today's Bee looks at Gov. Jerry Brown's prosposal to cut $401 million in general fund employee costs ($839 million all funds) by putting state employees on a 4/9.5 weekly furlough schedule.

We inerviewed several folks who didn't get into the final version of our story, including Bruce Blanning, executive director of the state's engineers' union and Tim Yeung, a Sacramento-based labor attorney.

Here are some highlights of our discussions with both men:

Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government:

On his reaction to Brown's plan:

If you have a big budget deficit, does it really make sense to cut the pay of working men and women? Eliminate no-bid contracts and then let's see where we're at. The governor needs to take those steps first, stop wasting money and then talk about what needs to be done after that.

On whether Professional Engineers in Government is willing to bargain the workweek issue:

We want to look at it first and see if it even needs to be done. With our members, if you cut their compensation, it doesn't help the general fund any. It would be nice if they focused on the problem instead of hitting everyone generally.

Tim Yeung, partner, Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP and former labor attorney for the Department of Personnel Administration:

On whether Brown's plan is a furlough:

I guess it's not that much different. The end result is the same: Employees work 95 percent of their regular hours and receive 95 percent of their regular pay. This is not a particularly out-of-the-box idea. It's a spinoff of furloughs.

On what local governments are doing to cut employee compensation costs:

More aggressive employers are just reducing salaries. A lot of places have talked about pay cuts and stopping COLAs. Many are having employees pay a larger share of pension costs. They're doing this because at some point you can't cut services any more.

On whether Brown's plan is tough on state workers:
It's fairly union-friendly. (Brown) is taking something but he's giving something back (the three-day weekend). It could have been worse.

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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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