The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 8, 2012
California Highway Patrol officers' union agrees to monthly furlough

For the first time, California's Highway Patrol officers are going to be furloughed.

The union reached an agreement at with Gov. Jerry Brown that furloughs Patrol officers 8 hours per month for one year starting July 1. Officers can bank the hours to take later, but their paychecks will reflect the 5 percent pay reduction regardless.

Department of Personnel Administration spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley confirmed the agreement. Jon Hamm, CEO of the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, said that the language of the deal encourages officers to take their banked furlough time before taking paid vacation.

The Brown administration had said that it wanted to avoid a policy that allowed banking furlough hours because that leads to employees taking less paid leave, creating a deferred cost for the state when the leave credits with monetary value are cashed out at the end of an employees' career.

Brown proposed putting most state workers on 9.5-hour shifts four days per week and closing departments on either Fridays or Mondays. Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Marty Morgenstern has said that the administration wants the workweek furlough or equivalent cuts of 5 percent negotiated in time for scoring in the budget, which lawmakers must pass by next Friday.

Until now, CAHP members had never been furloughed. Hamm said union members understand that they need to make a sacrifice, given the state's $15.7 billion budget crisis.

"Our members' reaction has been pretty positive (to the furlough)," Hamm said this afternoon. "I think this is sinking in. They're saying, 'I'm lucky to have a job.'"

The agreement will go to members for a ratification vote starting next week, Hamm said.

Thursday's CAHP agreement signals that other unions representing workers in 24/7 jobs -- prison officers, psychiatric technicians, firefighters and others -- are under pressure to take similar deals if they haven't already.

It may also complicate talks scheduled with other unions, including Saturday's scheduled negotiations with SEIU Local 1000, that center around Brown's plan instead of the arrangement worked out with CAHP.

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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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