The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 23, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 reaches tentative furlough agreement with Jerry Brown

California's largest public employees' union has tentatively agreed to accept furlough terms that will reduce employee pay by 5 percent starting July 1, but Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to accomplish the savings with a shortened workweek isn't part of the deal.

Service Employees International Union Local 1000's deal with Brown, announced just a few minutes ago, accepts 12 unpaid leave days over the next 12 months. Although employees' paychecks will show the monthly hit on their wages, they have some flexibility to schedule the time off.

The agreement doesn't affect any other aspect of Local 1000's current contract, including a scheduled 3 percent raise for top-step employees scheduled for July 1, 2013.

The union said members will have a chance to vote on the agreement on Wednesday at one of about 100 polling places set up around the state. The results of the vote will be announced July 2.

Brown also gave Local 1000 two items on its wish list, agreeing to terminate all but the most essential state retired annuitants and student assistants and to set up a task force on state outsourcing.

Departments will have until Sept. 1 to purge retirees and students from their payrolls, with exemptions only for those whose jobs are deemed "mission critical." The state won't hire either during the 12-month furlough period for SEIU-covered workers.

Last year, about $110 million of the state's $15 billion payroll went to roughly 5,800 retirees who drew a pension and a paycheck, according to a Bee review of data from the state controller's office. The state employed about 1,600 student assistants in 2011, paying them a total of $13.4 million.

Those figures don't include employees in either the California State or University of California systems. Brown's authority doesn't extend to either system, nor does Local 1000 cover workers in either system.

In May, the governor suggested putting most state workers on 9.5-hour shifts, 38 hours per week. Departments would have closed every Monday or Friday, giving their employees longer weekends. But with Local 1000 representing half the state's unionized workers, the floating furlough agreement announced today means the four-day plan workweek is dead.

Walker said that Brown's idea was a "tweak" of her suggestion that the state adopt a 4/10 workweek to save money on operational costs.

But the logistics of longer workdays didn't go over well with many rank-and-file employees who worried about fatigue and lost productivity, child care and how the state would interact with federal or local agencies and private businesses that keep a standard workweek schedule.

Many employees rejected the notion of a pay cut as a matter of principle, since the union is under contract, and pleaded with Walker to avoid negotiating one with Brown.

Some suggested that Local 1000 refuse to compromise and force lawmakers to spend the time and effort on legislatively imposing a pay reduction that the union could fight in court. That door is now closed, assuming SEIU's voting members OK the agreement.

The budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year that starts on Sunday assumes $839 million in state employee payroll savings, about $401 million of that from the $92 billion general fund. SEIU is the seventh labor group to reach a furlough agreement. The others include unions representing correctional officers, fire fighters, CHP officers, psychiatric technicians, skilled crafts workers, maintenance and equipment managers and doctors and dentists.

Four groups haven't agreed to a pay reduction. They represent state attorneys and administrative law judges, engineers in Caltrans and a handful of other departments, park rangers and wardens, and operating engineers.

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The Bee's Phillip Reese contributed to this report.

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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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