The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 3, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 members vote to accept furloughs

SEIU Local 1000 has announced that 65.76 percent of its members have approved a furlough agreement reached with Gov. Jerry Brown last month that assigns them them 12 unpaid days off over the fiscal year that started on Sunday.

The union announced the results on its website this morning, a day later than it had promised last week when it announced that members would have one day to vote at one of more than 80 polling places around the state. It did not release the raw tally of the votes in its announcement this morning.

"Because Local 1000 chose to negotiate with the governor rather than let our members be subject to imposed furloughs, we were able to achieve important solutions that went beyond a pay reduction in exchange for time off," Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said in a statement posted this morning on the union's website.

The agreement requires the state to purge its payroll of all student assistants and "non mission-critical" retired annuitants by Sept. 1. The state won't hire either again while Local 1000-covered workers are on furlough.

The deal also sets up a task force that will regularly review outsourced service contracts.

The vote affirms a cost-cutting move that the Brown administration estimates will save the state some $839 million, about $401 million of that payroll relief to the general fund. SEIU's agreement is key to achieving the savings because the union covers 93,000 employees, roughly half the state's unionized workforce.

Many state workers were angry when Brown figured those savings into his May budget revision, since they are under two- or three-year contracts that already included a year of furloughs and remain in effect through June of next year.

Some SEIU workers were particularly upset, thinking that Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker had privately assured Brown that she could deliver the pay cut. Walker said that she had suggested going to a four-day, 10-hours-per-day workweek which Brown "tweaked" to a 4/38 schedule. That essentially amounted to a two-hours-per-week furlough that reached the 5 percent pay cut the governor sought.

Eventually, Local 1000 negotiators pressed for a more conventional floating furlough day that cut state employees' monthly pay by nearly 5 percent but allowed some flexibility with when they took the time off. Several other unions had previously agreed to similar furloughs, including, for the first time, groups representing CHP officers and state fire fighters.

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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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