The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

November 19, 2012
Jerry Brown administration files furlough appeal

100602 yolo county gavel.jpgA $12-million furlough lawsuit has entered its next phase with a formal appeal filed by Gov. Jerry Brown that seeks to overturn a lower court ruling against the administration.

The case, PECG v. Brown, affects some 13,000 state engineers and state scientists whose unions say were excessively furloughed two days last year. The matter also touches on about 250 members who the union says shouldn't have been furloughed a single day when the controversial policy launched in February 2009.

UPDATE: 13,000 California state workers win back pay in furlough lawsuit

An Alameda Superior Court judge last summer ruled that all PECG and CAPS members should receive two days of back pay as a remedy for two illegal furlough days imposed on them in March 2011. The court agreed with the unions' argument that since management didn't have to take those days off that their members shouldn't have either.

Judge Steven A. Brick also concluded that furloughing 255 scientists and engineers at the Department of Toxic Substance Control and the State Water Control Resources Board violated state law. Those workers handle hazardous substance management and remediation at military bases.

The case applies only to employees covered by Professional Engineers in California Government or California Association of Professional Scientists.

The brief filed by Brown administration contract attorney David Tyra last week says that the unions and the lower court got it all wrong.

Nothing in the laws cited in the Brick ruling limits the state's authority over employee compensation, as the unions had argued, nor did the furlough order overstep its legal scope, Tyra contends. And the trial court relied on "incompetent evidence" when it concluded that managers and union members had to lose the same number of hours and pay.

Click here to download the 53-page brief or read the embedded copy below. The unions will soon file their response, then the administration will file its rebuttal. All the briefing should be done by late January or early February.

Look for a court date to be set sometime next year, unless the two sides settle.

121119 PECG v Brown

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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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