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.
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.