The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

January 11, 2013
Top 10 posts of 2012: Jerry Brown tells unions to brace for cuts

countdown 2.JPGThis is the latest in a series counting down this year's most-viewed State Worker blog posts, with a little hindsight analysis.

With California's economy slow to rebound, the Brown administration held a series of secret meetings in the warming days of May to tell state employee union leaders that cuts in his 2012-13 budget revision would include about $800 million from compensation costs.

Brown was confronting converging issues: The state budget deficit had grown since his January budget draft, which didn't include the payroll cuts. He wanted to voters to approve a tax hike measure and the effort would be made tougher if state employees were spared from the same fiscal ax he was applying to social services and schools.

Some state workers thought Brown's whispers to the unions were treasonous. Isn't he a Democrat? Hasn't he said that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furloughs were a bad idea? And now he's leaning on furloughs???

But eventually, 19 of 21 bargaining units negotiated a monthly furlough day with the administration. Lawmakers imposed the unpaid time off on two bargaining units that held out.

Furloughs are scheduled to end June 30 of this year and, since voters approved Brown's tax measure, the 2013-14 budget is in better shape. (Brown says there's no deficit. Others disagree.) The governor's new budget plan avoids extending any state employee compensation cuts into the next fiscal year.

Here's the post that some state workers thought they'd never see: Jerry Brown tells unions to brace for California state worker pay cuts

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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


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