The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

February 22, 2013
Unions argue their furloughed members deserve back pay

130222 Blanning.JPGUnions representing state scientists and engineers this week filed court papers arguing that Gov. Jerry Brown wrongly furloughed thousands of state workers and owes them millions of dollars in back pay.

At stake: an estimated $12 million in back pay a Sacramento judge ordered the state pay the combined 13,000 employees covered by the unions last year. Brown has appealed the decision.

"The well-reasoned and considered judgment of the trial court should be affirmed in its entirety," says the unions' response brief filed this week in San Francisco's 3rd District Court of Appeal.

Professional Engineers in California Government and California Association of Professional Scientists.successfully argued that Brown in 2011 reduced their members' hours and wages two days longer than the Legislature had authorized. The unions also persuaded Superior Court Judge Steven Brick that about 250 of their members are in line to get pay for all their lost wages -- up to 70 days -- because they should have been excluded from all furloughs. The policy started in 2009.

The administration says Brick relied on bad evidence and that Brown had the authority to execute the furloughs as he did. The appeal put a hold on the judge's back-pay order while the process plays out.

The unions' response this week dismisses the governor's arguments and restates their former criticisms.

Brown will soon file a response, That will close the briefing phrase of the appeal. Then the case will be assigned to a three-judge panel. They will decide whether to schedule a hearing or give the parties the option to skip it.

There's no deadline for a decision. The appellate courts run at their own pace. For example, all the paper in CAPS' holiday lawsuit appeal was filed in Sacramento's 3rd District Court more than a year ago.

Editor's note, Feb. 25, 1:58 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to PECG as the plaintiff in the holiday lawsuit.

PECG and CAPS v. Brown Furlough Answer Brief by

PHOTO: Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government. Randall Benton/Sacramento Bee

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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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