Sacramento Democrat Richard Pan's proposal, Assembly Bill 906, tacks those provisions on to existing laws intended to protect state civil service jobs.
Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers
March 11, 2013
With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.
Our State Worker column in today's Bee notes that Professional Engineeers in California Government filed a grievance triggered by furloughs started in July. The union claims that the Brown administration violated the PECG contract by suggesting a 2012-13 budget that funds only 95 percent of their members' wages.
The then-Department of Personnel Administration (now dubbed the Department of Human Resources), said that the June 4 grievance was "premature" because it was filed before the July 1 start of furloughs so that no union members had suffered a loss.
The administration also said that Brown was acting in his role as governor in presenting a budget plan, not as the state's employer. Therefore, the administration said, Brown didn't violate the union's contract.
PECG attorney Gerald James asked for arbitration to keep the association's options open, but hasn't pushed the matter any further, union spokesman Ryan Endean said Wednesday.
July 31, 2012
The California Faculty Association reached a tentative agreement on faculty contracts with the California State University Friday, after nearly two years of contentious negotiations. The agreement was announced by both sides Tuesday.
The tentative deal does not include raises. The issue can be re-opened next year if the budget improves. The deal provides some protections for lecturers that the union sought.
The agreement covers 23,000 employees on the 23 CSU campuses. The CFA has urged its members to ratify the agreement. The tentative agreement will be effective after ratification by CFA members and the CSU Board of Trustees.
Lillian Taiz, the association's president, said 50 percent of members who vote would have to vote in favor of the agreement for it to go into effect. She said the vote will happen Aug. 13-30 and members will be provided with many materials to help them understand the agreement.
"It's a matter at this point of whether the members chose to ratify it," Taiz said.
The results of the vote will be announced Sept. 3.
The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association has made a furlough deal with Gov. Jerry Brown, leaving only two of the state's 21 bargaining units that have not agreed to a pay cut.
The side-letter deal with CSLEA, inked on Wednesday, mirrors others that have come in in recent days. Workers will take a 4.62 percent pay cut and be furloughed 12 days over the next year.
Only two units -- Professional Engineers in California Government and the International Union of Operating Engineers -- have yet to make a deal.
Here's a copy of the side letter that SEIU Local 1000 members will consider on Wednesday. It provides for a 4.62 percent pay cut, paring down of retired annuitants and a labor-administration committee to review contracts, among other things.
SEIU Local 1000 negotiators resumed bargaining with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration this morning, and are seeking cuts in outsourcing and ending the use of retired annuitants and student employees as conditions to accept a pay reduction.
The union said in a memo to members on its website that negotiators also want "maximum flexibility" for employees to take unpaid time off to meet Brown's goal to cut workers' hours and pay by 5 percent. The governor has suggested achieving the savings by putting state workers into a four-day workweek schedule of 9.5 hours per day, but is open to alternatives.
PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown / 2010 Sacramento Bee file, Hector Amezcua
With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, most of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.
Let's be clear: Gov. Jerry Brown's 4/9.5 furlough workweek isn't a done deal.
So said Julie Chapman, the Department of Personnel Administration's acting director, during an interview that informed today's State Worker column on the long-term cost of furloughs.
As the state's top labor negotiator, Chapman said Wednesday that she is "in discussions with the unions" about how to get the 5 percent pay reduction that Brown has proposed for all 214,000 state workers under his authority.
But the talks aren't strictly about the compressed workweek idea. Union representatives have suggested "many different things," Chapman said, although she wasn't specific.
"The administration is looking to get 5 percent savings, bottom line" on employee costs, Chapman said.
Brown's four-day workweek plan would cut state payroll about $839 million in fiscal 2012-13, the administration estimates, with about $401 million of that savings to the general fund.
Jerry Brown's furlough plan would drain Sacramento economy
Live chat replay: Assessing four-day workweek plan for state workers
Poll: Should unionized California state workers get a vote on Jerry Brown's furlough plan?
Poll: What do you think of Jerry Brown's four-day workweek idea?
Jerry Brown's budget proposes longer days, shorter weeks for state workers
PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown / 2010 Sacramento Bee file, Hector Amezcua
March 15, 2012
California has received a "D-" for spending transparency from an organization that lobbies for governement openness.
The California Public Interest Research Group and its national counterpart, USPIRG, issued the grade on Wednesday, just days after another government transparency advocate rated the state's Internet portal among the nation's best for access to information.
The assessment of California's accessibility is part of a larger USPIRG study of all 50 states' government websites, "Following the Money 2012: Online Access to Government Spending Data."
California's poor showing comes in the middle of "Sunshine Week," a national initiative to highlight the importance of open government and freedom of information. Only six states ranked scored worse: New Hampshire, Wyoming, Iowa, Arkansas, Montana and Idaho.
In a statement accompanying the report's release on Wednesday, CalPERG took California to task for dismantling a state spending transparency website last year. The administration said at the time that transparency.ca.gov -- which was launched by former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- duplicated information available elsewhere online.
Top-ranking states, according to the USPIRG report, include Texas, Kentucky and Indiana.
Wednesday's report contrasts sharply with a recent assessment by the nonprofit Sunshine Review, which ranked the Golden State's ca.gov website among the nation's best government websites for access to information.
CALPIRG belongs to national network of groups that promote themselves as public advocates.
March 8, 2012
KQED's "Forum with Michael Krasney" this morning will look at the costs and benefits of government privatization and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson's "Public Employees Bill of Rights." Along with Dickinson, D-Sacramento, the show's guests include Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the Reason Foundation; Donald Cohen, chair of In the Public Interest and Robert Smith, reporter for Planet Money. The State Worker has been invited to join the discussion too.
March 5, 2012
Here are some sources that informed our story on Assemblyman Roger Dickinson's "Public Employees Bill of Rights," specifically its provision to give state rank-and-file employees first crack at state work.
California Government Code Section 19130-19135, which lays out the rules for state outsourcing.
Assembly Bill 1655, the "Public Employees Bill of Rights."
The Bureau of State Audits 2009 report on illegitimate contracting at the Department of Health Care Services and the Department of Public Health.
The Feb. 21 prepared statement on private contracting by Dr. Stuart Bussey, president of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists to the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Administration.
"The Hidden Branch of Government," SEIU Local 1000's latest installment on state outsourcing costs.
And below we've embedded data pulled from the Department of General Services' State Contract & Procurement Registration System for the first two months of this year.
(For more specific descriptions of specific contracts, click the second tab on the bottom of the spreadsheet and scroll right to the "Item Description" column. What even more? The eight-digit numbers in the far right column conform to the United Nations Standard Products and Services Code. Click here to open a search engine that lets you plug in the numbers to get a description of of the goods or services that the state purchased.)
November 11, 2011
The Department of Personnel Administration earlier this week posted the contract addenda on realignment for the last three unions to sign agreements. The arrangements are intended to streamline the transfer process for Corrections and Rehabilitation employees and cut the department's cost as it downsizes.
Click the links below to download the documents:
CalPERS will begin metal detection and x-ray screening of visitors and their personal items during next week's three-day board meeting at the fund's Sacramento headquarters, according to an emailed memo issued Monday:
Increasing security measures during Board meetings is an important part of enhancing security at Lincoln Plaza. Visitor screening is a standard practice at other public meetings such as the Sacramento City Council, San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Los Angeles City Council and implementing these new security measures for Board meetings is also consistent with the recommendations made by our security consultant.
CalPERS also is contracting with the California Highway Patrol for board meeting security.
The memo, which you can read here, notes that the fund has been giving more attention to facility security for the last year. Fund spokesman Brad Pacheco told The State Worker that the new measures will cost about $150,000 per year, plus a bit more to install cameras in the auditorium where the board holds meetings.
"It's important in today's environment that we take these extra precautionary steps to protect our employees and visitors to our meetings," Pacheco said.
PHOTO: CalPERS Sacramento headquarters. File photo / Sacramento Bee
April 12, 2011
Our story in today's Bee looks at recent office moves planned by Board of Equalization members Jerome Horton and George Runner. Horton's intended move from the 9th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower to a top spot on the same building's 25th story is dead. Runner's move from the Wells Fargo Center to the Bank of the West Tower is on, after he cut costs and spread payments for part of the upgrades over four years of the eight-year lease.
After you've read the story for context, check out these documents for more details about the Horton plan:
Building improvement costs for the 25th floor of the U.S. Bank Tower
The Feb. 24 e-mail from Patti Joseph, DGS' Sacramento leasing manager, raising questions about the cost of the office space improvements. Includes Feb. 28 response from Liz Houser, BOE deputy director of administration that costs are reasonable and the improvements are "necessary for program operations."
The Mar. 10 e-mail from Houser that says the improvement costs are "not acceptable."
The unexecuted lease that the state declined to sign for the top floor space at U.S. Bank Tower.
We'll post some Runner documents later.
Professional Engineers in California Government has fired off a letter to legislative leaders arguing that ending furloughs for its members and cutting back on outsourcing would save the state more money than the 10 percent employee payroll reduction that Gov. Jerry Brown wants unions to accept.
This letter to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez from union President Matt Hanson says that PECG negotiators presented its idea to Brown's Department of Personnel Administration on Mar. 2.
PECG estimates its proposal would save $336 million, or about $80 million more than DPA's savings target. Apparently the plan went nowhere with DPA, hence Hanson's letter, which concludes:
"In finalizing the State Budget for the upcoming fiscal year, PECG encourages the Legislature, as well as DPA and the Brown Administration, to include this proposal to achieve savings beyond its goals and to eliminate furloughs for Special Fund employees in engineering and related classifications."
The union attached a breakdown of the math behind PECG's proposal. Click here to view it.
DPA spokesman David Gay declined to comment, since the administration is in talks with PECG and doesn't talk about ongoing labor negotiations.
The union is one of six state employee labor groups working under the terms of expired contracts. Brown wants to negotiate $308 million in 2011-12 payroll reductions with those unions, which represent about 63,000 state workers. PECG covers about 11,000 employees.
State personnel chief Ron Yank told legislators this morning that the Brown administration is offering six state bargaining units without a contract "pretty much the same" deal that former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reached with other unions.
"It's a tough sell," Yank told a joint hearing of the Assembly and Senate public employees' committees. "We can't give them more than Gov. Schwarzenegger gave other groups. That's a tough pill for them to swallow."
Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget counts on $308 million in savings by reaching similar deals with the six unions working without contracts. Those unions represent 63,000 employees including state lawyers, correctional officers, scientists and engineers.
The deals Schwarzenegger reached last year generally imposed one unpaid day off per month, required higher employee pension contributions and set lower pension benefit formulas for new hires.
February 15, 2011
The Bee reported last week that about 25 percent of the 54,000 or so state wireless lines audited so far were unused in December at a cost to government of more than $300,000.
The state Office of Technology has been looking at the issue for more than a year, long before Gov. Jerry Brown said he wanted departments to cut their phone inventories by 50 percent. The results, according to Validas, a Texas-based a mobility service advising firm, was $2.6 million saved from using wireless devices more efficiently and negotiating lower-priced rates.
Here's the Validas report:
State of California Wireless Savings Report: January 27, 2011
February 9, 2011
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees says that California should find new "revenue opportunities" and could save more than $34 billion per year by dumping private contractors who do jobs that government employees could do for less.
"That's the amount that Sacramento spends every year paying private contractors to do jobs that civil servants can perform for roughly half the cost," says AFSCME's press release, which was issued this morning.
AFSCME says it culled those ideas and others from surveying the 180,000 workers it represents in various levels of California government. The union now wants to form "workplace-level, labor-management efficiency teams" to find and capture ways for government to save money.
Besides raising revenues and curtailing outside contracts, AFSCME says government should do more of the following:
January 10, 2011
Gov. Jerry Brown's 2011-12 budget proposal provides for an "ongoing augmentation" of nearly $400 million that would go to "fully fund the salary and wages of authorized Correctional Officers, Sergeants, and Lieutenants, which is critical to ensuring that the adult institutions have the resources to pay security staff."
The deal also calls for tighter financial accounting from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
It's not clear whether the $395 million augmentation assumes a pay reduction for corrections staff like the one unpaid day per month in SEIU Local 1000's contract. The Bee's budget guru, Kevin Yamamura, has left a message with the Department of Finance to find out. We'll let you know what Finance says.
The money also would pay for "swing space beds," empty beds at prisons that allow for the flexible transfer of inmates from facility to facility. Swing space beds figure into staffing levels at prisons.
The Schwarzenegger administration virtually eliminated empty swing space beds and the staffing that went with them. But, Brown's budget says:
November 6, 2010
Our story in today's Bee looks at the deal worked out to allow federally appointed prison medical receiver J. Clark Kelso to keep his state employee status while working at the pleasure of U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson.
The story explains how Kelso is a consultant to the Administrative Office of the Courts for payroll purposes. The arrangement allows him to maintain independence from the executive and legislative branches of government -- key to his role as the federal appointee tasked with reforming the state's prison medical system -- while continuing his membership in CalPERS as a state employee.
Click here to read several documents that informed this story, including the receiver's employment agreement between the Administrative Office of the Courts and the nonprofit California Prison Health Care Receivership Corp., Henderson's order appointing Kelso as the receiver, Kelso's biography and two letters from Henderson to the AOC about the deal.
One of Kelso's former employees, Linda Buzzini, asked CalPERS to count her employment as a receivership staff attorney toward her CalPERS pension. The fund denied her request. This link downloads CalPERS' 10-page response, which was copied to Kelso and CalPERS CEO Anne Stausboll.
November 4, 2010
A month ago, the court unanimously ruled that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't have authority to force state workers to take time off without pay. But, the court said, the Legislature does have that power and tacitly conferred it on Schwarzenegger with budgets that approved the policy.
Since the ruling didn't take effect until now, the administration continued furloughs. The Legislature then approved a 2010-11 budget explicitly and retroactively deputizing the governor to furlough employees whose unions don't have contracts.
Click here to see the court's notice of remittitur on the docket, which signals the official close of the case.
August 19, 2010
The Department of Personnel Administration has retained a second law firm to handle furlough litigation.
Hanson Bridgett has a contract capped at $500,000. That's in addition to the $1.75 million contract the administration has with Sacramento-based Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard of Sacramento.
DPA tells us that Hanson Bridgett, which has offices in San Francisco, was brought in due to the proliferation of furlough litigation in Bay Area courts.
We've asked DPA for a copy of the Hanson contract. The funds to pay Kronick and Hanson come out of the general fund, so the governor's outside furlough lawsuit representation won't be paid for services rendered after June 30 until a 2010-11 budget is in place.
August 12, 2010
The Assembly voted 61-4 today to ratify contracts with three state employee bargaining units that include some modifications to pension benefits -- agreements that the Schwarzenegger administration worked out with affected unions.
The ratification bill, Senate Bill 846, was returned to the Senate for a final vote. While most of the debate was positive, a few Republicans argued that the new contracts don't go far enough on pension reform.
The legislation ratifies contracts with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (Bargaining Unit 5), the Operating Engineers Union for craft and maintenance workers (Unit 12) and the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians (Unit 18).
There are three other contracts -- technically called a memorandum of understanding -- that also are awaiting ratification in another bill, Assembly Bill 1592, pending on the Senate floor. They involve state firefighters (Unit 8), physicians, dentists and podiatrists (Unit 16) and health and service professionals (Unit 19).
The $425,000 contract, which you can view here, runs through June 30, 2011.
Liebert Cassidy has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Fresno. The firm's website says it "provides legal services for public sector employers, and city, county, and state agencies."
As we reported last week, Controller John Chiang also has outside legal help with the ongoing state worker minimum wage litigation. His lead attorney, Steven Rosenthal, is with Kaye Scholer. The global firm litigates in a number of areas, including governmental affairs.
The State Worker has asked the Controller's Office for the Kaye Scholar agreeement. We'll post it here when we receive it.
Money for both contracts comes from the general fund. Until a budget is in place, billings for services rendered to either side from July 1 forward can't be paid.
Assembly Republican Leader Martin Garrick said this afternoon that recent agreements between six unions and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are 'headed in the right direction," but he stopped short of saying the Republicans were already on board with the deals.
We talked briefly with Garrick this afternoon, not long after the Assembly Republican Caucus took aim at California's bureaucracy in a press release titled, "It Takes 25 California Private Sector Jobs to Support One State Employee Job."
The release, citing various state government sources for it's statistics, juxtaposes California state and private jobs numbers. Example: California has lost nearly 1.3 million jobs since 2005; state government has added 38,100 jobs during the same period.
Aside from the usual debate that arises whenever you look at these kinds of numbers, we wondered: What does this say about where Garrick and the Assembly GOP stands on the six tentative agreements?
Executive Vice President Chuck Alexander has sent a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg refuting a claim by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that CCPOA doesn't want to negotiate a new labor deal.
Schwarzenegger made that charge in a letter June 4 to Steinberg about his administration's contract talks with the unions: "We are, in fact, in active negotiations with 19 of the 21 bargaining units at this time. Of the two units not yet in active negotiations with us, one has requested delay until its new head of bargaining is in place, and a formal meeting is scheduled for next week. The last remaining bargaining unit, Unit 6 (CCPOA), has made it clear that it is not interested in negotiating this year."
That last line clearly rankled Alexander. Here's his letter to Steinberg, unedited as forwarded to us by CCPOA board member Ian Pickett:
Public-private partnerships are resurfacing as a political flash point.
Professional Engineers in California Government announced this morning that it has "launched a paid radio campaign opposing the conversion of the Doyle Drive/Presidio Parkway Project in San Francisco into a wasteful no-bid public-private partnership."
The ads, which you can hear by clicking here and here are aimed at moving the public to contact the California Transportation Commission and demand it kill the deal. The CTC is scheduled on May 19 to decide whether to approve the conversion project contract.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, The Reason Foundation and American Council Of Engineering Companies California are sponsoring a discussion this afternoon about public-private partnerships.
The event will be in Room 444 in the Capitol at 3 p.m. and it's open to the public.
ACEC is promoting a planned appearance of Bob Carr, the former premier of New South Wales, Australia. He's going to talk about public-private partnership projects there. "Despite having initial reservations about the value of alternative delivery methods such as P3s for transportation and public infrastructure projects," an ACEC press advisory says, "Carr will talk about how he eventually learned the value of P3s and what his administration learned about using them to help achieve the state's goals."
April 15, 2010
With just 400 to 450 words for our Thursday State Worker column, much of what we learn in the ramp up to writing it never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes, the documents and the observations that don't make the cut.
As we reported in today's State Worker column, the state is suing the California Correctional Peace Officers' Association for about $4 million in union paid leave reimbursements to the Corrections and Mental Health departments.
You can click here to view the complaint for damages that the state filed Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court. It includes CCPOA's last UPL agreement with the state and the list of 13 union officials OK'd for long term leave while in their official capacities with the union.
The union disputes the amount and says it had a deal with officials that was subsequently broken by the state. In this Mar. 22 letter to CDCR Secretary Matt Cate, union Executive Vice President Chuck Alexander references a Dec. 3 agreement between CCPOA President Mike Jimenez and department Undersecretary Scott Kernan. CDCR has denied any agreement existed.
The State Worker talked to CCPOA spokesman Lance Corcoran about the matter. Here's what he had to say in a telephone interview late Wednesday:
On CCPOA's UPL tab: Unlike the State of California, we believe in paying our bills. We will make good on what we actually owe. That's never been a question. But we're not going to pay more than we owe. ... The notion that we are reneging on a bill is laughable.
On the deal the union says it had with CDCR: We thought we had an agreement. As usual with this administration, that doesn't mean anything. They have no honor.
January 13, 2010
The Department of Personnel Administration has now spent a total of $513,933 on legal fees to Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard to handle the administration's furlough litigation, according to an e-mail sent to The State Worker by DPA spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley.
That cumulative figure more than doubles the roughly $228,000 the administration had spent on outsourced furlough lawyers through June 2009. Click here to read an earlier post about the Kronick deal for the 2009-10 fiscal year. That blog item includes a link to a PDF of the current contract.
A State Worker blog user e-mailed a question that we should have asked a long time ago: Does the money to pay Sacramento-based Kronick comes from the general fund?
It does, Jolley said.
November 25, 2009
TechLeader.tv has lined up DGS Deputy Director Jim Butler for its Dec. 10 show. From the Web site:
Jim Butler oversees the state's $10 billion annual purchasing, and some of the most relevant, critical, and yes, controversial processes and programs affecting not only state procurement officials, and department spending decision makers, but most of all the thousands of vendors doing business with the State of California. He has been on the job some 18 months now, and it was just about one year ago that he appeared on our TLTV program.
Click here for more information on the upcoming Webcast and to view archived interviews with other government officials responsible for information technology.
October 21, 2009
California Association of Professional Scientists has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the paid holiday changes that have been a point of contention for several months.
Click here to download the 6-page brief.
For background, this link will load up the first blog post about changes to the holiday calendar, "Steinberg says Democrats could vote to eliminate state holidays." Clicking here will open "Budget makes big changes to state worker overtime rules," which includes a link to SBX3 8, the bill at the center of the holiday controversy.
October 19, 2009
State-employed Psychiatric Technicians filed a lawsuit today against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, claiming his elimination of holidays and holiday pay not only specifically hurts those working in California's round-the-clock facilities, but also breaks a major labor law.
The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians' lawsuit argues Governor Schwarzenegger broke the so-called "Evergreen Law" when he eliminated two state holidays - Lincoln's Birthday and Columbus Day - as well as time-and-a-half pay for other holidays as part of a state budget bill earlier this year.
According to the Evergreen Law (California Government Code Section 3517.8), expired state-employee union contracts remain in effect until either a new contract is agreed upon or the union and state reach impasse. As neither an impasse has been reached nor has a new contract been agreed upon, CAPT argues the governor violated the Evergreen Law as well as its 2006-2008 contract, which includes the two holidays as well as time-and-a-half pay for holiday work.
October 15, 2009
SEIU Local 1000 put out a list of DMV operations it said were affected by short staffing on Columbus Day Click here to view it.
DMV says the list overstates what happened on Columbus Day.
Less than 8 percent of DMV's 9000 employees "followed the union," department spokesman Mike Marando told The State Worker. (Worth noting: About 5,000 DMV employees are SEIU-covered).
He said that of the 45 listed by the union as opening late, "only two delayed opening for one to two hours." Those were offices in Los Angeles and Compton.
Four other operations shut down for the day: field offices in Barstow, Gilroy and Watsonville and a call center in Lincoln Park. Union action impact at call centers statewide accounted for a 4.6 percent absenteeism rate, Marando said.
Five of the greater Sacramento area's nine field office registered 100 percent attendance, Marando said.
We wonder what happened the next day. If some folks where you work took the holiday and others didn't, what was the atmosphere on Tuesday? Was it tense, or did people have a "live and let live" attitude?
The impact statewide won't be known for several more days, when departments report payroll changes to the SCO. But do you think SEIU's action was a win for the union? A win for the state? A loss for both sides? A draw? A win or a loss for the public?
And thinking a bit further out, let's assume there's no change to the contract situation by February and Lincoln's Birthday. Will Local 1000 take the same position? If so, how will state workers respond?
October 13, 2009
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 756, which would have required California state departments that outsource to private companies to post the contracts on a user-friendly Web site. Assemblyman Mike Eng, D-Monterey Park, wrote the bill with support from SEIU Local 1000. You can click here to view a previous post about the measure.
Click here to read the governor's veto rationale.
IMAGE: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger / Sacramento Bee, Hector Amezcua
October 12, 2009
We're hearing that at least four DMV offices closed today due to short staffing on what is undoubtedly the most controversial Columbus Day in California government history.
SEIU Local 1000 passed along unconfirmed reports that said offices in Watsonville, Compton, Oxnard and Hawthorne are closed. The union, which had told the 95,000 workers covers to stay home and observe the holiday, said that some other offices are open but struggling because of low staffing.
DPA spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said that the administration had heard that three DMV field offices in Southern California and one the Gilroy area had closed today. Employees at closed locations who showed up were directed to work at nearby worksites. "Otherwise, it's been business as usual, except for a handful of offices," Jolley said.
DPA is working to confirm which offices closed. The administration says that the Legislature and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger changed the law earlier this year and that Columbus Day isn't a paid day off any more.
Meanwhile, Professional Engineers in California Government filed a grievance over the elimination of Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday for members of Bargaining Unit 9.
October 12, 2009
So, what's going on where you work? Or if you didn't go to work, what's your next move?
SEIU Local 1000 has told employees it represents that they're within their legal and contractual rights to treat today like Columbus Days past -- as a paid holiday. Local President Yvonne Walker has said she hopes folks will stay home.
The controversy escalated last week when the two sides fired off dueling e-mails. DPA said the union was encouraging an illegal job action. The union accused DPA of using intimidation tactics to scare workers into working what is still a paid day off under the evergreen provisions of Local 1000's expired contract and the Dill's Act.
(Other unions have said have told their members to work and then file grievances. SEIU has said it will also help file grievances for the folks it represents who work today.)
The state, specifically the governor's Department of Personnel Administration, has said that legislation passed earlier this year changed the state's holiday calendar, including the elimination of Columbus Day as a paid day off for state workers. Take the day off without calling in or arranging leave, the administration has said, and face the consequences of being AWOL.
We asked DPA and several departments whether we could get some statistical sense of no-shows for today. All said the same thing: The numbers won't be known until timesheet adjustments go in to the Controller's Office in about 10 days.
Local 1000 told The State Worker it is monitoring events today but it's not taking any sort of formal count.
So that leaves us with anecdotes from around the state. We're eager to hear your reports.
October 8, 2009
In reporting last Sunday's story on the Columbus Day controversy, we found out that the Schwarzenegger administration months ago formally withdrew support from the SEIU Local 1000 tentative agreement embodied in AB 88.
"... due to the decline in the State's fiscal situation during the past 6 months and the recent passage of the revised budget, the State is unable to support passage of AB 88," wrote Julie Chapman, DPA's Deputy Director of Labor Relations, in an Aug. 24 letter to Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker. "Please contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss reopening negotiations ..."
Click this link to view the entire letter.
The document reminded us of what Walker said during an interview last week, prior our discovery of the Aug. 24 letter.
The State Worker asked her about the contract and whether the union would go back to the bargaining table. After all, Republicans have twice blocked the MOU bill and it seemed almost impossible to us then (and even more so now) that Schwarzenegger would sign the deal should it reach his desk.
Walker's response: "There's a fundamental principle in negotiations: Your word has to mean something. I can't foresee being able to come to an agreement with this governor when he has already demonstrated his word can't be trusted. He's been weighed and found lacking."
IMAGE: freedigitalphotos.net / Francesco Marino
October 6, 2009
Here's another shot in the Columbus Day feud, this time from SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker.
In a sharply worded letter to DPA's Chief Deputy Director of Policy Julie Chapman, Walker restated Local 1000's position that next Monday remains a paid day off for state workers. "There is no question that Columbus Day is a holiday for state workers under the law," she wrote.
Walker was responding to a letter Chapman sent to the union this morning that called for union leaders to stop encouraging members to stay off work Monday.
DPA also wants Local 1000 and to retract its statements that the day remains a holiday, despite legislation the administration says erased Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday as paid days off for state workers.
You can read Chapman's letter via this blog post.
More from Walker's response:
Rather than threatening honest, hard working state workers with further pay loss and discipline for exercising their statutory and contractual rights by observing a recognized holiday, the governor and DPA should focus on consulting their legal advisors concerning compliance with California's labor laws. ...
Contrary to DPA's claims, nothing in the law or contract requires state workers to obtain advance approval to observe a state holiday. ...
Click here to read the rest of the letter to DPA.
Walker also sent a letter to the 95,000 employees that Local 1000 represents. Here's a key paragraph:
I realize that the Department of Personnel Administration and your department are trying to intimidate employees into coming to work on Columbus Day. We have been threatened with adverse actions, AWOLs and everything else they can think of to scare us into working on a day that is legally and rightfully our paid holiday. If we do not stand strong now, where does it end?
Click here to read the entire letter to state workers.
IMAGE: Yvonne Walker / Sacramento Bee, 2008
October 6, 2009
Board of Equalization member Bill Leonard may think Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furloughs miss the mark, but when it comes to Columbus Day, the former Republican state legislator agrees with the administration.
The BOE has refused to follow Schwarzenegger's furlough order. Columbus Day? Different deal, according to the "Leonard Letter" on the former Assemblyman and state Senator's personal Web site:
Despite a fairly long tradition of closing state offices in recognition of Columbus Day, if you have business to do with the state on Columbus Day, we will be open.
A couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of dueling emails between the State Employees International Union and government supervisors. SEIU made the claim that because state employee contracts expired without formal ratification of new contracts, the previous contract --including the Columbus Day Holiday -- is still valid.
However, the Legislature got around this by passing an explicit statute in February that took away the Columbus Day holiday and this statute trumps the expired contracts. SEIU's point is still worth considering because they are correct that in the late 90s the Legislature passed a law that stated whenever a contract between the state and its workers expire the previous contract is still in force, which raises the question, how can you supersede something that never expires? In other words, this law was a really bad idea.
He then cites the amendment to the Dills Act, Government Code 3517.8.
Click the link below to read more about the Leonard's position on Columbus Day.
September 10, 2009
The Bureau of State Audits has released a report on vendor contracts at the departments of Health Care Services and Public Health. Here are highlights from the audit:
Over the last five years, the State Personnel Board (board) has disapproved 17 of 23 IT contracts challenged by a union. Many of the board's decisions were moot because the contracts had already expired before the board rendered its decisions. Of the six IT contracts still active at the time of the board's decisions, only three were terminated because of board disapprovals. Health Care Services did not comply with state policy regarding the use of blanket positions and was disingenuous with budgetary oversight entities. Neither Health Care Services nor Public Health has a complete database that allows it to identify active IT contracts and purchase orders. The departments complied with many, but not all, state procurement requirements. The departments did not obtain the requisite financial interest statements from half the sampled employees responsible for evaluating contract bids and offers.
Click here for the audit summary, which includes recommendations to increase the role of the State Personnel Board and unions in contracting. View the complete report, all 89 PDF pages, by clicking here.
August 24, 2009
The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) launched a campaign today about the dangers of being a cop.
It comes as the police labor group's key members in cities and counties around the state - it doesn't represent CHP officers - enter into contract talks.
The headline on PORAC's press release says the campaign aims to educate Californians about the perils of police work. It also urges that politics be kept out of any discussions about their pay and retirement packages.
The awareness campaign includes two YouTube video commercials.
A key suggestion of the campaign may be unpopular with other state workers, who struggling with furloughs and pay cuts.
PORAC President Ron Cottingham suggests in a news release that police officer compensation is currently "not enough to make it simple to recruit reliable candidates willing to do the job."
There are 10,000 police officer vacancies statewide, Cottingham claims, citing data from the California Commission for Peace Officer Standards and Training.
In the PORAC videos, a male and female officer take turns saying they work dangerous streets and complain that their pensions are "under fire." A gun appears on screen as they discuss their concerns.
The problem is, that's not true for current officers. Changes to pensions under consideration by the administration would only affect future recruits, not officers already working the streets.
Why deliver that message now? This fall, police pensions are certain to come under intense scrutiny if the state's financial condition worsens.
PORAC's public awareness campaign is also a good example of the vertical integration occurring in Sacramento right now, as lobbyists and public relations professionals join forces under one roof to advance their clients' interests.
Rachel Pitts is the contact person on the PORAC campaign. She just joined lobbying shop Aaron Read this summer to help the influence firm launch its new public relations arm, Marketplace Communications.
PORAC is a client of Aaron Read, paying the firm $60,767 from April to June and $180,767 so far in the 2009-2010 cycle, state lobbying filings show.
That's why nobody should forget that when a group like PORAC launches a "public awareness campaign," it can also be a lobbying effort, too.
NOTE: This post has been updated to reflect that PORAC represents police officer associations in cities and counties across the state and remove a suggestion that PORAC members include California Highway Patrol officers. The CHP has its own labor group, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen. Though the CAHP and PORAC use the same lobbying firm, CAHP labor representative Carrie Lane said the CAHP has not paid for and is not involved in any way in the PORAC campaign.
August 20, 2009
The state's legal professionals' union has filed a grievance on behalf of Bargaining Unit 2 employees over the elimination of Lincoln's Birthday and Columbus Day as paid holidays. We broke the news about the changes in this TSW blog post.
On March 25, the Department of Personnel Administration issued PML 2009-017, which explained the changes to department personnel officers and employee relations officers.
Here's part of the e-mail that went out today to members of California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment:
On Monday, CASE filed a unit-wide grievance on behalf of all affected members of Bargaining Unit 2. CASE has requested that the State of California honor its contractual obligations, and immediately instruct all departments, boards, commissions, and agencies that the members of Bargaining Unit 2 are entitled to holiday leave as specified in section 8.1 of the MOU. CASE has also requested that DPA respond to the grievance in an expedited manner. In the event that the State fails to do so, CASE is prepared to take this claim to court to enforce the bargained-for, contractual rights of our members.
You can read the whole thing by clicking this link.
Download the grievance filed with the DPA by clicking here.
The state Department of Parks and Recreation is about to close bidding on a $200,000 contract to study the economic impact of outdoor recreation in California. The deadline for bids is today at 2 p.m.
Click here to see the Bidsync page. If the page has changed or is taken down after the deadline, you can still read about it by
clicking here. The graphics don't translate in the download, but the text is intact.
Click here , to read the summary of the study, which is slated to start this fall and finish up next summer.
You're probably wondering, like the half-dozen state workers who e-mailed us about this did, why the heck is Parks doing this while it's closing facilities?
Here's the rest of the story: Half the money is coming from a land and water conservation grant from the U.S. National Park Service and the state is kicking in the other half, according to Parks spokesman Roy Stearns.
The data will be used by the feds in deciding how to divvy up the dollars to parks departments at the local through state levels.
State and federal officials had been talking about cooperating on a study since 2002, which was also the last time the state has looked at the economics of outdoor recreation. In July 2008, the two sides signed an agreement to do the study and split the costs, Stearns told us.
UPDATE Aug. 11, 10:45 a.m.: Stearns passed along this e-mail from inside State Parks late Monday afternoon:
The total (dollar) amount for the econ. study is $279k. CSP match was $139k. This was submitted 8/1/07 and finally approved 9/15/08.