The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 26, 2013
Employment Development Department staff told to look for work

edd-office.jpgAs they grapple with a severe federal funding cutback, Employment Development Department staff have been told that they need to look for work.

The news came in an internal memo from EDD Chief Deputy Director Sharon Hilliard earlier this month that employees forwarded to The State Worker. A department spokeswoman verified the authenticity of the memo and said that downsizing will eventually affect some customer services.

Hilliard said the Congressional sequestration spending reductions and ongoing underfunding of the Unemployment Insurance program by the federal government translates into a more than $150 million budget shortfall for the department through June 2015.

"While we have been faced with such shortfalls before in the EDD's history, never has our shortfall been so large," Hilliard said in the memo. In response, the department is doing everything from cutting phone service hours and moving staff to more dependably-funded programs to squeezing operational spending and limiting overtime.

"With less federal money available to support staffing in UI programs, we strongly encourage staff to explore other employment opportunities within EDD that don't rely on UI funding," Hilliard's memo says, "such as Disability Insurance and Workforce Services, or with other state agencies."

With the economy recovering from the recession, demand for unemployment benefits is coming down, said EDD spokeswoman Patti Roberts. In the second quarter of 2013, UI claim numbers decreased 37 percent compared to the same three-month stretch at the height of the recession in 2010. (Demand is still 116 percent higher than the same period in pre-recession 2007.)

"And when you couple that with an unprecedented shortfall in our federal UI funding," Roberts said, "we have a situation where we cannot maintain staffing levels and services to the point needed to keep up with demand."

EDD's call center workers have been answering more calls and hold times have been declining, owing to a reorganization of the department's business operation, "however, over time we anticipate call center service levels to decrease given EDD continues to lose staff every day," she said in an email, "and will not be backfilling positions given the UI funding shortfall."

Here's Hilliard's memo:

August 16, 2012
Column Extra: Read the California state engineers' furlough grievance

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.

PECG Jun4, 2012, furlough grievance and related correspondence

July 26, 2012
From the notebook: Read the California state scientists' request to retain some student assistants

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our recent story on student assistants losing their state jobs mentioned that the California Association of Professional Scientists has taken issue with the decision to ax students who work with its members.

The terminations will hit Sept. 1 in keeping with terms reached between Gov. Jerry Brown and SEIU Local 1000. The agreement also says that the state won't hire any more student assistants as long as Local 1000-represented employees are on furlough through June 30, 2013.

Here's a July 12 letter from CAPS President David Miller to the Brown administration that lays out the union's concerns:

David Miller letter to Julie Chapman

July 23, 2012
From the notebook: A student assistant comments on her impending layoff, tuition hikes and job prospects

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in today's Bee takes a closer look at the state's plan to ax hundreds of its student assistants at the end of next month, in keeping with a furlough agreement Gov. Jerry Brown reached with SEIU Local 1000 lastt month.

In the course of reporting, we talked to about a dozen students and corresponded via email with about the same number.

Here's one of those emails from Sacramento State student Heidi Temple. We're posting her words here unedited and with her permission. She was speaking for herself, not her colleagues, supervisors or her employer:

June 20, 2012
State worker calls on SEIU Local 1000 leaders to 'force the state to honor our contract'

Thumbnail image for 120130 Yvonne Walker 2008.JPGHere's an email from state employee Paul Warrick to SEIU Local 1000 leaders regarding the 5-percent pay reduction that union and Brown administration negotiators have been discussing since June 9.

Warrick cc'd The State Worker on Tuesday when he sent the email to Local 1000. With his permission, we're publishing it here, unedited:

Dear President Walker and SEIU 1000 Board Members,

Thousands of state workers are concerned that you won't stand up for us, and force the state to honor our contract. You need only mention the furloughs of the two years preceding our current contract, our increased contribution towards our retirement, the rare Unit 1 cost of living adjustments over the last decade- plus, and the scaling back of benefits for new employees to completely justify a firm stand.

We are sick and tired of the threats of layoffs. We don't want new employees to be laid off, but those of us who have been here for the long haul are weary of layoffs being characterized as our responsibility, when it is not.

Please don't act complicity with the Governor by continuing to further sacrifice our benefits and wages for political appearances aimed at persuading the electorate to support the Governor's tax increase in November.

When the Governor begins his campaign for the tax initiative, his recitation of cuts and concessions mentioned in the first paragraph above is more than sufficient to illustrate that rank and file state employees have done their fair share in these tough economic times.

Besides, the electorate are clamoring for pension reform, not more furloughs. They won't be impressed.

PHOTO: Yvonne Walker / Sacramento Bee 2008 file, Brian Baer

May 24, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 to start pay cut talks with Jerry Brown

In a letter to members this afternoon, SEIU Local 1000 officials said that they are preparing to negotiate with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration early next month, spurred by his proposal to put state workers on a 4/9.5 workweek that would cut their hours and pay by 5 percent.

The chairs of Local 1000's nine bargaining units said that whatever concessions they negotiate will be put in a "side letter" agreement. That would avoid reopening the local's contracts.

Ahead of that, union officials are soliciting savings ideas to offer as alternatives to Brown's furloughs. Next week the local will conduct an online survey of members.

The union's bargaining team will review all of that information ahead of negotiations scheduled to start June 9. Whatever agreement is reached at the table will go to the rank and file for a ratification vote.

Here's the union's rationale for bargaining cuts:

"As the elected leaders of all nine bargaining units within Local 1000, we agreed that it's better to be aggressive participants in the effort to find solutions to achieve savings. We intend to be part of the action, not acted upon.

"We could have said 'no,' and demanded that the governor honor our contract. By staying engaged, we minimize the potential for a huge number of layoffs and even deeper cuts in vital services, like education and the programs that serve California's most needy."

Here's the entire letter:

May 9, 2012
State worker responds to reader's definition of furlough fairness

State worker Tamara Martfeld sent the following email in response to last Friday's post, "Reader of State Worker furlough column defines 'fair.' " We're posting the email unedited and with her permission. Marfield is speaking for herself, not her employer, coworkers or anyone else:

May 4, 2012
Reader of State Worker furlough column defines 'fair'

Reader Linda Clark emailed her reaction to Thursday's State Worker column about whether it's fair for several hundred California government employees in five departments to be paid the wages they lost to furloughs.

With Clark's permission, we're posting her email here, unedited:

May 1, 2012
California controller's office 'very close' to finalizing furlough back pay

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100831 calculator.JPGThe State Controller's Office is "very close" to settling all the thorny issues connected with issuing furlough back pay to hundreds of current and former state workers, but some questions still need to be answered before the checks will be cut, according to a letter provided to The Bee that went out Friday to the affected departments.

The letter from the controller's office, which we've posted below, doesn't commit to a payment date.

According to the letter, the pay will be issued in one check and "subject to federal and state income tax using the flat tax method (25% federal tax and 6% state tax), retirement, Social Security, Medicare, and SDI if applicable."

The controller's office also will withhold garnishments and union dues or fair share fees from the checks.

It also looks like employees may be paid at different times, depending on how quickly their employers submit documentation. Payments will go out "within 10 working days from the date SCO receives the completed Furlough Settlement Pay Template from your department (further details regarding the template will be forthcoming)," the letter says. No word when that will happen.

February 28, 2012
State Compensation Insurance Fund OKs staff bonus program

Despite an unprecedented downsizing that has cut jobs and emptied out agency offices around California, the State Compensation Insurance Fund's board of directors has OK'd a new incentive bonus program for employees.

It's not clear how much this will cost State Fund, a quasi-private state agency that provides workers' compensation insurance to businesses, but employees could receive up to 10 percent of their base pay depending on how well they perform. None of the bonus money would come from tax dollars, since State Fund operates solely on policyholders' premiums and investments.

The board approved the Performance Award Program on Feb. 17, about seven weeks after 971 employees in danger of layoffs took an unprecedented severance package that paid them to leave by the end of last year and give up their preferential rights to other state government jobs. The so-called "transition packages" cost State Fund about $30 million.

Even after those employees left, another 700 fund jobs remained on the chopping block as part of a multiyear plan to save $200 million by axing outdated jobs, shuttering offices and consolidating operations.

We asked fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen how the new employee bonus program lined up with the agency's push to cut costs. She responded by forwarding an email to staff that explains the program as "an appropriate investment in strengthening and accelerating our transition to a performance-based culture." (Click here to read the entire email.)

The bonuses are contingent on negotiations with union representatives, according to the State Fund staff memo. Here's the board's agenda item concerning the new bonus program:
State Compensation Insurance Fund bonus item on BOD's Feb. 17 agenda

February 28, 2012
Internal memo leaks name of Jerry Brown's next personnel director

Thumbnail image for 101022 mail image.jpg3:04 p.m.: Updated with further comments from Ron Yank.

According to an internal email to Department of Personnel Administration staff, Julie Chapman will replace Ron Yank as DPA director.

The source of the memo obtained by The Bee and verified by DPA: Yank himself.

December 22, 2011
Column Extra: Social Security tax hike on state paychecks

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, some of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our column in today's Bee explains why, even if Congress extends the lower 4.2 percent Social Security tax rate set to expire this month, that the higher 6.2 percent rate will show up on state workers' Jan. 1 paychecks.

Here's the letter from the State Controller's Office that explains the situation to all departments and universities who run their payroll through the SCO:

December 21, 2011
From the notebook: Read a California Lottery resignation letter

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in today's Bee about Gov. Jerry Brown's appointment to the California Lottery's top job -- and other key positions that remain unfilled -- mentions that Commissioner Alex Fortunati resigned, effective immediately, on Dec. 8. Brown's Republican predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, appointed Fortunati at the end of 2010.

Brown must fill the vacant spot and the other two termed-out seats on the commission by early next month.

Here's Fortunati's resignation letter:

111220 Fortunati letter.JPG

November 15, 2011
Poll: Tired of criticism and cutbacks, state worker retiring early

After reading the recent Legislative Analyst's Office's review of Gov. Jerry Brown's public pension proposals, Energy Commission employee Ross Miller says he's glad to be leaving his state career soon.

Ross' brief, but descriptive, Nov. 10 email to The State Worker are his words alone, including a reference to Brown's prophesy that failing to put his tax plan before voters would lead to political and fiscal Armageddon . Ross isn't representing his employer or his colleagues:

The LAO report is certainly frank about the policy goal for future new hires. Their retirements will be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short, a fitting outcome in a war of all against all. In this race to the bottom, the winning strategy is to pull up lame. I'm taking early retirement next month at what otherwise would have been the most productive part of my career. I'm not spiking my retirement or padding it with air time.

I am tired of feeding from the hand that bites me. And, I'm not at all regretting abandoning an ungrateful public.

Which leads us to our poll:

October 14, 2011
Board of Equalization director: We need new headquarters

111014 Cazadd.JPGIn response to our Tuesday report on the water-logged, mold-infested, faintly-toxic Board of Equalization headquarters building, BOE Executive Director Kristine Cazadd sent the following e-mail to The State Worker. We're publishing it, unedited, with her permission:

October 6, 2011
Read State Fund chief's layoff e-mail to employees

Thumbnail image for 100727 rowe.JPGAs we reported earlier today, State Compensation Insurance Fund's President and CEO Tom Rowe has announced a plan to layoff up to 1,800 of the organization's 7,300 employees by the second quarter of next year.

Here's the text of the e-mail that went out at noon:

September 18, 2011
From the notebook: Departments ask to hire, Brown responds

Thumbnail image for notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpg
We never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in today's Bee examines how Gov. Jerry Brown's administration is enforcing his Feb. 15 hiring freeze order.

Today's piece mentions four departments that sought exemptions with varying degrees of success: the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

What follows are links to download those departments' hiring freeze exemption requests and the Brown administration's responses. Starting Monday, we'll begin posting daily all the exemption requests that went into our hiring freeze calculations. It will probably take two weeks or a little longer to put all of them online.

September 13, 2011
Union leaders urge SEIU council to reject executive pay raise

A letter criticizing an SEIU Local 1000 proposal to increase executive pay is making the rounds among rank-and-file members, just days before union officials will convene in Oakland and consider the idea.

The letter, written by Paul Smilanick, former president and current vice president and chief steward of SEIU Local 1000 District Labor Council 768 in Sacramento and former Local 1000 Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer Cathy Hackett to Local 1000's council members, says that adding stipends to the state pay that the union's president and three vice presidents receive "is just plain wrong."

The council will consider whether to adopt the pay plan during a four-day meeting in Oakland that starts Friday. The proposal would set the president's pay at $150,000 per year and the three vice presidents' yearly pay at $125,000. The union would add a stipend to each officer's state pay to get them up to the new compensation level.

Currently, those officers receive their government pay and benefits while working full time on union business. Local 1000 then reimburses the state.

Proponents say that's not nearly enough, given the 95,000-member union's size, budget and the long work hours put in by those four elected officials.

More than a dozen people forwarded the e-mail to The State Worker. We contacted Smilanick and Hackett to verify their authorship. Both gave permission to post their joint e-mail here, unedited:

August 16, 2011
Why a six-figure public pensioner wants pensions changed

Capitol Matrix Consulting's Mike Genest has come under some harsh criticism from public labor unions for receiving a six-figure pension while arguing for public pension roll backs.

His firm made a splash with a report commissioned by the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility that concludes public employees' pay and beneifts packages are generally better than those in the private sector. A third installment of the study issued last week concludes that changing the system -- lowering benefits, shifting more of the cost to employees and the like -- would potentially save government billions of dollars over time.

Genest, who retired from state service as finance director for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, receives an annual pension of about $125,000 per year. In a Monday e-mail to The State Worker, he explained why he advocates remaking a retirement system from which he has benefited. We're publishing that e-mail here, unedited and with Genest's permission:

June 30, 2011
Read the CDCR memo on professional development days

We mentioned in a post on Tuesday that today is the last day for most state employees to burn their 2010-11 Professional Development Days, although department mandates and some union contracts have caveats to that rule.

Here's a May 25 memo that outlines how CDCR is handling the policy for managers and rank and file. (Hat tip to Blog User J for passing it along.)
Requesting and Approving Professional Development Days

June 9, 2011
Read CalSTRS investment staff letter to CalPERS colleagues

As we told you earlier this week, CalSTRS investment staff sent a letter to CalPERS investment staff encouraging them to hang in there amid a publicized scandal, a gifts probe and legislation that impacts the value of gifts that investment employees at either fund can accept and lengthens "revolving door" prohibitions should they leave for the private sector.

"These are difficult times," the June 1 letter says. "Defined benefit plans are under attack. Public employee pensions are in the spotlight and the financial markets are more volatile and challenging than ever before. Couple all of that with the burden of new rules and regulations, and it is apparent that it's getting harder and harder to simply do our jobs."

Here's the letter from CalSTRS to CalPERS. It was signed by nearly 70 CalSTRS investment staff. We've omitted those signatures as a security precaution:

110609 CalSTRS memo.JPG

May 10, 2011
Controller John Chiang defends state employee gift limits bill

RP CHIANG TESTIFY.JPGState Controller John Chiang's office contacted The State Worker on Monday with a rebuttal to a statement we published last week by CalPERS board member J.J. Jelincic stating his opposition to Senate Bill 439, which would lower limits on gifts to CalPERS and CalSTRS board members and employees to $50.

Jelincic had prepared the remarks but didn't get to read them at last week's Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Ethics hearing. He believes that the measure would force employees to pay for business meals out of pocket, since state per diem isn't enough to cover those expenses and CalPERS' partners or potential partners wouldn't be allowed to pick up the tab.

The measure was put on the committee's consent calendar and moved to the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 5-0 vote without testimony for or against it.

Appropriations is supposed to take up the measure on Monday.

Chiang, who sponsored the legislation, is an ex-officio member of both the CalPERS and CalSTRS boards. Here's his response to Jelincic's criticisms:

April 29, 2011
Law enforcement organization hit by hackers

Computer hackers have stolen names, addresses, Social Security numbers and credit card information of about 2,000 retired public safety officers belonging to the Peace Officers Research Association of California, according to a email sent to them on Thursday night.

PORAC informed its members that its data server was breached earlier this month. The hackers stole application files of retired associate members going back to 2008, including dates of birth, addresses and phone numbers and email addresses.

"Based on our investigation, it appears that the breach was limited to (retiree) applications and we have no reason to believe that other PORAC members were affected," PORAC President Ron Cottingham said in the email.

Cottingham told The Bee this morning that the association was following up with a letters that will be mailed out today.

The organization started receiving reports last week that members' credit cards were showing transactions in foreign countries shortly after being charged by PORAC. On April 27, the organization figured out that the retiree associate member files had been hacked.

"Our Information Technology team has confirmed the breach and scope of compromised data, temporarily shut down portions of PORAC's website and is quickly taken steps to enhance security and strengthen PORAC's infrastructure," Cottingham said in the email. "We will not restore those portions of the website until we are confident that our members' information is secure."

PORAC represents more than 890 associations and over 62,000 local, state and federal public safety personnel.

Click here to read the PORAC email to retiree members, which includes steps members can take to protect their credit information and identity security.

April 19, 2011
Corrections secretary responds to Bee editorial

1104119 Matt Cate.JPGThe Bee's Sunday editorial about the California Correctional Peace Officers Association contract has prompted Corrections Secretary Matt Cate to respond with a rebuttal to assertions the piece made about the deal.

Cate's letter, published on the department's "CDCR Star" web page, fires back at 10 points in the editorial.

Click here to read it.

Update, April 20, 5:15 a.m.: The Bee's editorial board has published a correction. Read it here.

PHOTO: CDCR Secretary Matt Cate /

April 18, 2011
P.O.V.: Government shouldn't 'farm out' inspections

Point of View blog posts publish thoughtful, provocative e-mails sent to The State Worker.

State employee George Baldini sent an e-mail last week in response to Poll: Will state hire more school inspectors?

With the author's permission, we're publishing the unedited e-mail here. He speaks for himself, not his union or employer:

April 5, 2011
Does personal leave time have cash value?

Our Monday post about the new analysis of the tentative agreements for California's state scientists and engineers contained a paragraph about personal leave having cash value that needs some clarification:

The Department of Personnel Administration's savings estimates don't include a provision that it negotiated later with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and then applied via a March 30 memo to the five units that reached deals with Brown. The provision gives cash value to personal leave program time.

The Legislative Analyst's Office came to that conclusion from a hand-written note in the Unit 6 tentative agreement signed by Department of Personnel Administration Director Ron Yank, pictured below: "DPA to issue PML giving PLP cash value. For you and any of the other five open b.u.'s with whom we reach a deal. You bet, Ron Yank."

March 31, 2011
LAO: Union contracts ramp up pressure for layoffs, hiring freeze

Contracts recently negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown's administration don't come close to saving the state enough money, placing "greater pressure on the administration to achieve employee compensation savings through other administrative actions, such as hiring freezes, furlough programs, and layoffs," an internal state memo says.

The memo sent Wednesday from the Legislative Analyst's Office to the Senate Republican Budget Committee, embedded below, estimates that the contracts will produce only about one-third of the $308 million in general fund savings that Brown proposes in his budget.

Steve Maviglio, spokesman for the union coalition Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security, sent The State Worker an e-mail with this take: "This memo is another strong dose of pension reality. For all the alarmist political attacks on public employees, this shows that they are making significant concessions to get us through this economic crisis."

The LAO, which not long ago suggested that lawmakers impose pay cuts to save money, bases its MOU cost estimate on a review of the ratified or tentative memoranda of understanding reached with 19 of the state's 21 bargaining units. As of Wednesday, the LAO hadn't received the details of deals reached with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association or the International Union of Operating Engineers (Unit 13).

Will Republicans hold up a legislative vote on the tentative MOUs? It's happened before.
Legislative Analyst's Office memo regarding state labor contracts, Mar. 30, 2011

March 24, 2011
Attorneys' union says furloughs still an option for lawmakers

As we worked on the mountain of e-mail in our inbox this morning, we ran across several forwarded items carrying the subject line, "Additional Information," from the board of the California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment.

Apparently, the union's leadership had heard that members might reject the recent tentative agreement reached with Gov. Jerry Brown, since furloughs will end before the deal is ratified by members and the Legislature.

With so many other state employee unions facing similar issues, dates and deadlines, we thought the CASE response was worth sharing:

For the first time in years, CASE is dealing with an administration that is bargaining in good faith. Part of the tentative agreement negotiated by CASE was the condition that furloughs would end on April 1, 2011. The fact that the Brown Administration has agreed to honor that provision and to stop furloughs while the ratification process is pending should not be mistaken for an opportunity to exploit the temporary cessation of furloughs by rejecting the MOU on the false assumption that once furloughs stop on April 1, 2011, that they will never resume.

The 2011-12 budget bill has language that deputizes Brown to enact furloughs on behalf of the Legislature, the memo notes. So, while Brown may not be firing at state workers who don't yet have ratified contracts, there are furlough bullets in the chamber.

Click here to read the entire CASE e-mail.

March 22, 2011
Unions withdraw furlough order injunction request

Editor's note, 1 p.m.: This post has been edited to clarify that the unions are continuing to fight furloughs in court.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgSix state employee groups that had renewed their furlough court fight last month have decided to drop the preliminary injunction that sought to stop furloughs, although they are continuing the litigation against the policy itself.

California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment this morning told their members of the coordinated decision to withdraw a motion for preliminary injunction in Alameda Superior Court. The lawsuit sought to stop furloughs for state workers in unions without contracts that had been ordered by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last summer.

As we reported earlier this month, the renewed lawsuit had named Gov. Jerry Brown as defendant, since he took over after Schwarzenegger was termed out.

"In light of the fact that all of the bargaining units have now secured tentative agreements, and in light of the administration's decision to end furloughs on April 1, 2011 for all units regardless of whether the MOUs have been ratified by that date, the plaintiffs determined that there would be nothing to enjoin on April 8, 2011," said the letter from the CASE board of directors.

Officials with CASE, Professional Engineers in California Government, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, California Association of Professional Scientists, International Union of Operating Engineers and Association of California State Supervisors all agreed to drop the lawsuit, according to the CASE memo.

That settles the fight over stopping the last furlough order, but the battle over the furlough policy will continue, the CASE board said:

"This action in no way affects or limits our ability to seek damages/back pay for members of Bargaining Unit 2 who were furloughed. The trial on the merits of our challenge to furloughs remains on calendar, and is presently set to begin this July. We will continue to keep you updated on the progress of all pending litigation as events develop."

Click here to read the CASE e-mail. Here's the court filing:
Notice of Withdrawal


March 16, 2011
Treasurer to Little Hoover Commission: Reopen pension study

110315 Lockyer.JPGState Treasurer Bill Lockyer sent a letter to Daniel Hancock on Tuesday, asking the Little Hoover Commission chairman to reopen a controversial study of California's public pensions that suggests current employees' accrued benefits should be frozen and then lowered going forward.

Lockyer slammed the report last week.

Here's his letter to Hancock:
Lockyer Letter to Little Hoover Commission

PHOTO: State Treasurer Bill Lockyer speaks to a legislative committee in 2009. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

March 15, 2011
CalPERS chief says corruption report a 'turning point' for fund

The State Worker has received a copy of the in-house e-mail from CalPERS CEO Anne Stausboll that comments on corruption allegations detailed in a commissioned report that the fund released late Monday. We're reprinting it here:

From: CEO Mailbox
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2011 6:04 PM
To: Exchange Users, HQ; Exchange Users, Regional Offices
Subject: Placement Agent Report

Good evening,

At 6 pm today (Monday), the CalPERS Board of Administration released the report conducted by outside experts on the activities of placement agents. The Board will be discussing this report in open session tomorrow. A full copy of the report can be found at

The delivery of this report represents the culmination of months of hard work by our staff and the Board. We have asked some very difficult questions during this period, and we have faced what seemed to be insurmountable challenges. However, the mission that our organization was founded on nearly 80 years ago, along with our core values, has kept us laser focused to get to this day.

Although it is difficult to learn of the apparent misconduct of some of the former officials, the issuance of this report is a turning point for our organization. This day serves as a reminder about how far we have come to strengthen our accountability, ethics and transparency. We have already taken numerous remedial actions, and we are continuing to learn from the situation and make the changes necessary to restore trust and confidence in the system.

CalPERS is a special place for all of us and those we serve. I am proud to be part of this organization and have the utmost confidence in staff's dedication to our members.


Anne Stausboll | Chief Executive Officer | CalPERS Executive Office

March 14, 2011
Union says rejecting contract could have dire consequences

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100806 ballot-box.jpgLawyers and other legal professionals who have sidestepped two years of furloughs because of where they work could wind up with three unpaid days off each month, their union warns, if voting members don't ratify a new labor pact between now and month's end.

California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment, which reached a tentative labor agreement last week with Gov. Jerry Brown, laid out that scenario in advance of ratification ballots going out today. The deadline for their return is Mar. 31 at 5 p.m..

Some CASE members tell us they'll vote for agreement and others say that they won't. What makes this situation different is the large cohort -- about a quarter of the employees CASE represents -- who work in the Department of Justice.

As we noted in our Thursday column, those folks have never taken a single furlough day. Now they're voting on a contract that includes one unpaid day off per month for 12 months, close to a 5 percent pay cut on top of a 3 percentage point employee pension contribution hike for all members.

(To be fair, the contract contains sweeteners, such as a smidgen of monthly paid leave time each month and an increase in what the state pays toward health benefits.)

If the rank and file rejects the deal, however, it's possible that DOJ staff would have to start taking three furlough days each month, just like their colleagues in unprotected departments. CASE explained how that could happen in the third of a series of tentative agreement FAQs it sent to members last week:

March 10, 2011
From the notebook: More about Caltrans employee pay, benefits

110307 Anderson press conference.JPGWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the notes and quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

We wrote an item for today's Bee that looks at Sen. Joel Anderson's statement that Caltrans employees' average pay and benefits package is more than $100,000 per year.

Turns out that he's correct about the average compensation cost per employee if you look at proposed positions and wages for 2010-11, but the department's personnel composition -- lots of engineers with education and specialized skills -- skews the statistic.

Here are sources we considered for our analysis:

March 10, 2011
CalSTRS responds to Little Hoover pension report

110310 ehnes.jpgLast month's Little Hoover Commission report suggests pension reforms that would end up costing the state more money in the long run -- and that's if they're even legal, the chief executive of California's biggest teachers' pension fund said in a Wednesday letter to the commission.

"(I)mplementing the recommendations made in the report - even if it were possible to do - would likely weaken,rather than strengthen, retirement security for California's public educators," Jack Ehnes, CEO of the California State Teachers' Retirement System, said in a letter sent to Little Hoover Chairman Daniel Hancock. "Given the importance of this issue to literally millions of Californians, it is time to move past the political rhetoric and focus on solutions that are truly responsive to the problems."

March 9, 2011
Labor coalition revving up public relations campaign

Get ready for some major public employee pension push back from Californians for Health Care and Retirement Security, the broad-based coalition of government worker unions chaired by Dave Low of the California School Employees Association.

The group has tapped Steve Maviglio, head of Sacramento-based Forza Communications, to speak up for civil service workers, starting with an open letter to lawmakers Tuesday afternoon, urging that they "protect retirement security for those who serve the public."

Maviglio brings to bear 30 years of political communications experience at the state, local and national level. In Sacramento, he's probably best known as the spokesman for former Gov. Gray Davis and Assembly Speakers Fabian Núñez and Karen Bass. Most recently, he was the spokesman for the group that successfully opposed Proposition 23, the November 2010 measure that would have suspended the state's greenhouse gas law.

The Maviglio hiring signals that the unions believe they need to raise their public communications game, particularly given the growing pressures on employee pay and pensions created by the state's deep -- and deeply divisive -- $26.6 billion budget deficit. The economy also has created a bit of a tailwind for groups looking to cut current public employees' pension benefits or severely limit public employee collective bargaining.

While such changes may be a political long shot in California, the fact that the ideas have entered the public discourse pushes out the boundaries of the pension/compensation reform debate.

And if voters don't approve Gov. Jerry Brown's tax extension plan to help close part of that shortfall, it will be Maviglio's job to shape the message that keeps government workers' pay and pensions from being ripped apart in the political storm that will undoubtedly follow.

PHOTO CREDIT: Steve Maviglio testifies before the Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday, January 7, 2004. Sacramento Bee/ John Decker

February 25, 2011
Attorneys' union calls Little Hoover report 'irresponsible'

The state legal professionals' union said today that Thursday's Little Hoover Commission report and pension change recommendations are "irresponsible" and "cynical" and notes that "the various reports of the Little Hoover Commission seldom have any significant impact on policy decisions."

And that's the nice part of California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employment memo to members. Here's the whole thing:

February 22, 2011
Union says it has tentative labor deal, can't yet release details

California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment told its members last week that it has reached a tentative labor agreement but specifics can't yet be revealed.

"The CASE Bargaining Team and Board of Directors are pleased to announce that CASE and DPA have reached agreement on a cost package for a MOU for Bargaining Unit 2, and also tentatively agreed to many of the principal terms of the MOU," union officials said in an e-mail Friday to its roughly 3,700 members.

The deal, according to the e-mail, reaches for a contract that is "is both fair and realistic in light of the current budget environment."

But specific language has to be hammered out at the bargaining table, CASE says. Furthermore, "ongoing budget negotiations between DPA and the Department of Finance, (DPA) Director (Ron) Yank has informed us that DPA will not be able to formally close negotiations before March 7, 2011. However, Director Yank has stated that he has 'every confidence' that 'all issues will be agreed upon by that date.' "

Click here to read the CASE memo.

January 24, 2011
Union spokesman: Wall Street to blame for state budget

Peter Feng, a spokesman for AFSCME in California, read last Thursday's State Worker column, "New proposal to cut pensions wouldn't spare current employees," and then e-mailed us with his reaction.

We're posting his unedited e-mail here with his permission:

December 2, 2010
Column Extra: Read the inspector general's letter to staff

101022 mail image.jpgSpace constraints limit our State Worker column on Thursdays to roughly 425 words, so much of what we learn in the ramp-up to writing never sees print. Column Extras give State Worker blog users more information -- the notes, the quotes, the data and the documents that inform the weekly feature.

Our column in today's Bee mentions a letter to staff from Inspector General David Shaw, blasting Tuesday's report from the Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes that questions whether OIG needs lawyers and auditors with peace officer status.

Here's the Shaw e-mail:

November 16, 2010
CASE: Labor picture grim, legal picture unclear for members

The board of California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment painted a bleak labor picture in an e-mail sent to its 3,700 or so members last week.

It also updated the status of key furlough litigation involving constitutional department employees, the union's State Compensation Insurance Fund members and so-called "special fund" departments. The punchline for all of that litigation: The implications from last month's state Supreme Court furlough decision are still rippling through the court system, and its impact isn't yet clear.

Regarding contract talks, CASE told members that it's highly unlikely that a deal can be done with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even if it happened, the Legislature's schedule and the ratification process would delay any new terms taking effect for several months.

Then there's this grim analysis:

November 11, 2010
Should SEIU have pressed for no furloughs for SCIF workers?

Victor Szendi, a steward in DLC 749 of SEIU Local 1000, believes that the union's new contract stiffed State Compensation Insurance Fund employees by failing to arrange a side agreement to exempt them from furloughs. Szendi is a claims representative at the fund.

Here's the background: CASE first won a lawsuit that argued furloughs at State Fund violated state insurance code.

SEIU wanted no part of the litigation since it carved out special status for state workers based on workplace instead of union representation. Union President Yvonne Walker criticized CASE for its lawsuit and for what she said set a "dangerous tone" that undercut organized labor.

After coming under severe criticism, however, SEIU tried to piggyback on the CASE ruling and get Local 1000 employees at State Fund included in the CASE decision.

When that didn't work, SEIU sued and won, which created another problem: explaining why it went to bat for a select group of employees.

Now the pendulum is swinging back, with Szendi and other State Fund employees like him upset that the the new SEIU contract imposes unpaid days off on them when they have been receiving full pay and hours because of the court decision.

Here's Szendi's e-mail, unedited. The views expressed are his own. He does not speak for his employer or his union.

November 4, 2010
Corrections Department missing radios, issues wanted poster

Equipment has gone missing at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, according to the following internal e-mail (The State Worker has redacted the name of the person who sent the notice):

From: xxxxxx xxxxxxx (HQ Facilities)@CDCR
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2010 9:12 AM
To: CDCR HQ 1515 S Street Staff
Subject: Emergency Evacuation Team Radios and Chargers

The Emergency Evacuation Planning Committee is trying to locate and retrieve 18 radios and 19 chargers that are missing from the CDCR Emergency Evacuation Team inventory. This equipment is necessary for effective communication among team members during emergency evacuations. Please review the attached flyer. If you have any of these devices in your area please contact me or deliver them to my office. It will be appreciated if these items can be collected by Friday, November 5th.

Thank you for your assistance.

xxxxx xxxxxx
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Facilities Management Division

The department also issued a wanted poster (we've covered the name of the staff person who sent it out):

November 1, 2010
Caltrans director says department's performance 'extraordinary'

101029 McKim.jpgIn a recent message to department staff, Caltrans Director Cindy McKim praises them for cranking out their work despite furloughs and staffing cuts. The comments appeared in a "Director's Corner" piece for the October edition of Caltrans News. Here's the top of the column:

In 2009-10, Caltrans once again posted impressive achievements toward our goal of improving mobility across California. We delivered 99.3 percent of projects included in our contracts for delivery, obligated all available federal dollars, paved 3,936 miles of highway, and authorized 1,664 state and local construction projects for available federal funds. All of these achievements are remarkable. But with the fact that we did this in the face of furloughs, understaffing, and operating expense reductions, the achievement is elevated from remarkable to extraordinary!

Click here to read the rest.

The Caltrans employee who flagged the item for The State Worker sent it with this comment: "Please look at this. We are working our butts off and no one seems to know. I appreciate the message from our Director, but she's preaching to the choir."

McKim's message and the e-mailer's insight prompted us to think about "attaboys" from management. We want to know what you think. Take our poll:

PHOTO: Cindy McKim /

October 20, 2010
SEIU Local 1000 exec argues for contract ratification

101020 Jim_Hard.jpgJim Hard, former president of SEIU Local 1000 and the union's current vice president for organizing and representation, sent an e-mail to members on Tuesday that passionately argues for ratifying the local's tentative agreement with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ballots went out to members on Monday. The deadline to return them is Nov. 8. Clearly, the union has caught flack from some members who are upset with the deal's concessions.

In the lengthy e-mail that follows, Hard says the contract is a shield from future turmoil, "From my viewpoint our choice is this contract or no contract, and negotiate with the next Governor during the next budget fight.

"Yes, there is an election, but if the Governor turns out to be Meg Whitman she will make Schwarzenegger seem mild. Also, every Governor has to deal with the 2/3 majority for budgets and taxes (increased revenue) and an extreme legislative minority pledged to only cut services, state employee compensation and positions."

September 1, 2010
Schwarzenegger cabinet memo clamps down on hiring, OT

As we reported in today's Bee, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has told agency secretaries and department directors to stop hiring, a directive underscored in a memo issued on Tuesday and obtained by The State Worker today.

The memo from Cabinet Secretary Scott Reid also directs departments to cut down on overtime. Although it uses the term "hiring freeze" to describe the governor's insistence that state executives scrutinize all new hires, the memo isn't an executive order directing that all hiring end.

According to Reid, Schwarzenegger's directions include the following:

All state agencies and departments under his direct executive authority shall cease the hiring of employees (including the categories of retired annuitant, permanent intermittent, seasonal, temporary help, and student assistant).

The hiring freeze shall also apply to the transfer of employees between State agencies, the promotion of employees, and the contracting for individuals to perform services.

Every effort shall be taken to cease and desist the authorization of all overtime for employees.

August 26, 2010
More furlough, minimum wage lawsuits filed

Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgLet's catch up on lawsuit news.

Professional Engineers in California Government andCalifornia Association of Professional Scientists have filed a lawsuit in Sacramento to stop Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest furlough order. CalPERS and CalSTRS have jointly filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate with the state Supreme Court with the same aim. Here's an internal memo sent Monday to CalPERS employees from fund CEO Anne Stausboll that lays out the details:

August 6, 2010
DPA: Accrued furlough hours no longer have expiration date

Furlough time that state workers have on the books can now stay in the bank indefinitely, according to a memo issued Thursday by the Department of Personnel Administration.

PML 2010-015 outlines the well-known details of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest furlough order: The policy reduces state workers' pay by an amount equal to three days per month with most employees taking off commensurate time off the second, third and fourth Fridays. Several departments, union bargaining units and a few employee classifications also are exempt.

Then, at the bottom of the second page, this two-line paragraph:

August 5, 2010
Administration issues furlough letter; SEIU seeks to block order

The Department of Personnel Administration sent a draft pay letter to the State Controller's Office on Wednesday that defines the specifics of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough order.

The SCO will return the letter with appropriate codes filled in. DPA will then issue the final document.

Click here and here to read the furlough pay instructions.

Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgOn a related note, SEIU Local 1000 plans to ask Alameda Superior Court Judge Steven Brick for a temporary restraining order to stop furloughs until a full hearing can be scheduled to debate the policy.

The TRO request will be heard Monday, the union says. The first "Furlough Friday" under the new executive order is set for Aug. 13.

Local 1000 also has a lawsuit before Brick that seeks to expand the number of "special fund" departments that the union says should be exempt from furloughs. Click here to read more about it.

August 5, 2010
Column Extra: Read the broken lock e-mails

Today's State Worker column takes a ground-level look at the budget impasse, and how it appeared for a while that it would literally take an act of the Legislature to get a broken employee entry door lock fixed at the Inglewood office of UIB's Southwest Primary Adjudication Center.

A state worker prompted us to write the column after faxing along two e-mails to staff from Ron Myracks, who comes through in his memos as a concerned mid-level manager caught by forces beyond his control.

Here are Myrack's July 22 and July 23 e-mails to staff about the lock, which we understand was being repaired late Wednesday afternoon:

August 3, 2010
CalPERS to Chiang: No furloughs for us, thanks

The state's multifaceted furlough civil war took a new twist today as CalPERS CEO Anne Stausboll sent a letter to Controller John Chiang asking that he "continue to transfer funds from our accounts sufficient to fully compensate our employees, notwithstanding the governor's illegal furlough order."

The letter which you can read here, says that furloughing CalPERS employees doesn't help the general fund, that an Alameda judge ruled that furloughs are "capricious and unlawful," and that Chiang has the authority to "exercise your independent judgment on the matter."

Stausboll also says that the "new furlough will continue to interfere with our ability to carry out our constitutional duties of prudently administering the retirement system and delivering the promised benefits to our members and their beneficiaries."

Worth noting:
The Stausboll letter doesn't mention that CalPERS sued Schwarzenegger over his furlough order and lost. You can read more about that case here.

We've left a message with Chiang's office seeking comment about the letter. Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Rachel Arrezola sent this e-mail comment in response to the letter:

"The state controller has said he will have to begin issuing IOUs without a budget in place, so the governor was forced to implement this short-term furlough program to preserve cash. The furlough program must be applied with only the very narrow exemptions to achieve maximum savings, feasibility and equity. The governor's authority to furlough state workers is clear and has been upheld in the courts, including the San Francisco Superior Court decision upholding CalPERS furloughs."

August 2, 2010
State worker: Two months of furloughs would put my family 'on the streets'

This e-mail from Correctional Sgt. Leesa Kirby was among roughly 300 we received in the aftermath of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough order last week. We're posting her e-mail here with her permission. She's speaking for herself, not her employer or anyone else:

July 30, 2010
Jack O'Connell: 'I maintain my opposition to furloughs'

100730 O'Connell 2009 Jose Luis Villegas.JPGWe've been calling the state constitutional officers to see if any plan to furlough their employees next month in keeping with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's new executive order. All have refused earlier furlough orders, citing what they believe is their constitutional independence to control their own employees.

In response to our query, Department of Education information officer Tina Jung sent over a recent e-mail to all staff from Jack O'Connell, state superintendent of public instruction:

July 19, 2010
State worker says governor trying to 'trim the fat off an emaciated animal'

After Friday's minimum wage decision by Judge Patrick Marlette, state worker Kara Kemmler sent this e-mail. We called her and secured permission to post her words here, unedited. She speaks only for herself, not her employer or her union.


This is good news (for now) for struggling state employees, at least for those who are ordered to be punished in a transparent move by the Governor to gain an unfair advantage in contract bargaining processes. The Controller is the only one in Sacramento doing his job- why should we spend resources adjusting the payroll system to accommodate what won't actually be a cost savings for the state, creating a net added cost?? Thanks to Chiang, it looks like we will at least receive our full pay for July. That is a HUGE relief. But I have to wonder- if the "Governator" would terminate his efforts to repeatedly sue the Controller and other political maneuverings, would he save the state enough money to cover the pay for state workers that he's spending so much resources on trying to withhold and ultimately reduce...?

Instead of continuing to bash state employees and try to trim fat off an emaciated animal, it would be incredibly redeeming if he would make some sort of attempt to address the real budget problems in the state.

Thank you for reading my rant.

kara kemmler

July 19, 2010
FPPC says interest-free loans for state workers are OK

20 dollar bill.jpgBee Capitol Bureau colleague Torey Van Oot reported that the Fair Political Practices Commission on Friday issued an advice letter to the Senate Banking, Finance & Insurance Committee that employees do not have to report no-interest budget impasse loans as gifts or income on their statements of economic interests -- as long as the loans are offered to all state employees who are members of the institutions.

FPPC drew up the letter after concerns arose in some quarters that at least one bank -- one of the many that didn't announce a no-interest state worker loan program earlier this month -- was telling state workers that such loans had to be reported.

For now, the matter is moot except for legislative employees, who get no pay until a budget is approved. Judge Patrick Marlette's decision on Friday means that the state won't withhold pay to the federal minimum for about 200,000 state employees for this month or next while litigation plays out in Sacramento Superior Court.

Still, we recommend you check out Torey's post on our sister blog, Capitol Alert, for more info and a link to the FPPC advice letter.


July 2, 2010
CASE updates members on bargaining, litigation, minimum wage

In a lengthy and detailed e-mail to its members on Thursday, CASE lays out what's happening with contract talks ("... the Bargaining Team will continue to negotiate ..."), litigation ("... we have filed numerous briefs in our various furlough lawsuits ...") and minimum wage ("... , it is possible that pay for the July pay period ... could be in jeopardy ...")

In an analysis of the promise made by Schwarzenegger that unions with tentative agreements won't be subject to minimum wage, the CASE letter notes:

June 29, 2010
UAPD explains its tentative agreement to members

As of Monday afternoon, DPA hadn't yet posted the tentative agreements it has reached with six unions. But here's a Friday evening e-mail sent to UAPD to members that outlines the union's tentative labor agreement with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

UAPD Bargaining Team Signs Tentative Agreement with State

On Friday afternoon, the UAPD Bargaining Team signed a Tentative Agreement on a new Memorandum of Understanding with the State of California.  Much of the language agreed to by UAPD will be familiar to members, as it follows the pattern set by four unions who settled their contracts last week.  While some concessions have been made, UAPD's agreement also makes improvements in areas like CME and holidays, and it goes a long way towards protecting core contractual items like salary and health benefits.   It also ensures that UAPD members will continue to be paid their full salaries even in the event of a budget impasse, an important guarantee for many of our members.  

Complete details of the Tentative Agreement will be mailed to UAPD members next week, along with a paper ratification ballot.  The UAPD Bargaining Team unanimously recommends ratification of the agreement. 
The two-year agreement (July 1, 2010 - July 1, 2012) includes:

June 23, 2010
State issues memo on furloughs, minimum wage

Department of Personnel Administration Director Debbie Endsley has sent a memo to all California state agencies that lays out the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's position on furloughs (they're over ... for now) and the possibility of employee pay being withheld to minimum wage (he'll do it if there's no budget).

The latter assumes, of course, that the 3rd District Court of Appeals doesn't overturn a lower court ruling that State Controller John Chiang overstepped his authority by refusing to implement a similar wage withholding order during the 2008-09 budget impasse.

Here's the memo, which at least some agencies are forwarding to their workers:

Here's an update on the furlough and minimum wage situations.

With respect to furloughs, the current program ends June 30, and the Administration expects the State to resume normal hours of operation in July. The Governor's budget proposal includes four proposals to reduce employee compensation costs: a wage cut, one day per month of unpaid leave, increased employee contributions to pensions, and the workforce cap. The Governor retains the right and authority to order furloughs if necessary to address a fiscal and cash crisis.

As for the prospect of state workers receiving minimum wage in lieu of full wages, it will depend on when the Legislature and the Governor reach a budget agreement. The California Supreme Court ruled in 2003 (White v. Davis) that absent an appropriation, which for most of the payroll comes through the annual state budget, the Controller is prohibited from paying state workers beyond what is required by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Absent a state budget, we will send instructions to the Controller to pay wages in accordance with the FLSA for the July pay period.

The four unions that recently reached tentative agreements on new contracts (CHP officers, firefighters, psychiatric technicians, and some medical professionals) would not be subject to any new furlough program or minimum wage payments, assuming their contracts are ratified in a timely manner.

Debbie Endsley

June 19, 2010
CalPERS names new chief actuary
State employee news stacked up last week while we focused our efforts on reporting this week's significant labor contract news and wrapped up a story scheduled for tomorrow's Bee about state employee leave. 

So we're just now getting around to other news of state worker interest, like Wednesday's announcement that CalPERS has named Alan Milligan as its new chief actuary. A 10-year CalPERS veteran, Milligan was deputy to recently retired chief actuary Ron Seeling and had been serving as interim chief.

We have the memo circulated to CalPERS' staff earlier this week announcing Milligan's promotion.
June 15, 2010
Controller's July payroll figure assumes state worker pay cut

100615 Controller pay chart.JPG

A new post on Controller John Chiang's website mentions state employee payroll is one of several obligations that his office will continue to pay even if lawmakers fail to pass a budget by the end of this month.

Chiang spokesman Jacob Roper said that the payroll figure, $2.1 billion for July, comes from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May budget revision and assumes the payroll cost reductions he has proposed for fiscal 2010-11. The governor has proposed cutting all state workers' pay by 5 percent and upping their pension contributions by another 5 percent of their gross pay, but there's no sign an agreement will be in place before the fiscal year begins July 1 to implement the pay cuts.

The controller also sent this letter to lawmakers, triggered by their usual failure to get a budget done by the June 15 deadline laid out in the constitution.

"At a time when the economy is showing signs of recovery, we can ill-afford the 'business as usual' approach of requiring the state to be driven to the brink of a fiscal meltdown before compromise is achieved."

This story by Bee Capitol Bureau colleague Jim Sanders has more about the largely symbolic deadline.

June 11, 2010
CCPOA says that its contract offers 'have fallen on deaf ears'

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:

June 10, 2010
From the notebook: Read the Wong-Martinusen memo

"From the notebook" blog posts give you the notes, quotes and details that inform news stories that we write for The Sacramento Bee.

Our story in today's Bee references a internal memo written by Controller John Chiang's Chief of Staff, Collin Wong-Martinusen, that lays out the possible financial and legal repercussions if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger successfully orders state worker pay withheld to the federal minimum.

We confirmed with the controller's office that Wong-Martinusen wrote the unsigned document, which was issued on plain paper and sent to state labor leaders.

The memo speculates on a worst-case outcome of Chiang's appeal of a trial court decision that he lacks the authority to reject DPA pay letters to temporarily withhold employee wages during a budget impasse. The appeal is set for oral arguments in the 3rd District Court of Appeal on June 21, nine days before the end of the fiscal year.

And at the end of the memo, Wong-Martinusen suggests reaching out to U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and get her read on whether a minimum wage order violates of the Federal Labor Standards Act. Solis was one of more than two dozen California Congressional representatives who opposed withholding state employee wages during the 2008 budget impasse.

Around the same time the memo was circulated, SEIU Local 1000 told its members to brace themselves for a temporary pay reduction.

Click here to read the memo.

June 8, 2010
SEIU Local 1000: Take threat of minimum wage 'very seriously'

Yvonne_Walker_small.jpgSeiu Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker has posted a letter on the union's website warning the 95,000 state workers the organization represents to brace themselves for a drastically smaller July paycheck.

In the event a state budget is not in place by June 30, the California Superior Court has granted the governor the authority to impose federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The pay reduction, if ordered by the governor, would be reflected in the Aug. 1 paycheck for most state employees.

... It is important that all workers represented by Local 1000 take the possibility of minimum wage very seriously.

... I encourage you to take steps to protect yourself and your family from this potential fiscal abuse by the governor.

If the Department of Personnel Administration issues letters to withhold state worker pay to the federal minimum and Controller John Chiang complies, the temporary reductions would impact 241,000 state workers and another 73,000 California State University employees. The law allows for that when lawmakers fail to pass a budget on time that includes an appropriation for employee payroll, as we explained in this post.

The x factor in all of this is the scheduled June 21 Gilb v. Chiang hearing before the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento. Will the court overturn Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley's decision that the controller has to comply and issue checks withheld to the minimum wage? Will the appellate court issue a ruling in time to affect July payroll? Could the court's decision come quickly enough to affect budget talks now threatening to run past the June 30 end of the fiscal year?

Click here to read Walker's letter to members.

PHOTO: Yvonne Walker / Sacramento Bee file photo

June 4, 2010
Schwarzenegger responds to Steinberg blast

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has responded to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's criticism of the administration's bargaining tactics and topics. Here's a snippet of a letter just released by the governor's office:

The CalPERS transparency legislation you referenced in your letter is most definitely among the issues being raised in negotiations with the unions. As I have made clear since my State of the State address in January, our unsustainable pension costs must be addressed this year. I have tried to be as up front about this as I possibly can: I will not sign a budget this year without budget reform and pension reform.

While my administration is negotiating in good faith with the unions on all aspects of the pension reform measures we are proposing, there are four elements that must be done legislatively separate and apart from any memorandums of understanding:

  1. Roll back the expansion of pension benefits adopted in Senate Bill 400 (Chapter 555, Statutes of 1999) for all new hires upon adoption by the Legislature.
  2. Permanent five percent increase in employee pre-tax contribution toward retirement benefits.
  3. Calculate the retirement rate based on the highest three years of wages during employment instead of the highest single year.
  4. Require the CalPERS' chief actuary to submit a report to the Legislature on investment return assumptions based on both lower and higher estimates than the actuarial return assumption and have this report evaluated by a qualified third party.

Click here to read the governor's letter to Steinberg.

May 25, 2010
Attorney defends judge who made key furlough decision

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Gavel.jpgHere's an e-mail The State Worker received from Mark Sollitt, an Elk Grove-based attorney who took exception to our May 6 column, "Furlough litigants shop for judges."

Sollitt gave us permission to post his unedited e-mail, which was sent on May 7. (Owing to the volume of e-mail The State Worker receives, we didn't see it until Monday).

May 24, 2010
Why the Supremes said 'no,' then 'yes' to furlough review

McGeorge School of Law professor and private-practice attorney Athena Roussos is one of several legal experts we consult when writing about pivotal moments in furlough litigation. Last week we quoted Roussos in this story about the state Supreme Court taking up CASE v. Schwarzenegger.

This morning Roussos e-mailed The State Worker with a few more thoughts about why the court took the case less than a month after it rejected Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's request that it consolidate and consider seven others. With her permission we're posting the e-mail here, unedited:

May 19, 2010
Sacramento judge responds to recent 'judge shopping' column

Our May 6 State Worker column, which looked at "judge shopping" and whether it works in furlough lawsuits, prompted plenty of comments and calls, including a critical letter from an authoritative reader: the Hon. Steve White, Sacramento Superior Court's presiding judge.

Here's the top of White's May 17 letter:

100518 White letter.JPG

Click here to read the rest of the judge's criticism.

April 23, 2010
State worker responds to call for union concessions

As is always the case when we highlight state worker e-mails, this post by Paul Warrick generated plenty of comments. Another state worker, Roger Wood, felt compelled to respond to Warrick's call for SEIU Local 1000 "to make highly publicized concessions to demonstrate a good faith effort to be part of the solution to California's deficit crisis."

With Wood's permission, we're posting his e-mail to The State Worker here, unedited. He speaks for himself, not his employer or this blog:

Mr. Ortiz,

As a manager who works in the Unemployment Insurance system, I find Mr. Warrick's comments ill-informed. All the furlough has done for our employees is to make their lives harder. We are still working 5-6 days a week as we have "self-directed" furloughs so our centers are still open the same hours as they were prior to the furloughs being implemented. Were we to be closed 3 days a month and also not allowed to work Saturdays, this could easily result in a 15% reduction in the benefits paid out to the public. We paid out $20.3 billion in benefits in 2009. A 15% reduction of over $3 billion would have helped no one and would have hurt families who depend on the monies to survive and local businesses who depend on people being able to buy goods and landlords who depend on people paying rent. In addition, our budget is almost exclusively federally funded which means our furloughs have saved the state almost nothing. In addition other state agencies which collect revenues have had to cut back on their work. When staff use their furlough days in addition to whatever time they have scheduled off, it simply means that less work can get done, meaning even less checks get sent out to the needy.

I may not have expressed myself perfectly, but I hope you understand what I am trying to say. If the staff ever gets tired and stops working overtime on Saturdays and holidays, the public is really going to be hurting. Cutting our salaries to balance the budget is not the answer. We already have enough of a problem hiring qualified people and keeping them from leaving for private employers or better paying other state jobs. A salary cut would only exacerbate the problem.

Roger WOOD

April 22, 2010
State worker says unions should make concessions, rehab image

In a recent e-mail to SEIU Local 1000 leaders and copied to this blog, state worker Paul Warrick laid out a plan that he believes would ease labor tensions and begin to "turn the tide against our negative public image."

We're posting Warrick's e-mail here, unedited and with his permission. We received it prior to Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth's introduction of his pension bill, SB 919.

Warrick's e-mail represents his opinion. It shouldn't be interpreted as speaking for his employer, his union or this blog.

For purposes of my argument, there are 2 types of people in CA; state employees and those who resent them. A key component of any prospective politician's campaign for statewide office is to suggest that he or she will go after state employees. That's an automatic vote getter, except for the mitigating fact that it's part of every candidate's campaign.

As I've intimated in prior emails, you won't be able to accomplish much on behalf of state employees unless you can turn the tide against our negative public image. You have to take favorable facts like those published in the Bee's attached editorial (4/19/10) and widely disseminate them. You have to enlighten the public to the fact that state employees are not a significant component of California's budget woes. (except for Corrections of course which is a separate argument)

In conjunction with a massive effort to eradicate the public's negative misconceptions, SEIU needs to make highly publicized concessions to demonstrate a good faith effort to be part of the solution to California's deficit crisis. As the furloughs come to an end and you begin to negotiate a new contract with the governor's office, SEIU should go public with an itemization of the concessions state employees are willing to make. You need to strike first. These are only suggestions:

Click the following link to read the details of Warrick's plan.

March 25, 2010
Departments affected by the Roesch ruling

By our count (and with the help of eagle-eyed State Worker blog users), there are 68 departments named in the three furlough lawsuits at the heart of Wednesday's furlough stay ruling by Judge Frank Roesch.

Click here for SEIU Local 1000's latest list, which it says it will update as appropriate.

In this letter to members, CASE lists 60 departments.

Click the following link to see for the 68 furlough-exempt departments we've counted. If we've missed one, please shoot an e-mail our way and include a PDF of or a link to the court document that shows the excluded department is part of the "special fund" group.

March 19, 2010
From the notebook: Read Iwasaki's resignation letter

We can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

This blog reported on Thursday that Caltrans Director Randell Iwasaki has resigned his post, effective April 15. (The Bee also ran a short story in today's print and online editions.)

We have Iwasaki's resignation letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Click here to read it.

February 26, 2010
State to issue social media guidelines for agencies, departments

State Chief Information Officer Teri Takai will announce a new social media policy today that requires agencies and departments perform due diligence and consider a number of factors when using twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the like.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and several state departments already use those kinds of tools to reach the public. The governor had 1,656,153 people following his tweets as of 4 p.m. on Thursday. About two dozen state agencies, departments and programs have Facebook accounts.

The Department of General Services has this myspace page. DMV uses YouTube to deliver education videos like the one at the top of this post.

Takai is supposed to officially release the state's social media policy today around noon.

Click here to read the new social media standard. This link opens Takai's IT Policy Letter to agencies and departments.

February 12, 2010
The 'letter to Meg Whitman'

In the last week, several dozen blog users have forwarded an e-mail to The State Worker with the subject line, "A letter to Meg Whitman." The e-mail purports to be a Sept. 28 letter to Whitman written by an anonymous DGS employee that takes the GOP gubernatorial candidate to task for, among other things, a "... lack of value and respect of all state workers and the work we do to keep California healthy, safe and strong."

From what we can tell, the missive has become a chain letter that hundreds, possibly thousands, of people are passing along via the exponential multiplying power of the Web.

Some of the folks who forwarded the letter demanded that we post it on this blog. "Will you have the guts?" one person wrote.

No, we're not going to post the letter. But it's not a matter of courage.

We often post e-mails submitted to The State Worker that criticize public figures and people in power. We appreciate thoughtful, provocative e-mails that say something new or that say something in a new way. Those posts are consistently some of the best-read on this blog. (Click here for an example from last month.)

But we have a rule: If you want the forum, the price of admission is your name. Anonymity is for the comment section that follows every post.

We don't know the origin of the Whitman letter, either. Perhaps the author wouldn't want it put on a blog. That leads us to our second rule: We never post e-mails without the author's explicit permission.

We think that's fair.

February 11, 2010
Union lobbyist: 'Illegal' pay cuts would 'do irreparable harm' to labor relations

The notion that lawmakers could enact state worker pay cuts without union input has prompted the California Labor Federation to weigh in with a letter to legislators that can be summed up in three words: Don't do it.

A few excerpts from federation lobbyist Caitlin Vega's letter:

... For more than thirty years, state employees have been covered by collective bargaining laws. Never before has the State attempted to suspend or violate those laws. Through Republican and Democratic administrations, collective bargaining has been respected and adhered to as an effective tool to promote cooperative labor relations and reach fair agreements ...

... The proposal to cut worker pay outside the collective bargaining process also conflicts with the law. The Dills Act, which authorized collective bargaining for state employees, requires the State to bargain over changes to employee compensation. To make such changes unilaterally is not only illegal, but will do irreparable harm to labor relations in this state.

This is not an academic argument. This is about real families who are depending on those wages, the health benefits, and the economic security the contract provides. Cutting worker pay in a recession will only cause more families to fall into poverty, add to the foreclosures, and increase reliance on the ever shrinking safety net ....

Click here to read the entire letter.

February 8, 2010
SEIU president fires off holiday letters to state executives

Thumbnail image for 081208 Yvonne Walker.JPgThe day before a San Francisco judge said the Department of Personnel Administration was within legal bounds when it told state workers to treat Columbus Day and the upcoming Lincoln's Birthday like any other workday, SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker sent letters to about 130 department and agency heads.

Click the following link to read more about what Walker said.

February 5, 2010
EDD executive thanks the troops for hard work

heading_edd.jpgHere's a case of management saying, "Thank you."

EDD Chief Deputy Director Pam Harris sent a memo and e-card to Unemployment Insurance staff this afternoon, praising them "for rising to the occasion and overcoming historic challenges in this deepest recession since the Great Depression" in 2009.

The e-mail lays out figures that are difficult to comprehend because of the enormity of the numbers, such as 6.5 million initial claims processed by staff and $20.2 billion in benefit payments delivered.

Click here for Harris' e-mail to staff. This link will open the e-card.

February 5, 2010
CASE letter addresses labor talks, holiday lawsuit loss

So now it begins.

In a letter to members, the CASE Board of Directors said Wednesday that it has been approached by the Schwarzenegger administration to restart labor talks:

Moreover, we have recently been summoned back to the bargaining table by DPA, and we expect that DPA will pass a version of the Governor's "5-5-5" proposal. ... We will do everything in our power to protect the already depressed salaries and benefits of CASE members.

As if the state's abysmal finances weren't obstacle enough, Schwarzenegger, CASE and the other unions are rekindling talks under clouds of bitter litigation over everything from furloughs to layoffs to whether the state legally eliminated two paid holidays without union consent.

Click the following link to read more about CASE's letter to members.

January 21, 2010
Column extra: Read the unions' letter to Steinberg and Bass

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 and the observations that don't make the cut.

Today's column looks at union efforts to move legislation that would make state employee wages a continuous budget appropriation. This post has more about the issue and links you to the stalled legislation, AB 1125. As we explain in the column, the bill has virtually no chance of becoming law, but the unions want it put to a vote anyway.

The column quotes from a joint letter by state labor executives to Sen. Darrell Steinberg and Assemblywoman Karen Bass that underscores their worries that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger might order wages temporarily withheld to the federal minimum this summer.

In the absence of an on-time budget, the state doesn't have authority to issue payroll above the federally mandated minimum, so if the budget talks lock up like they did two years ago, state worker pay could be withheld to $7.25 per hour until a budget is passed. Then the state would restore wages and issue back pay.

You can read the coalition's letter by clicking here.

January 13, 2010
State worker speaks out on Schwarzenegger's pay cut plan

California Department of Social Services employee Jim Reilley sent the following e-mail to The State Worker. We post it here with his permission and the understanding that he speaks for himself, not his employer or any labor organization:

From: Reilley, Jim
Sent: Monday, January 11, 2010
To: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Subject: Furloughs or Pay Cut

Ok, why would we agree to essentially a 10% pay cut & work all days when we can have a 15% pay cut and have 3 days off? Even a kid can do the math on that one.

Arnold thinks the threat of layoffs will motivate this but there are far too many state workers immune from layoffs to get that approved. Also, even vulnerable workers are really mad, teetering on bankruptcy and were literally counting on a full restoration in June 2010. Unlikely they would or even could accept anything other than a 5% cut. They'd be more likely to strike than capitulate to a permanent deal that financially they simply cannot afford.

Finally, even if we agreed to this it would not take effect until the July 2010 pay period essentially meaning we would not see the effect until our August 2010 paycheck. With Arnold leaving in January 2011 we would only have 6 months left before we could negotiate with the new Governor. We would get a WAY better deal from Jerry (assuming he's elected), so why do a deal for 6 months when you can get a way better deal after a short wait?

Unless the Gov lowers it to a TOTAL of 5% pay reduction (divide it up how you want between pay/benefits) the members & likely the legislature also, will never approve any deal.

If they would simply cut the targeted programs/services with the accompanying layoffs, we would not need any furloughs across the board. All of this is because the legislature refuses to cut unsustainable programs that WILL be cut -- only delaying the inevitable at the cost to all State employees. We all pay so that a few thousand jobs that will be cut anyway can be saved for a few more months. WORKERS should be screaming at SEIU to do these cuts and save the majority from this subsidization of doomed workers.

Jim Reilley
CDSS Senior Legal Analyst

January 8, 2010
Read Schwarzenegger's open budget letter to state workers

Thumbnail image for Schwarzenegger.jpgGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is about to issue an open letter to state workers affected by his budget proposal to end furloughs in July in exchange for pay cuts and increased pension contributions. Click here to read the letter.

December 22, 2009
Is the governor's OK for holiday time off hypocritical?

We've been meaning to note that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger approved 4 hours of informal time off for state workers, just as he and other governors have done for years during the holiday season. The Department of Personnel Administration issued this PML on Dec. 7. Some departments have just recently sent official word to their employees.

And here's an e-mail sent to The State Worker by SEIU activist Mike Bonner, who works at the Department of Community Services and Development. We publish it here, unedited, with his permission. Bonner is speaking for himself, not for his employer or for the union:

Well this year he didn't make us wait until the last minute. Despite all the protests from the Governor and his spokes-people over the last year, and contrary to his efforts to eliminate 2 state worker holidays (since we already have too much time off!!!), the Governor has once again granted the completely discretionary 4 hours of time off to use either for ½ day on Christmas Eve or ½ day on New Year's eve, and most department directors will grant an additional 4 hours of time off to make it a full day.

If the real reason the Governor wants to take our 2 holidays away from us is that we have too many paid holidays, why does he continually grant us the additional discretionary holiday hours year after year? It's all about control, Jon, when the Governor isn't in control (i.e. when there's an existing contract he didn't negotiate for example) then he's all about taking things away, when it's something in his power, then it's a different story and he doesn't have a problem "giving" us extra time. What a hypocrite! (Not that I don't appreciate the extra time, btw!)

Have a good one!

Mike Bonner, Steward
SEIU Local 1000, DLC 784

December 22, 2009
Union: Alameda furlough lawsuit ruling 'any day'

The board of directors for California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employment issued an update of various lawsuits it is pursuing on behalf of members or that it's following with great interest.

Four of the six cases mentioned in the memo to members involve furlough lawsuits. Here's what the e-mail says about the Alameda case:

We are anticipating a ruling from the Alameda County Superior Court any day. As you may have heard, Judge Roesch issued a favorable ruling to CCPOA on Thursday, December 17th. That case was argued the same day as the CASE Petition, and while there are discrete legal issues between the two cases, certainly the ruling in the CCPOA matter suggests that the judge takes a dim view of the notion that the Governor can declare an indefinite "emergency" and use that emergency to assert extraordinary power not conferred by law.

Click here to read the memo CASE issued on Friday. And our constantly updated Furlough Fights spreadsheet lays out the cases, the players and the arguments in all 23 of the furlough lawsuits now active in the courts.

December 14, 2009
Read the administration's letter to EDD about delayed UI checks

As reported by the Associated Press over the weekend, staff at the Employment Development Department worked through the weekend to process unemployment benefits checks.

The Bee reported last week that EDD fell behind issuing checks after the federal government approved funds to extend the benefit. That story and others prompted Labor Secretary Victoria Bradshaw to fire off a letter to EDD Director Patrick Henning to express the administration's frustration. Henning is leaving his post at the end of this year.

(Worth noting: The federal government has been concerned with EDD's productivity in light of furloughs. This link opens our post about the fed's concerns. Clicking here opens our report on the state's response.)

The governor's office released the Bradshaw letter Friday afternoon. We just discovered it in our e-mail pile, but thought blog users would still want to read it.

Here's the first paragraph:

As we have discussed, I am concerned by the time it is taking to update the Employment Development Department's outdated computer system and the resulting delay in the dispersal of unemployment benefits. I understand the difficulties presented by multiple federal extensions, but ensuring that unemployed Californians receive their benefit checks in a timely manner is of paramount concern to the unemployed and to the economy of CA in this economy.

Click here to read the entire letter.

November 12, 2009
More about the scuffle at SEIU's Sacramento offices

Ken Hamidi, the state worker at the center of a scuffle that took place at SEIU Local 1000's field office last week, has continued to insist that he was a victim of a plot to intimidate him and silence his criticism of the union.

Hamidi has talked about the matter on a popular Southern California radio program and says he plans to file a lawsuit. And Local 1000 leaders have been told not to talk about what happened -- even to each other -- because the case could wind up in criminal and civil court.

Hamidi and an associate, Kim McElroy, tried to take a video camera into a meeting at Local 1000's downtown Sacramento field office last Thursday. The event that they wanted to record, according to Hamidi and several sources familiar with the matter, was an organizational meeting for the Cathy Hackett for CalPERS campaign. Hackett, a former Local 1000 officer the union has endorsed, is in a run-off election against J.J. Jelincic for a seat on the fund's Board of Administration.

Click the following link to read Hamidi's accusation that Hackett and Local 1000 leaders conspired to have him roughed up, and to read Walker's advice to union leaders in the wake of the altercation.

November 6, 2009
'Pension fighter' vows renewed battle to alter retirement benefits

Paul McCauley, the Southern California accountant who has authored several initiatives aimed at cutting public employee pension benefits, has responded to our inquiries after his latest measure failed to gain enough signatures to make the ballot. (Click here to read the specifics of the McCauley Pension Recovery Act and its failure to gain 433,971 signatures it needed by Oct. 15 to qualify for a statewide vote.)

October 8, 2009
Read DPA's formal withdrawal from the SEIU tentative agreement

mail.jpgIn 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: / Francesco Marino

October 2, 2009
CalPERS issues detailed handwashing instructions

HandWashing_250px.jpgIt must be flu season.

This memo came our way from a State Worker blog user who first sent it to another state employee with the note, "Can you believe?"

From: OSSD, Facilities Management Unit
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 4:45 PM
To: Exchange Users, HQ
Subject: Preparing for the Upcoming Flu Season

Keeping hands clean is one of the most important ways to prevent the spread of infection and illness. In preparation for the upcoming flu season, soap dispensers will be installed in all break rooms and coffee stations by October 14. In addition,
12-oz bottles of hand sanitizers will be placed at these locations, as well as all public counters. Large 2-liter bottles of hand sanitizers are on backorder with an anticipated delivery during October. Here are a few helpful tips:

When washing hands with soap and water:
Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap. Use warm water if it is available.
Rub hands together to make a lather and scrub all surfaces.
Continue rubbing hands for 15-20 seconds. Need a timer? Imagine singing "Happy Birthday" twice.
Rinse hands well under running water.
Dry your hands using a paper towel.
Always use soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.

Alcohol-based hand rubs significantly reduce the number of germs on skin and are fast-acting. When using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer:
Apply product to the palm of one hand.
Rub hands together.
Rub the product over all surfaces of hands and fingers until hands are dry.

At home, hand washing can prevent infection and illness from spreading from family member to family member and, sometimes throughout a community. In the home, the basic rule is to wash hands before preparing food, after handling uncooked meat and poultry, before eating, after changing diapers, after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one's nose into a tissue, and after using the bathroom.

Help us keep yourself and others healthy!

Please reply if you have questions about this information. Thank you.

Facilities Management Unit
Operations Support Services Division
California Public Employees' Retirement System


September 21, 2009
Commission to employees: Don't dress like you're at the lake

CEC_BANNER_WEBSITE.jpgHere's a note sent to Energy Commission employees earlier this month. We've confirmed its authenticity with commission spokesman Bob Aldrich.

"The memo was prompted by inappropriate clothing worn recently by one of our newer (and younger) staff members," he said in an e-mail to The State Worker.

State of California The Natural Resources Agency of California

M e m o r a n d u m

All Staff
September 9, 2009
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street
Sacramento CA 95814-5512



Deciding what to wear to the office can be tough throughout the year but the sweltering temperatures of the summer heat can present a new set of issues. The Energy Commission does not have a formal dress code; however, it does have guidelines. These guidelines are provided in the Administrative Staff Procedures and state that employees are to dress and present themselves in a professional manner.

During the summer months employees tend to dress more casually. Even though the heat can be uncomfortable, professional attire is still the expected dress for all meetings with outside parties, including staff from the Governor's Office and legislature, all public meetings, Commission Business Meetings, meetings with Commissioners, and meetings at the Capitol. When dressing casually, staff should dress appropriately for the office environment and avoid dressing as if you were spending the day on a lake. If an employee's attire offends another employee, the issue should be addressed with management, the employee's supervisor or the Energy Commission's Equal Employment Officer.

It is important to project a professional image at the workplace. To assist employees with this goal, the Training Office will be hosting a seminar in the next few months on Dressing for Success. Details about the seminar will be posted on the Intranet as an "All Staff News Flash". If you have questions on what attire is appropriate in the workplace, you are encouraged to discuss them with your supervisor or staff in the Personnel and Labor Relations Office.

Thanks to blog user G for passing this along.


September 9, 2009
Caltrans district director sets 'core business hours' for workers

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 081212 caltrans_logo.gifMany Caltrans employees continue to fume over outgoing Director Will Kempton's message that the department has ended alternative work schedules for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

In response, District Director Raymond Wolfe last week sent an e-mail to employees in his district outlining his work schedule policy. We're posting the e-mail here after confirming its authenticity with the department:

Click the link below to read the e-mail.

August 20, 2009
Schwarzenegger official responds to pension reform critic

David Crane, senior adviser for jobs and economic growth to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, has responded to a press release by CalPERS board candidate J.J. Jelincic that criticized the administration's push for public employee pension reform as an "attack" on civil servants. You can read the TSW post of Jelincic's release by clicking here.

Here's part of what Crane said in an e-mail passed along to us by Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear:

It appears that Mr. Jelincic doesn't understand the governor's proposal or the impact on government programs from unfunded pension promises. But he is correct about one thing: No pension reform proposal can do anything about all the existing and massive unfunded pension liabilities already in place. Unfortunately, those massive costs were set in stone in 1999 when legislators passed legislation (SB400) that retroactively and prospectively increased pension benefits by tens of billions of dollars and compounded through decades of underfunding because of the use by CalPERS of GM-style pension accounting designed to understate the real cost of pension promises. Unfortunately we're seeing the terrible consequences of these actions today as billions are slashed from domestic violence shelters, health and human services, parks and recreation and more programs in order to pay off past unfunded pension promises.

Click here to read the entire unedited e-mail.

August 19, 2009
A silver lining in furlough days?

While last week's look at the impact of furloughs on downtown Sacramento businesses created a stir because it raised questions about how many days gubernatorial staff are furloughed, a Folsom business owner had a different angle on the story.

Here's the e-mail restaurant owner Richard Righton sent to Bee reporter (and Home Front co-blogger), Jim Wasserman, presented here with Righton's permission:

From: richard righton
Sent: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 8:57 AM
To: Wasserman, Jim - Sacramento
Subject: Bidwell Street Bistro

Just wanted to drop you an e mail to put a positive spin on your "furlough Friday downtown" article.

The last couple of furlough Fridays have been incredibly busy here at the bistro in Folsom -- I think due to more people staying and eating in Folsom rather than going to work in downtown.


Richard Righton
Bidwell Street Bistro
1004 East Bidwell Street
Ca 95630
916 984 7500

August 17, 2009
State workers: 'I am beyond scared' and 'We'll manage'

We get hundreds of e-mails each week. These two from state workers Trish Terrell and Jake Johnson, however, stood out for their brevity, clarity and thoughtfulness.

Both writers agreed to allow us to post their words here, unedited. They speak for themselves, not their employers.

Click the link below to read the e-mails.

August 13, 2009
Is SEIU bringing a knife to a gun fight?

Our State Worker column in Thursday's Bee prompted Frank Stone to send an e-mail to SEIU Local 1000 officials with a Cc to us. We're posting Stone's e-mail here, unedited, with his permission:

From: Stone, Frank V.
Sent: Thursday, August 13, 2009 8:09 AM
Cc: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Subject: Furlough Fridays

Ms. Walker, I've been trying to figure out how and why MY union has been getting blown out of court rooms up and down California!!!!!!!!!! Well I got my answer when I read the SacBee this morning...................MY union has been using IN-HOUSE attorneys to do battle with my sorry governor in all these furlough lawsuits!!!!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me, what a joke when is the light going to go off in that pea brain of yours????????????? SEIU Local 1000 needs to spend some or more or maybe all of that union due money you are extorting from the Great State of California's state workers on OUTSIDE law firms!!!!!!!!!!!! If we're not getting paid then why should you or the rest of your cronies who sit on SEIU Local 1000's so-called " Board of Dictators ". These furloughs have gone on way too long and as I see it and I'm sure the 200,000 plus State Workers see it, you and the rest of the worthless " Board of Dictators " need to step down NOW!!!!!!!!!!! The "Board of Dictators" inabilities to fight these furloughs with experienced OUTSIDE law firms has left many of us state workers in financial ruin and a hate for this union that will last until the day we dye(sic)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Step down NOW so we can restock the "Board of Dictators" with honest to goodness people who actually know what they are doing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Frank V. Stone
DMV, Inventory/Budget Analyst

August 10, 2009
Read the controversial 'retail e-mail' from Department of Health

Last week a Bay Area news station ran a story about state workers upset over a Department of Health memo that the piece said suggested people find retail work on their furlough days.

Click here to read our earlier post and view the KGO-TV piece.

We called the department and asked for the e-mail. Here it is:

Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 8:55 AM
To: CDPH All Exchange Users
Subject: Secondary Employment Activities

CDPH recognizes that employees who are facing the challenges of dealing with loss of income due to the three mandated furlough days each month may need to supplement their income through secondary employment. While this is a personal choice and the department wants to be as supportive as it can be to its employees, it is important to remember the guidelines concerning a second job.

In accordance with Government Code Section 19990, employees should not engage in any employment, activity or enterprise which is clearly inconsistent, incompatible or in conflict with his or her duties as a State employee.

An employee's outside employment, activity, or enterprise may be prohibited if it:
(1) involves the use for private gain or advantage of his or her time, facilities, equipment and supplies; or the badge, uniform, prestige, or influence of his or her office or employment or,
(2) involves receipt or acceptance by the officer or employee of any money or other consideration from anyone other than his or her department for the performance of an act which the officer or employee, if not performing such act, would be required or expected to render in the regular course or hours of his or her employment or as a part of his or her duties as an employee or,
(3) involves the performance of an act in other than his or her capacity as an employee which act may later be subject directly or indirectly to the control, inspection, review, audit, or enforcement of any other officer or employee or the agency by which he or she is employed, or
(4) involves the time demands as would render performance of his or her duties as an employee less efficient,
(5) involves using or having access to confidential information available by virtue of state employment for private gain or advantage or providing confidential information to person to whom issuance of this information has not been authorized.

It is not our intent to prevent or discourage outside employment opportunities; rather only to remind employees to be mindful of the types of employment that are compatible with their regular employment. Employment to venues such as Macys, Target, Kohls, etc. would not be considered in conflict with a State employee's regular employment. Working hours for the second employment would need to be of such a nature as not to impact the performance of an employee's regular employment.

For specific departmental requirements see Health Administration Manual (HAM), Section 8-1140, Outside Employment.

If you have any questions, please consult with the Human Resources Branch.

Please remember during these challenging times, that the Employment Assistance Program is also available to assist you

Sandra Cornwell, Chief
Human Resources Branch
California Department of Public Health

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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