The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

August 9, 2012
Column Extra: California's state worker layoff process

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.

Today's State Worker column references the complexity of the state's process for laying off employees. Using the flowchart below, we came up with 14 steps: three before a department announces a layoff and 11 steps during and after -- and that doesn't include what CalHR has to do.

The process is negotiated with unions. Here's a chart that lays it out, backed by nine pages of explanation:

August 9, 2012
Column Extra poll: Furloughs versus layoffs in California

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 today looks at why state employee unions may agree to speed up the layoff process in exchange for a no-furlough guarantee when labor contract talks commence next year.

Clearly, the best scenario for state employees would be pay raises, not any sort of pay reduction. And state workers and the unions say the state needs to pay more attention to soaring outsourcing costs.

But if the state budget continues to struggle and Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature again force the unions to accept some sort of payroll cut in fiscal 2013-14 to help close another deficit, what's the least-bad solution?

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:

July 13, 2012
A look back at Jerry Brown's furlough history
June 11, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker holds online meeting on bargaining, Jerry Brown's furlough

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Yvonne_Walker_small.jpgSEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker held an online town hall meeting on Saturday to discuss negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration over his proposal to cut employees' hours and pay by roughly 5 percent per month.

Formal talks started that day and continued Sunday. There's been no word on the status of the discussions or any agreement between the state's largest public employee's union and the administration.

In the following video, Walker says the union first proposed a four-day, 10-hours-per-day workweek, but that Brown's May budget revision give it a "twist": four 9.5-hour days.

Still, Walker gives Brown credit for including organized labor in his budget plans, for explaining to the unions why he wants $839 million in employee compensation cuts ($401 million from general fund wages) and for negotiating with the unions.

"I'm going to be honest with you. The 5 percent cut, that's real," Walker said, "But what's not real is how you get there. I think the bargaining teams have been spending a lot of time over this past week trying to get to that dollar amount in different ways."

May 18, 2012
Legislative Analyst says 4-day week for California workers 'problematic'

The Legislative Analyst's Office said today that Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to move state workers into a 4-day, 9.5-hour-per-day schedule would create some serious problems.

The criticisms conclude a lengthy analysis of Brown's state budget proposal to close what the administration estimates is a $15.7 billion budget deficit (the LAO says it's more than that). Among the issues raised with Brown's furlough plan:

• Employees won't use as much leave, which will increase the state's deferred costs.
• It will hinder interaction with government agencies that operate on regular schedules.
• It may not reduce energy costs.

Then the analyst makes this comment about cutting employee costs:

Employee compensation, including salaries and benefits, will cost the state's General Fund $10.5 billion in 2012-13. Given the severity of the state's budget shortfall, we think the Legislature will need to consider reductions in these costs. There are, however, no ideal ways to achieve such reductions.

Why? Bargaining, the analyst said, usually means some sort of trade-off that negates savings. Layoffs take a long time and can adversely affect services. Furloughs and leave programs carry deferred costs (see above). The Legislature could impose pay cuts, but that "could require the administration to negotiate with unions for new contracts under the terms of the Dills Act. Unilateral state actions of this type may produce significant state savings, but pose many concerns. Such concerns include negative effects on employee-management relations."

The report also discusses the state's job vacancies and changes that Brown is proposing to the way the state budgets for positions, including eliminating vacant positions.

Click here to open the LAO's report. Scroll down to the "Employee Compensation" section for more analysis about Brown's plan for the 4-day workweek and vacant positions.

February 13, 2012
Special agents group loses request to stop CA Justice Department layoffs

A Sacramento judge has refused to temporarily halt layoffs planned for the Department of Justice, leaving the path clear for about 80 employees to be shown the exits.

The Association of Special Agents, a subset of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, had sought the temporary restraining order from Judge Timothy Frawley. He turned the association down on Friday after hearing brief arguments from both sides.

Many DOJ employees heeded the layoff warnings last year and moved on to other jobs or retired. As of this morning, about 73 sworn officers and 8 non-sworn staff were in department jobs that will be eliminated, DOJ spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said in an email to The State Worker.

DOJ will terminate those workers on Friday, said ASA President Mike Loyd.

"They'll be handed their final check, shown the door and told, 'Thanks for your service,'" Loyd said.

When asked whether the ASA would keep up the fight, Loyd said, "Heck yeah."

The association alleges that Gov. Jerry Brown engineered the elimination of about 300 jobs -- most of them held by special agents in the department's anti-drug unit -- in retaliation for CSLEA's support of Republican Meg Whitman during the 2010 California gubernatorial race.

The Brown administration blamed the job cuts on Republicans' tax inflexibility during budget talks.

January 30, 2012
Department of Corrections sends out another 545 layoff warnings

Thumbnail image for 100625 CDCR logo.JPGThe California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has issued 545 layoff warning notices to employees, including 140 correctional officers.

Department officials said in this email that the letters went out Thursday and Friday, prompted by the penal system's shrinking inmate population. There are now 14,000 fewer people in California's state prisons than when Corrections and county jails launched so-called "realignment" on Oct. 1.

CDCR is still offering opportunities for staff in danger of layoff to move to jobs at other facilities with vacancies. "That offer stands but interested staff must act quickly," according to the Friday email announcing the layoffs.

From the outset, Corrections officials have said that the department's size will track with the prison population as it shrinks through attrition. That means more layoff notices and are coming.

Click here to open CDCR's layoff resources website.


January 24, 2012
State Fund pays out $30 million; 705 jobs still on chopping block

State Compensation Insurance Fund has paid $30 million to 971 state employees who agreed to leave the agency by Dec. 31 and give up their preferential rights to other state government jobs.

The exit payments averaged nearly $31,000 per departing employee in addition to any leave time they cashed out. The money went to staff members in danger of layoff who accepted the so-called "transition package" under terms negotiated by the quasi-public agency and Service Employees International Union Local 1000. It was the first time that state workers whose jobs were in danger received extra money to leave.

The quasi-public State Fund, which competes with private-sector workers compensation insurance carriers and receives no tax dollars, has been downsizing for a couple of years in response to its shrinking market share. About 1,800 employees in 26 job classifications slated for elimination could have taken the deal at an estimated cost of up to $50 million to State Fund.

On a related note, State Fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen forwarded a revised layoff list (embedded below) that shows that 705 jobs are still on the chopping block after the voluntary departures have been figured in.

(The "auth." column shows how many jobs the fund has authorized to keep. The "final potential layoff" column shows how many jobs will be cut. Adding the two columns together indicates how many positions currently exist.)

The biggest cuts are planned for Los Angeles County (181 jobs), Alameda County (143) and Orange County (86). Sacramento County stands to lose 36 jobs and San Joaquin County is facing a loss of 28 positions.
120123 SCIF Layoffs by Class and County

January 5, 2012
State Compensation Insurance Fund workers take pay to leave

Editors note, 12:20 p.m.: Details of the severance agreement have been added to this report.

Nearly 1,000 State Compensation Insurance Fund employees took an unusual severance package in December that required they leave their jobs by last Friday.

Fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen said that 971 employees accepted the so-called "transition package" under terms negotiated by the quasi-public agency and Service Employees International Union Local 1000. She said the total cost of the payouts isn't yet available.

About 1,800 employees in 26 job classifications slated for elimination could have taken the deal at an estimated cost of up to $50 million to State Fund.

State Fund employees who took the severance package waived their rights to preferential treatment for hiring into other state jobs and "probably" are not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, Vargen said.

The agency sells employee compensation insurance to businesses. Although its employees are in state civil service, State Fund doesn't receive any tax funding, so the money to cover the exit payments came from the fund's investment assets and insured client premiums, not taxpayer dollars.

December 16, 2011
California Justice Department budget cuts reduced

Thumbnail image for 110628 Kamala Harris Paul Kitagaki Jr 2010.JPGCalifornia Attorney General Kamala Harris earlier this week told Justice Department staff that only about one-third of the layoffs planned for the beginning of 2012 will actually occur after months of talks with Gov. Jerry Brown's office. About 200 of the layoffs would have hit sworn peace officers and virtually the department's entire Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.

While Harris was trying to get the money restored -- or at least gain some say about how the cuts would be applied -- the Association of Special Agents launched a media and Internet campaign aimed at increasing public pressure on the governor.

In an email Tuesday to staff, posted after the jump, Harris said the cuts have been reduced to 102 sworn officers and 21 support staff. That same day, Harris announced the creation of a new eCrime unit that will fight identity theft, child exploitation, piracy and other crimes that exploit high tech.

We confirmed the staff email's authenticity with department spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill and asked whether there was a connection between Tuesday's announcements: Was the budget cut modified to accommodate the new unit?

No, Gledhill said. The eCrime unit will employ only 20 people, eight of them investigators.

November 23, 2011
Drug agents sue Jerry Brown over impending layoffs

Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgThe Association of Special Agents is suing Gov. Jerry Brown and Department of Finance Director Ana Matosantos over targeted Department of Justice layoffs that the agents contend are politically motivated. The agents group is an affiliate of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.

Click here for Kevin Yamamura's report on Capitol Alert. Read our recent story about the political history that prompted the association's complaint by clicking here.

And here's the complaint filed in Sacramento Superior Court today:
Association of Special Agents v. Jerry Brown

November 22, 2011
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation updates jobs lists

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has posted a new list that shows where the agency is overstaffed and cutting jobs and where it is understaffed and is looking to fill positions.

The new "Over/Under Report" put up online late Monday afternoon replaces two earlier lists that were on CDCR's Layoff Resources page one that purported to list spots CDCR wants to fill at unstaffed facilities and another that registered overstaffing at facilities around the state.

The lists conflicted, however, and CDCR pulled them down three weeks ago.

To fully understand the new chart, which you can view by clicking here, you should read this explanation of the data.

November 21, 2011
State Fund's layoff deal unavailable for staff who already left

111111 axe.jpgA question has come up from a few State Worker blog users about the severance package that the State Compensation Insurance Fund is offering employees in danger of layoff: Can State Fund staff who recently decided to leave rather than move or be terminated get the package?

We didn't think the offer could be made retroactive, but just to be sure, we emailed the question to State Fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen.

"This is only for current employees in classifications identified for layoff," Vargen said in a responding email.


November 19, 2011
From the notebook: More about the State Fund severance deal

Thumbnail image for 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.

Want to dig more deeply into State Compensation Insurance Fund's agreement to pay up to $50 million in severance packages to exiting employees? Here you go:

The agreement between State Fund and SEIU Local 1000

The contract between State Fund and the "legally uninsured Departments of the State of California."

• The Nov. 9 SEIU Local 1000 "Union Update" flyer that explains how some employees at State Fund moved to avoid a layoff and then found out their jobs were in jeopardy anyway.

Our Oct. 9 story about State Fund layoffs.

November 18, 2011
State Fund 'transition' contract details jobs targeted for lay offs

As we reported earlier today, State Compensation Insurance Fund employees targeted for lay off can receive what amounts to severance pay if they volunteer to leave by Dec. 31.

Here's the 'transition package' State Fund negotiated with SEIU Local 1000:

November 18, 2011
State Fund agrees to severance package for laid-off staff

Editor's note, 4:20 p.m.: This post was changed to accurately reflect the state's business relationship with State Compensation Insurance Fund.

The quasi-public State Compensation Insurance Fund plans to give severance packages to hundreds of employees targeted for layoffs, a highly unusual decision that could cost the organization up to $50 million by the end of the year.

The move by State Fund's board won't directly impact taxpayers since the organization, which competes with private firms in the employee compensation insurance industry, operates on returns earned from investing its clients' premiums and not tax money.

It could, however, affect premiums for the fund's clients, including the state and what the state pays for the organization to administer its claims.

The fund has been in cost-cutting mode for more than a year, closing offices, cutting its vehicle fleet, consolidating operations and, most recently, announcing that it would lay off up to 1,800 employees. And the deal isn't a "golden handshake" that the fund is offering as an inducement, since it affects only employees already targeted for layoff.

State Fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen said the decision to offer what the organization is calling "transition payments" to departing workers "reflects the board's commitment to doing the right thing for employees facing layoff."

The agreement gives departing employees with seven or more years of State Fund service six months of gross salary plus another $9,000 "for of the loss of healthcare and other benefits," according to the an internal memo to the organization's staff.

Employees with less than seven years at State Fund would receive a payment equal to four months of gross salary plus $6,000 for lost benefits.

State Fund expects its layoff plan to be approved around the end of this month. Employees whose jobs are targeted for layoff will have until Dec. 15 to give notice of their intent to depart by Dec. 31.

Vargen said that State Fund has set aside the money to cover the payments as though all 1,800 employees decided to leave.

October 21, 2011
California prisons issuing 26,000 layoff warning notices

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is issuing some 26,000 layoff warning notices to its employees over the next few days as it begins downsizing and shifting some of its work to local governments.

It's not clear how many employees are actually in danger of losing their jobs. Corrections is sending out more notices than the number of positions it expects it will cut, said Judy Gelein, deputy director of human resources for the CDCR.

The state has already started shifting its responsibility for some newly sentenced criminals to counties, creating a "timing issue," Gelein said, to quickly evaluate Corrections' personnel needs and make changes.

The department started mailing the notices today to staff with fewer than 10 years of service . CDCR can only process about 6,000 notices per day for mailing, so the bad news will continue going out into next week.

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:

October 6, 2011
State business insurer laying off up to 1,800 employees

The quasi-public State Compensation Insurance Fund is planning to lay off between 1,500 and 1,800 employees in jobs that officials say have been crowded out by evolving technology and business practices as the insurer battles for market share and to hold down its expenses.

State Fund estimates it will save $150 million per year in employee costs. It's the first time the organization has announced layoffs since the Great Depression.

The fund's 7,300 employees around the state received word in an e-mail today from State Fund President and CEO Tom Rowe.

"We don't have all the details yet," Rowe said in the e-mail, "but we anticipate layoffs being effective by the 2nd Quarter of 2012."

Fund spokeswoman Jennifer Vargen said that officials aren't ready to announce which facilities or counties would see the biggest staffing cutbacks.

May 17, 2011
President Barack Obama talks about government work

A federal employee who is about to lose her job asked President Barack Obama, "I'm stressed. I'm worried. ... I definitely need a job. ... What would you do if you were me?"

Click the viewer to hear the president's response.

January 18, 2011
A.M. Reading: Budget interests; pensions; redevelopment rush

As leaders and lawmakers look at the coming budget year, various interests are promoting their favorite causes, as you'll see in this morning's selection of state worker/state budget news and views from California and around the country:

Brown's Countdown, Day 9: Special interests with hands in the budget pie
Most groups have not taken a formal position, but we assess where the major political powers are likely to stand in the months ahead:

Opposing view on public pensions: Blame Wall Street
With revenues plummeting during the economic crisis, states and cities across the country face real budget challenges. It is simply wrong, however, to suggest that modest retirement benefits paid to public service retirees are a cause, or even a part, of the budget problems facing governments

John Moorlach: Budget pain overlooks schools, pensions
... Gov. Brown should negotiate pension rollbacks. Government in-house attorneys will tell you that pension formulas can be increased but not decreased, I understand their bias, but I believe they are wrong. Pension formulas are a two-way street, and this should be explored, and quickly. What goes up can, and must, come down.

December 23, 2010
Column Extra: More about CDCR layoffs

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.

Our column in today's fiber/cyber Bee notes that at least 75 Corrections and Rehabilitation employees have received layoff warning notices. It's not clear how many of them are in positions that will be cut when the layoffs take effect on April 18, 2011.

A Dec. 13 letter from the Department of Personnel Administration to SEIU Local 1000 and the CDCR layoff plan we've seen show that most of the surplus jobs are held by education staff, clerical staff, custodians and cooks. The bargaining units impacted: 1, 3, 4, 15 and 20. "These staffing reductions are necessary due to employees being placed (from previous layoff plans) into non-existent positions," DPA said in its notification of the CDCR reductions to Local 1000.

Here's a list of CDCR institutions affected and the number of employees at each who are on the layoff list:

October 21, 2010
Corrections to lay off dentists

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is planning to eliminate 31 dentist jobs early next year.

The State Worker learned of the decision from this notice to members of the Union of American Physicians and Dentists and confirmed it with CDCR spokeswoman Terry Thornton.

The target date for the layoffs is Jan. 14. A total of 93 notices went out last month. Corrections has 294 prison dentists on staff.

Thumbnail image for 100625 CDCR logo.JPGWhile the UAPD note says that layoff warning notices went out, it doesn't mention that the department is going to hire dental hygienists to perform the routine cleanings and examinations. "We currently have just two hygienists in the entire system," Thornton said.

At $15,183 per month, a CDCR dentist earns more than three times the $4,763 hygienist monthly wage. The department plans to hire enough of the lower-salaried professionals to get the ratio down to 2000 inmates per each hygienist -- roughly two hygienists per dentist. That will free up prison dentists to focus on higher-level dental care.

Thornton said that the courts have signed off on the plan.

UAPD is one of six unions that reached new labor agreements with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last summer. The deal, which shields members from furloughs and minimum wage in exchange for pay and benefits concessions, doesn't include layoff protections.


October 15, 2010
State to issue layoff notices to janitors

101015 DGS logo.jpgThe state will soon issue layoff warnings to about 1,000 state custodians with the goal of eliminating about 450 jobs by the end of February, The State Worker has learned.

The layoffs have been prompted by the pending sale of 11 state buildings to California First LLC, a partnership that includes Texas-based Hines Interests and Antarctica Capital of New York.

Department of General Services spokesman Eric Lamoureux confirmed the plan to issue surplus notices by Nov. 1. The department will begin meeting with affected employees next week.

The new owner has "given indication they want to hire as many of our employees as possible," Lamoureux said. DGS will also help workers move to other government jobs. The affected employees are in Bargaining Unit 15 and are represented by SEIU Local 1000.

State layoff rules allow displaced employees who are more senior to "bump" those with less service time. So even though the state is eliminating the 450 positions and another 50 vacancies, it will issue double that many layoff notices to include workers who might be bumped.

The $2.3 billion sale hasn't closed yet, he said, but it probably will within the next few months, perhaps before the end of the four-month layoff notice period. Regardless, "no one will lose their job before the end of the 120-day notice period," Lamoureaux said.

The Bee learned of the layoff plan today, just eight days after Local 1000 and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed to a new three-year labor contract. The deal, which doesn't provide layoff protections, has been approved by the Legislature. Union members begin voting on Monday with a deadline of Nov. 8 to cast ballots.

February 18, 2010
CSU East Bay axing 60 jobs

CSU East Bay seal and logo.JPGCSU East Bay says it is planning to cut about 60 non-teaching jobs and reduce the work hours of another 80 employees in response to what university President Mo Qayoumi calls a "staggering" budget crunch.

From the university's announcement:

The net reduction in the university's base budget from 2008-09 to 2010-11 was $20.3 million, a decrease of more than a 14 percent. That total does not include a $4.2 million structural deficit the university has been trying to eliminate since (Qayoumi) arrived in July 2006.

Read the press announcement about the layoffs and work time cuts 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
Poll: Furloughs or layoffs?

December 21, 2009
SEIU launches prison education lawsuit

Thumbnail image for Gavel.jpgService Employees International Union Local 1000 and two union members are suing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Marin Superior Court to keep the state from cutting prison educators and the academic and vocational programs they operate.

We've written a bit about this issue in our weekly column and State Worker blog posts such as this one. The essence of the matter: CDCR last fall gave termination notices to about half of the prison system's 1,400 credentialed teachers to cut spending on prison education.

The governor and CDCR said the cuts and job terminations help close what was then about a $20 billion budget gap. The union blasted the plan as a dismantling of vital and legally mandated programs that deter inmates from returning to crime once they leave prison. (Click this link to read AB 900, passed by lawmakers in 2007, for more about the legally mandated part.) The union says that education is about 2 percent of CDCR's overall budget.

The job terminations officially start next month, although Local 1000 spokesman Jim Zamora told us that some teachers may stop work earlier because they have furlough time on the books that they'll take before their pay ends.

Read more about the SEIU lawsuit by clicking the following link.

December 16, 2009
State worker featured in CNN story

Cindie Fonseca, a CDCR instructure and SEIU Local 1000 activist, is featured in a CNN report on California's sagging economy.

We've featured Fonseca on this blog and in this State Worker column.

Click here to see the CNN piece (after a brief advertisement). And clicking the following link will expand this post to include the report's script, provided by Local 1000's Jim Zamora.

December 8, 2009
Local 1000 staging rally to protest prison cuts

SEIU Local 1000 is staging a rally this morning to protest cuts to the state's inmate rehabilitation programs. The event is planned in advance of two legislative hearings on the subject scheduled for today. Local 1000 members and their supporters will gather for about 45 minutes on the Capitol's south steps at 10 a.m., according a press advisory issued by Local 1000.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is planning to lay off more than half the 1,400 vocational instructors and teachers now working in the state's prison system. We mentioned the planned cuts in this November State Worker column.

The Select Committee for Women and Children in the Criminal Justice System will hear statements on the impact of prison education cuts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Then at 1:30 p.m., Assembly Budget Subcommittee Number 4 will take up the matter.

Click here to read Local 1000's advisory.

November 16, 2009
State worker says cuts will turn 'R' in CDCR into 'Recidivism'

Gunnar Jensen, CDCR teacher working at the Corcoran State Prison's Substance Abuse Treatment Facility, read our recent blog coverage of cuts planned for the prison system's teaching corps. He decided to write a letter to the governor and other elected officials. He sent a copy of the form letter to The State Worker and, with Jensen's permission, we're posting it here, unedited.

Jensen is speaking for himself, not his department or his fellow employees.

November 6, 2009
The Honorable

I am sending this letter to urge you to do what you can to stop the planned layoffs of nearly 800 prison teachers, statewide. By limiting educational opportunities for offenders, this act will cost far more money than it could ever save.

While there exist few longitudinal studies to support education's positive role in reducing recidivism1, we know that completing high school requirements through the General Education Development (GED) instruction and testing program has opened doors to employment for thousands of people in our state. If we truly wish to provide rehabilitation in our prisons, we must make available every opportunity for offenders to achieve this goal before paroling or returning to society after serving their sentences.

During my experience teaching in prison, I have encountered many inmates who are keenly aware of what earning a GED will mean for their future prospects of staying out of prison. Many have told me they do not want to return (to prison), and that earning their GED is the key to making that possible. Without a GED, re-violating is almost inevitable.

Please understand that academic Instructors working for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation are the "R" in CDCR. Without them, that "R" will likely come to represent "Recidivism".

Click the following link to read the rest of Jensen's e-mail.

November 5, 2009
Corrections releases SROA and layoff numbers

Here are the Corrections and Rehabilitation Department's SROA numbers and the actual number of positions slated for elimination, according to spokeswoman Peggy Bengs:

SROA notices delivered:
Academic teachers: 753
Vocational instructors: 241
Total: 994

Actual layoffs:
Academic teachers: 416
Vocational instructors: 176
Total: 592

Bengs gave us those figures on Wednesday afternoon. She said that the layoffs are slated for the end of January.

The numbers and layoff date differ from what we received from SEIU Local 1000 a week ago and reported in this blog post. Sources familiar with CDCR's layoff plans tell us that the numbers are in constant flux and that the department has yet to settle on one course of action.

November 4, 2009
The latest on layoffs

Still no big layoffs in state government from what we can tell, despite the tough talk last summer.

"There are no new developments with layoffs," DPA spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley told The State Worker.

Meanwhile, SEIU Local 1000's Cindie Fonseca, gave us a list of Corrections layoffs planned for Bargaing Unit 1 administrative staff (26 layoffs), Bargaining Unit 3 teachers (642 layoffs) and Bargaining Unit 4 clerical and support (49 layoffs). Fonseca said that the BU 3 layoffs equal 45 percent of the Corrections employees in that job class.

Those layoffs would start around the first of the year, Fonseca said, and she's on the list.

We've called CDCR to confirm. We'll update this post or publish another when we hear back from them.

What's the takeaway from this? Have the usual moves -- eliminating vacant positions, transfers out of targeted jobs, and the like -- been exhausted? Are state workers facing real layoffs next year, especially if the economy doesn't improve and the state's tax revenues don't bounce back? Or is this yet another drill, despite what CDCR has told Local 1000?

October 6, 2009
From the notebook: BOE executive director explains layoff pull back

Thumbnail image for BOE HQ_sacbee_Jay Mather_2005_1.jpgFrom the notebook State Worker blog posts feature news, quotes and information that may not see print in a news story but still provide context and insight for news stories that we write.

As we report in today's Bee, the Board of Equalization has pulled back on plans to lay off a quarter of its employees. The story references this e-mail from Executive Director Ramon J. Hirsig:

From: Executive Director
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 1:20 PM
To: +All BOE Employees
Subject: Budget Update - October 1, 2009

As you know, BOE submitted a layoff plan to DPA in early September that may potentially impact 1,100 BOE employees with 42 months or less of state service. Those 1,100 employees received initial letters requesting confirmation of months of service with the State. We have previously told you that once the plan is approved by DPA the next step will be Surplus or State Restriction of Appointment (SROA) letters sent to those same employees. The SROA process is intended to provide job placement assistance to employees who are facing layoff, and restricts the way hiring departments can fill vacant positions.

We have also previously explained that the layoff plan calls for layoffs as of February 1, 2010. The process requires 120 days from SROA notification to layoff. If the SROA letters do not go out to employees by October 1, a layoff cannot occur February 1, 2010, but rather 120 days following the SROA/Surplus notification.

At this point, it appears that BOE has found enough flexibility in our budget to avoid the immediate need for layoffs. Therefore, the layoff plan is temporarily on hold, and SROA/Surplus letters will not be sent at this time. As you know, the budget situation remains fluid, and there may be changes that could necessitate layoffs in the future. We will keep you informed on any developments.

The BOE must also continue with other cost saving measures, including imposition of the hard hiring freeze, limiting travel, equipment purchases and training to mandatory items only, and continued participation by our employees in the voluntary leave programs. I would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the more than 1,300 employees who are contributing through the voluntary leave programs.

Read more about the BOE budget shortfall and its earlier layoff plan in this September blog post.

IMAGE: BOE headquarters / Jay Mather, Sacramento Bee, 2005

September 17, 2009
Corrections says it will lay off up to 900 employees

This in from CDCR:

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is cutting adult offender rehabilitation programs, reducing headquarters staff and creating new efficiencies to save over $280 million in response to the department's plan to achieve a $1.2 billion budget reduction. ...

Overall, program-related reductions are anticipated to eliminate more than 1,000 positions, but because of existing vacancies, the number of actual layoffs is expected to be somewhere between 600 and 900, depending upon final negotiations. ...

Over the next few months, CDCR will be working with affected labor organizations to implement these changes. Final decisions regarding new program models will be pending those negotiations.

Click here to read the department's announcement, which includes more details about its budget cuts.

September 15, 2009
Reminder: CalPERS board voting deadline Oct. 2

If you haven't returned your CalPERS' Board of Administration ballot, you have until Oct. 2 to get it in. A few folks have called and e-mailed us that they have been holding their vote until they could watch the video from the Sept. 2 candidate's forum at Sacramento's Dante Club. They missed our earlier post and asked that we direct them to it.

We figure that there may be other blog users who want to see the video, so we decided to post it again here.

The Bee's video staff distilled the 28-minute video from two hours of raw footage shot by Kim McElroy of Shout TV, the public access television show devoted to SEIU Local 1000 issues. (Local 1000 doesn't sponsor the show or sanction its content.)

Watch the video and you'll see CalPERS Board of Administration candidates J.J. Jelincic, Inderjit Singh Kallirai and Muriel Strand taking questions from Bee editorial board member Ginger Rutland and the dean of Sacramento's political press corps, columnist Dan Walters. The video also includes closing remarks by each candidate.

Candidates Cathy Hackett, Kurato Shimada, Dan T. Villella and Dennis Yates did not participate.

The Bee and PERSWatch co-sponsored the event. The League of Women Voters moderated.

Click here for more information about the election.

September 15, 2009
Day 120: Has anyone lost work?

Today marks the 120th day after layoff warnings went out in May. In theory, the 5,000 general fund positions targeted for elimination in May are now going away and anyone caught still working in one of them will be shown the door.

About 60 days after the notices went out, 1,100 employees had either transferred or left state service, Department of Personnel Administration said in this July 22 The State Worker report.

You'll recall that right around that time, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered 2,000 more general fund jobs eliminated.

Click here for a flowchart and other information that outlines the state's layoff process. A few weeks ago, we published a breakdown of layoff targets by department issued by the administration. This blog post has a link to that layoff table, which includes projections for 10,000 and 12,000 job eliminations.

We have a call in to DPA to request the latest info on layoffs. We'll report ASAP when we hear back. What are you seeing and hearing where you work?

September 3, 2009
BOE bracing for layoffs

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for BOE HQ_sacbee_Jay Mather_2005_1.jpg
The state Board of Equalization is laying the groundwork to terminate more than a quarter of its employees with the line drawn at those with 42 months of service or less.

The board is sending out letters to about 1,100 employees asking them to confirm their service time. Meanwhile, it has sent a layoff plan to the Department of Personnel Administration. Once that's approved, State Restriction of Appointments letters will go out and the 120-day clock toward termination starts ticking. That means layoffs some time in February, assuming nothing changes between now and then.

Faced with approximately $55 million in budget cuts, the board last month asked its 4,000-plus employees to volunteer for furloughs. So far, BOE spokeswoman Anita Gore tells The State Worker, more than 1,200 people have offered to take unpaid days off.

But that will only save between $3 million and $3.5 million. Even with other cost cuts, the board is still a long way from hitting its budget target. And more cuts may be coming if state revenues don't pick up. BOE let go all of its students and retired annuitants last month. It has also frozen hiring; reduced overtime; cut travel, operating and supply expenses; reduced training expenses and cancelled or suspended non-essential contracts.

There's some uncertainty to all of this, as is usually the case when the state starts talking about whacking jobs. More people could volunteer for furloughs, which would reduce the number of terminations. The state's revenues could pick up significantly. And BOE istill doesn't know the exact size of its budget hole, since the Department of Finance hasn't given the board specific savings targets to hit.

"We're working from estimates," Gore said."But the more good news we get, the fewer the number of people we'll have to lay off."

The the political winds could change direction, too, as evidenced by today's announcement by Senate President Darrell Steinberg that he wants to reduce state worker furloughs and enact SEIU Local 1000's stalled labor contract. If that happened, thousands of SEIU-covered employees at BOE and other constitutional offices that haven't been furloughing emloyees would start taking one unpaid day off each month.

You can read more about Steinberg's plan by clicking here.

Photo credit: BOE headquarters / Sacramento Bee 2005, Jay Mather

August 31, 2009
We're back -- and here's what we're working on

Your humble reporter/blogger/columnist is back after a week off and weeding through a mountain of e-mails that has stacked up. (Our voice mail filled up on Aug. 22 and our e-mail inbox shut down Wednesday, so if you tried to reach us and couldn't last week, feel free to give it another try.)

Meanwhile, here's some of the stuff we're working on for The State Worker users:

  • We're keeping an eye out for news in advance of Tuesday's scheduled court hearing in SEIU Local 1000's furlough lawsuit.
  • An update, if there is one, in the disagreement between the Department of Personnel Administration and State Compensation Insurance Fund over an award for employees.
  • The looming Sept. 15 layoff date for folks in targeted general fund positions who received notices in May that their positions were subject to elimination.
  • More information on the upcoming CalPERS' board candidates forum that The Bee and PERSWatch are co-sponsoring the Wednesday at at the Dante Club on Fair Oaks Boulevard in Sacramento.

Personal note: Thanks to colleague Andrew McIntosh for feeding The State Worker last week while still juggling his other duties for The Bee. Job well done!

August 26, 2009
UC Berkeley to lay off 300, cut courses and library hours

State spending cuts have hit UC Berkeley today -- and it wasn't pretty.

The university announced that it is laying off roughly 300 employees and cutting about 8 percent of its courses to address a steep drop in state funding, the Associated Press reports from the Bay area.

August 26, 2009
States' layoff and furlough efforts described in new report

The National Conference of State Legislatures has released a new report on state budgets that shows that half of the states are projecting a cumulative shortfall of $142.6 billion for fiscal year 2010.

That's a gap the conference said will likely to "grow during the course of the fiscal year."

The conference has compiled charts that document measures, both proposed and enacted, that states are taking to close budget gaps, including furloughs and layoffs. The report -- a quick, informative but painful read -- also describes efforts to boost state revenues.

To see the conference's excellent chart, click here.

The conference is a bipartisan group that serves legislators and their staffs in the nation's states and territories, offering policy research and technical assistance.

August 26, 2009
Amador and San Joaquin hit hard in Corrections' new layoff plans

The State Worker reported Monday that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation had issued 1,300 new layoff notices to staff statewide following recent budget cuts. That was in addition to the 3,665 it handed out in May.

Department of Corrections press secretary Seth Unger has given us an update on the county-by-county breakdown of the new layoff notices issued, and corrections offices in Amador and San Joaquin were hit hard. Find the breakdown, by county and number of notices issued, after the jump:

August 24, 2009
Corrections to issue 1,300 new layoff notices in wake of budget cuts

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Monday it will issue 1,300 new layoff notices in Sacramento, Amador, Fresno and elsewhere after the assumed $1.2 billion cut to the department's budget.

Department chief of staff Brett H. Morgan announced details of the layoff plan in a letter to staff this afternoon.

"These truly are difficult times, and your concern and frustration are shared," Morgan told CDCR workers in a two-page letter that explained that layoff notices will go out this week.

Click this link to read it: CDCR Layoff notice 8.23.2009.pdf   The latest layoff notices are in addition to the 3,665 others that the department issued to workers on May 15, said Mary Hernandez, CDCR undersecretary for administration.

The division of juvenile justice will be the hardest hit. It will see 1,200 layoff notices issued to staffers with the least experience in Sacramento, Amadaor, Fresno, Los Angeles, San Bernardino San Joaquin and Ventura counties.

Only 100 layoff notices will be issued in the adult division, Fernandez said. The 1,300 includes twenty-five people to be put on layoff notice from CDCR headquarters here in Sacramento, she added.

The notices don't mean people will actually be laid off.

The employees affected will be put on a state restriction of appointment (SROA) list, giving them first shot at other CDCR jobs - either in their county or outside their county - as they come up during the period before they are truly laid off.

Fernandez was unable to say how many of the 3,665 who recieved such notices in May ended up without a state job at the end of the 120 day period.

The State Worker is trying to get that information for a post tomorrow. If you were among that first wave of layoff notice recipients, let us know how you fared.
August 6, 2009
CDCR Secretary on local radio; Local 1000 says Corrections still not talking

Corrections and Rehab Secretary Matthew Cate appeared for an in-studio interview on this morning's Armstrong & Getty Show to discuss all things prison: budget cuts, incarceration costs, illegals in the system and the court order to reduce the department's inmate population. Cate also took questions from callers.

Click here to see the podcast link to the interview during the 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. hour of the show.

Speaking of Corrections, SEIU Local 1000 says on its Web site that it has met with departments about pending layoffs and has had a hand in getting "hundreds of workers" off the State Restriction of Appointments list. However, the union still hasn't been able to meet with CDCR -- and that's the department facing the most position cuts among the total of 7,000 ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Local 1000 has a complaint pending with the Public Employee Relations Board about CDCR's failure to go over its layoff plans with the union, as we mentioned in this blog post.

August 5, 2009
State worker news from Pennsylvania and Hawaii
August 4, 2009
SEIU files unfair labor practice charge against CDCR

Service Employees Local 1000 on Friday filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for failing to meet and confer over layoffs that could commence Sept. 15.

Employees working jobs that departments plan to eliminate will be receiving notices soon, since the state must give an employee a 30-day notice before a layoff. But before that happens, departments must meet and confer with unions at least 60 days prior to laying off represented employees.

The meet and confer sessions aren't just a formality, Local 1000 negotiator Cindie Fonseca said in a telephone interview with us Monday. Meetings with the Department of Veterans Affairs , for example, brought the number of SEIU-covered employee layoffs from 50 down to seven.

According to the PERB complaint, of the 10 departments that are eliminating positions, "... only CDCR, with the largest number of layoffs pending, has refused to meet, has refused to schedule meetings, has refused to provide information, and has refused to mitigate layoff or address procedural defects in the layoff process."

Corrections has to cut 3,665 jobs. About 1,800 of the targeted positions are correctional officers covered by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and a bit more than 1,200 are covered by Local 1000, Fonseca said.

Click here to read the charges against Corrections that SEIU has filed with the Public Employee Relations Board.

July 22, 2009
State schedules SoCal job fair for employees facing layoff

Thumbnail image for 090223 DPA.gifThe Department of Personnel Administration plans a job fair for state workers Aug. 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Fairview Developmental Center Auditorium in Costa Mesa. The event is for employees who have received a layoff or SROA notice. Click here for more details about the job fair and how to prepare for it.

DPA set up a similar event at Cal Expo last month. It drew about 1,200 state workers who visited with representatives from 43 departments that had job openings. You can read about that June 11 fair by clicking here.


July 22, 2009
State layoffs will come Sept. 15 at the earliest

Note at 3:54 p.m.: The link to the DPA Web site has been fixed.

The 5,000 general fund job cuts announced by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration in May are still on, despite the budget deal cut Monday night by the governor and leaders of both parties in the Legislature. So are the 2,000 job cuts that the administration announced last week.

What that means is that Sept. 15 is the earliest date that state workers could lose their jobs if they're still in positions targeted for elimination . The state's layoff process requires 120 days of lead time from when a worker is notified of a possible layoff to when the ax actually falls. So workers notified on May 15 have until Sept. 15 to find a new position.

Click here for a chart that lays out how the layoff process works.

DPA tells us that of the 5,000 jobs targeted in May, about 1,100 employees have transferred out of them or left state service. And you'll recall from this blog post that Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services counted 400 vacant spots toward meeting their combined goal of about 1,000 layoffs.

Counting those budgeted-but-vacant slots were considered and exception to the rule at the time, but the administration is now allowing all departments to do the same to reach the 7,000 layoffs of the combined May and July layoff orders.

Departments had until Monday night to tell the administration which jobs they'll cut to get to that 7,000 target (the May 5,000 plus the 2,000 added last week). It will probably take a few more days to verify the list. We'll report the specifics as soon as they become available.

July 21, 2009
Hawaii governor lays groundwork for layoffs, prefers furloughs

Hawaii's budget drama and its impact on state workers took a couple of turns on Monday.

More of Jon Ortiz' Links

July 14, 2009
More about 2,000 positions that may be cut; McLear on video

We've spoken with Vickie Bradshaw, Cabinet Secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. A few points surfaced during the telphone conversation that we wanted to pass along to amplify our earlier blog post about preparations to ax 2,000 general-fund positions.

The administration called us, in part, because other media outlets saw our report and made the leap that that 2,000 state workers have been told they may be laid off. That is not the case.

Today's news is that the state government is preparing for layoffs. The administration expects that some permanent job cuts prompted by changes to government programs will be part of the next budget deal, Bradshaw said. Talking to the unions and exempt employee associations was part of "getting prepared as any other business or government agency would have to do to live within its means," she said.

The state has been squirreling away vacant positions for several months. Bradshaw said that departments were instructed to begin looking at how they "capture funded vacancies," general-fund positions that emptied out as employees left state service. Now those budgeted-but-empty slots can be counted toward the reduction targets issued by the administration. The departments will report those savings by July 20, then go after the rest, if any remain, with layoff warnings.

No one has been issued a layoff warning letter as a result of the plan laid out today. The plan is to save money first by cutting vacant positions first, then going back and determining how many layoff warnings will need to be issued.

On a related note, click the video player below to view footage of Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear talking about the layoff plan.

July 14, 2009
Another 2,000 general fund jobs could be axed, administration says

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is prepared to cut another 2,000 jobs from the general fund, state officials told state employee union and exempt employee association leaders in a conference call this morning. The cuts could be part of a deal that must close the state's $26.3 billion fiscal gap, which widens by $25 million each day lawmakers fail to enact a budget.

"The budget reforms and program savings being discussed in the budget require us to be prepared to implement in order to realize those savings," said Lynelle Jolley, spokeswoman for the Department of Personnel Administration.

DPA informed the employee groups of the possible layoff order this morning during a 9 a.m. conference call, Jolley said. Departments have until July 20 to report their how many vacant positions they'll permanantly eliminate toward reduction targets that the administration will set. Officials will then decide how many filled positions need to be cut.

This would be the third round of layoff warning notices issued by the administration, each time with the intent of eliminating jobs in the state's strapped general fund. In February, Schwarzenegger ordered 28,000 sent out to the least senior 10 percent of the state's employees. He ordered another 5,000 notices sent out in May.

It's not clear that any government workers have lost their jobs, however, because the state allows employees given a layoff warning to seek jobs elsewhere in the bureaucracy. About 6,500 of the 28,000 state workers who were given a warning in February moved into non-general fund jobs, according to the administration. It doesn't have similar figures for impact of the May layoff warnings, nor projections for the 2,000 warnings that might be issued.

Approximately 100,000 state workers are employed in general fund departments, the vast majority of them in the state's prison and parole department and in public health. Employee compensation makes up about 10 percent of the $85.8 billion general fund, an amount equal to roughly one-third of the current budget deficit.

July 1, 2009
Whitman says 'at least' 17,000 mid-level state workers need to go
Meg Whitman, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, is on a swing through the Bakersfield area, fundraising and giving interviews to at least some newspapers.

On Wednesday, the former chief executive officer of eBay Inc. chatted with reporters and editors from The Bakersfield Californian.

You will recall that Whitman has told separate crowds in Orange County and Roseville that she would cut 30,000 state jobs, but offered little detail.

Now, she's elaborated on her plan - even as thousands of Service Employee International Union workers descend on the Capitol today for a lunchtime rally to protest budget and service cuts the state must make to cut its deficit.

Whitman's target? Middle-management, judging by her remarks.

"I would streamline the number of bureaucrats who work in the government. There's at least 17,000 mid-level bureaucrats that, I think, need to go because we have a government we cannot afford," Whitman told The Californian.
To see Whitman's more detailed Q & A with the newspaper, conducted at the Grimmway Farms carrot processing facility in Arvin, southeast of Bakersfield, click right here.

So folks, what do you think? Our bet is that state service would be badly damaged by reductions of that magnitude.  But we'd like to hear your views. 

What would you tell Whitman about her plan?
June 11, 2009
Job fair today at Cal Expo

The Department of Personnel Administration is hosting a job fair today at Cal Expo for state workers who have received a layoff or an SROA notice. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. DPA expects about 60 departments will attend.

If you're facing layoff and the the whole thing is overwhelming, give serious thought to attending a 90-minute seminar at the Cal Expo Grandstand that starts at 9:30 a.m. It's intended to explain the SROA process and to give you tips on successfully competing for your next job. Click here for the PDF flier that gives more details.

Click here to see our earlier post on the event. And DPA has several links for more information that you can view by clicking this link.

May 22, 2009
SEIU layoff breakdown
Jim Zamora at SEIU Local 1000 sent over a breakdown of union-represented worker layoff notices by county. Some 1,469 workers covered by SEIU contract got letters. As you would expect, Sacramento County is the hardest hit. Click here to see the list.
May 22, 2009
DPA releases detailed layoff counts

After pestering them all week, DPA just sent over the specifics on the 5,000 layoff notices ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week. Click here to see the chart. We're working on a story for tomorrow.

Worth noting: The administration allowed Health and Human Services to count 368 vacated positions toward the 871 jobs it's eliminating. Veterans Affairs got to count 32 vacancies toward its target of 111 layoffs.

The administration says that between 6,000 and 6,500 people moved out of general fund positions after layoff warning notices went out last February. That means the general fund will have shed 11,000 jobs once this round of layoffs is over.

"And there will be more layoffs coming," DPA spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley told us, as the state confronts eliminating, downsizing and combining programs and departments.

May 20, 2009
Layoff news trickling in from DPA, other departments

So here's the latest on layoffs:

DPA is updating its State Restriction of Appointments lists as it continues to process data that it has received from departments affected by the layoffs. You can see the layoffs by department by clicking here. Or you can click on this link for the layoffs by job class list.

The lists include the layoff notice effective date, so look for items dated May 18 or later. Those jobs fall under the last week's layoff order.

Both lists and other information about the layoff process can be found on DPA's State Restriction of Appointments page, which you can view by clicking here.

If you're one of the unfortunate 5,000, be sure you carefully comb through the information there to make sure you understand your layoff rights and your responsibilities if you want to stay in state government.

We also recommend you check out the State Personnel Board's "Transfer and Reinstatement Opportunities" page for details about how to transfer into another job, positions for which you might be qualified and vacant positions in state service. Click here to view that Web page.

Meanwhile, we're pestering state officials for layoff details: How many layoff notices went out, exactly? How many to each department? What job classes took the biggest hits? How much money does the administration estimate the general fund will save through the layoffs?

And we have a question for state workers who have seen this sort of thing before: Are you surprised that it's taken four business days and counting since the layoff notices went out for the state to come up with the details? (We're still relatively new to all this, having covered state workers since last July.)

Anyway, when we have the answers, you'll have the answers.

May 20, 2009
Still no layoff details from the Schwarzenegger administration

The Department of Personnel Administration hasn't yet released the breakdown of the 5,000 layoffs, and it may not have the numbers today, spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said this morning.

DPA has to take the disparate reports from the departments affected, unify the data and then break it down by department, job class, geography and bargaining unit, then deliver the info to the unions.

We'll post the data as soon as we get it, but it may be a while.

May 20, 2009
Another way to layoff, furlough state workers?

Among the hundreds of e-mails we've received in the last few days comes this one from a Corrections and Rehabilitation employee. With his permission on condition of withholding his last name, we offer his unedited e-mail here for your consideration and comment:

From: Michael

Sent: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
To: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Subject: State Lay-Offs

I agree that the state needs to do some cut backs and lay offs may be imminent, but the way they are currently doing the lay-offs is unfair. Just because someone has seniority doesn't mean that they have a better work ethic or more productivity of their work. Having just under 2 years with the state myself, I am constantly worried about my job. Its not fair, to know that I am working twice as hard as another "civil servant" who has been working for years. That person is merely here because it is to hard to fire them.

The state needs to work out something with the union to fire the "stereotypical" state worker. They are out there, but you're not going to find them merely through laying off the least senior workers.

Why not give managers more of a right to do their job and cut the fat. If a worker is doing a sub par job, let the manager give them write-ups and if you get a certain amount of write-ups in a certain date range, then well you're fired. I mean if you do that a couple of things will happen. One, its easier to fire crappy workers and that will save the state money and two, people will be scared of losing their jobs so their productivity will go up.

It's in no way a short term solution, but it will weed out those "lazy, stereotypical state workers."

Also, in regards to furloughs, why do a blanket furlough for everyone in the state? Here is an idea, for workers making 50,000+, furlough 1 day, workers making 100,000+ furlough them 2 days, and for those making 200,000+ furlough them 3 days.

When people make more money and a small portion is taken out, they can still put money into the economy, however when you take roughly 10% out of those who don't make a lot, it just takes money away from being spent in the economy and puts those in hard times.

What's going on now doesn't make sense, and there are obviously more rational solutions that what are being done and those which are proposed. I am just curious, what do you think? Do you think I am way of base?

Thanks for your time.

May 19, 2009
CCPOA president talks about state layoffs

We spoke this afternoon with Chuck Alexander, acting president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, about the layoffs announced last week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So far, CCPOA has been mostly silent about budget matters affecting their members, including the 5,000 layoff notices sent out to state workers. Preliminary reports indicate that up to 3,600 of the letters have gone to Corrections and Rehabilitation Department employees, and most of those went to correctional officers with 15 months or fewer on the job, Alexander said.

(Note: The Department of Personnel Administration has pushed back its release of specific information about the layoff from this afternoon to Wednesday. The reason, we're told, is that the state needs more time to collate the lists of notified employees before presenting them to the unions.)

Read our Q&A with Alexander after the jump.

May 19, 2009
Governor's office: Whitman 10 percent layoff plan 'merely rhetoric'

We've been tracking Republican Meg Whitman's 2010 gubernatorial campaign as the candidate continues to talk about cutting the state workforce by 30,000 to 40,000 employees to help bring down the cost of California government.

She's also criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for sending layoff notices to just 5,000 state workers.

The administration has responded with some figures and a comment. The numbers:

  • 100,000: The number of state workers paid directly from the general fund who are directly under the governor's control.
  • $8.8 billion: Annual payroll for those 100,000 employees
  • $5.2 billion: Annual payroll for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
  • $1.8 billion: Annual payroll for Health and Human Services
  • 3600: CDCR employees given layoff notices (rough estimate)
  • 1000: HHS employees given layoff notices

The administration's point? That when you're talking about the general fund, you're talking mostly about CDCR and HHS, and those are the departments targeted for layoffs.

While Whitman talks about cutting 10 percent everywhere (although the ax wouldn't fall as heavily on law enforcement and education), cutting positions outside the general fund won't shore it up. Whether, say, the UC system should be smaller is a separate question from what needs to be done to fix the general fund.

As to Whitman's comments that the governor should have sent out more layoff notices, Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said, "The governor is always looking to cut the size of state government, but doing so requires a plan, not merely campaign rhetoric."

May 15, 2009
More layoff details: CDCR issues 3,600 layoff notices

We were part of a media conference call today with Julie Chapman, DPA's Deputy Director of Labor Relations, to talk about layoffs. Here are some details from the discussion that we thought worth passing along:

  • Notices went out to about 5,000 state workers today, some hand-delivered at work. Others went to employee homes via certified mail.

  • The early report from Corrections is that it issued about 3,600 letters. Administration spokesman Aaron McLear later told us that Health and Human Services workers received another 1,000 notices. The governor's office won't be ready to release specifics until Tuesday, so we don't yet know exactly the layoffs by department or which counties and cities will see the most job losses.

  • Why the lack of specificity? Departments have until the close of business on Monday to submit the names of workers jobs targeted for termination. "It's hard to drill down until departments submit their lists," Chapman said.
  • Chapman repeated what Vickie Bradshaw, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's deputy chief of staff, told us on Thursday about the administration helping employees find new state jobs that aren't paid with general fund money. When asked how many of jobs exist for transitioning workers, Chapman said, "We don't know how many openings are available."

  • A reporter asked Chapman whether the SEIU Local 1000 deal negotiated in February -- and now hung up in the Assembly -- had anything to do with the governor's layoff policy. "The SEIU agreement has no effect on this decision," Chapman said.

May 15, 2009
Administration releases sample layoff letter

The governor's office has just sent us a sample "Employee Notice of Layoff" letter. Not all will look exactly like this one, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's spokesman Aaron McLear told us.

Click here to view the letter.

May 14, 2009
Corrections will take biggest layoff hit; no word on more furloughs

We're back from covering the budget press conference and have put up this story. A couple of quick points:

  • Furloughs didn't come up. Nothing to report on whether the governor might try to add an unpaid day off to the two he's already ordered.
  • No specific numbers. The administration didn't break down the 5,000 layoffs by department, but Finance Director Mike Genest did say Corrections would take the biggest hit, followed by Health and Human Services. We expect more specifics tomorrow after affected state workers get the news.
  • The administration is obligated to notify unions of their intentions at least 60 days before layoffs take effect. Vickie Bradshaw, secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development, said the unions are being officially informed today. (see video below)

We're looking for state workers and non-state workers willing to talk to us for stories we'll be writing for the next week or so about the budget, the state workforce and the like. If you'd like to express your opinion for these stories, please e-mail or call 916-321-1043.

May 14, 2009
State to lay off 5,000 workers

Kevin Yamamura reports that an administration source says that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to lay off 5,000 state workers by the end of June.

This raises plenty of questions about how the state can lay off employees more quickly than policy allows. For example, the state must meet and confer with state employee unions at least 60 days before terminating employees in a layoff. If the state adheres to that policy, the earliest that workers could be cut would be mid July.

We're heading over to the 2 p.m. budget revise press conference shortly -- with plenty of questions.

Click here for the Department of Personnel Administration's "Overview of the Layoff Process."

May 12, 2009
Schwarzenegger looking at state workforce cuts
With the state facing a growing budget deficit -- even if the measures on Tuesday's ballot make a remarkable comeback and win -- the Schwarzenegger administration once again is looking at state workers for cuts.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said as much this morning at a budget roundtable in San Jose.

"We are also very seriously looking at cutting our workforce," he said.

The administration on Monday said the budget deficit for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is likely to be $15.4 billion if the measures pass, $21.3 billion if they don't.
May 8, 2009
State worker news from elsewhere: Furloughs, job cuts and anger
Think things are grim for state workers here in California?

There's fear and anxiety across the country, my state worker friends.

Consider this week's events in Michigan, Wisconsin, Florida and Nevada.

In Michigan, about 300 state employees face layoffs - including 100 State Police troopers - and most state workers will take six unpaid days off before October under a $300 million budget-cutting plan approved by lawmakers, The Detroit Free Press reports.

In Florida, that state's budget is calling for another year of wage freezes. For some state workers, it will actually mean 2 percent pay cuts.

Tensions are growing as workers watched food and utility bills and the price of their commutes all go up, The Orlando Sentinel reports.

In Wisconsin, it's even a little worse.

Up to 1,100 state workers could be laid off and most state workers would be forced to take 16 days of unpaid leave under a budget-balancing plan outlined Thursday by Gov. Jim Doyle, The Associated Press reports in The Chippewa Herald.

Local TV is already soaking up the anger. Click here to watch a local TV report.

In Nevada, state workers will get one furlough day a month. That's equal to a 4 percent pay cut, The Las Vegas Sun reports.  Read that story by clicking here.
April 25, 2009
Corrections cutbacks: What will it mean for jobs?

In case you missed it, we wanted to call your attention to Bee colleague Andy Furillo's story, "California prison officials propose releasing 8,000 inmates to cut costs."

From the report:

Schwarzenegger on Feb. 20 ordered an open-ended $400 million reduction in the corrections department's $10 billion budget, to help resolve a state budget deficit disaster that had totaled $40 billion.

Cate did not provide a line item on how his cost-cutting initiatives will add up to $400 million. He said he will send a package of bills over to the Legislature next week.

The package's approval is needed for the changes on parole, the time credits and the dollar-value adjustments on property crimes such as grand theft, which have not been changed since 1982.

The proposed parole changes would eliminate supervision for tens of thousands of lower-risk offenders and employ sanctions such as GPS monitoring in place of a return ticket to prison for offenders who violate the technical terms of their releases. They would cut the prison population by 4,000 by the end of the next fiscal year, Cate said.

Here's the question for state workers that hasn't been answered yet because the administration didn't present a specific list of cuts: What will this mean for CDCR jobs?

March 10, 2009
Part timer layoff check: What are you seeing?

We were just thinking that it's been a while since we looked at the aftermath of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's layoff of part time workers and retired annuitants last summer. Some questions:

Have some folks been hired back?
What has the long-term impact of the layoffs been to operations?
Any talk of restoring lost positions now that we have a budget?

We want to hear from you, maybe for a story in the fiber and cyber Bee. Call us at 916-321-1043 or e-mail Of course, you're always welcome to comment here.

March 3, 2009
Unemployment benefits raised by $25 per week

This won't come close to making things OK, but if you lose your job once Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger starts laying off state workers later this year, unemployment benefits have been increased by $25 per week, according to this report by Bee colleague Andrew McIntosh.

February 27, 2009
See the layoff warning notice numbers

The State Worker has obtained a breakdown from DPA showing how many employees were designated "surplus" for the purpose of sending out layoff warning notices last week.

A few things worth noting:

The figures for departments with more than 100 surplus employees total more than the original estimate of 20,000 because employees with identical hire dates were all included on the lists.

DPA didn't give us the numbers for departments with 100 or fewer surplus employees. It's the administration's policy to withhold that information for privacy reasons, spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley told us.

And remember, the list follows instructions in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dec. 19 executive order to tag as surplus the least senior 20 percent of the workforce in General Fund departments. The percentage doesn't vary among departments, but, obviously, the number of employees in each department does vary.

Here's the unedited list from DPA:

Depts. with over 100 "surplus" employees:

Depts. with 1 to 100 "surplus" employees:

February 23, 2009
The latest on layoffs; 13,000 at CDCR get warnings

090223 DPA.gif

California's budget deal last week doesn't mean state workers can spike the ball. In some ways, the game is just starting. Most unions are still bargaining for contracts. The full impact of furloughs has yet to show up on paychecks. Several furlough lawsuits are still in play.

And of, of course, there are plenty of questions about what's going on with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's layoff order.

On Friday, we passed along several of your questions to DPA. Here's the e-mailed response we received this morning from spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley:

Is there a date when all the surplus letters will go out at once? Or a delivery deadline that has to be met by the departments?

There's no attempt to pick a single date and time for all recipients to get them, although DPA instructed departments to get them out last week (Tuesday or Wednesday). The departments that get money from the General Fund were instructed to send them, no exceptions.

Are the letters being mailed to employees or handed to them at work?

Each department decides the best method of delivery, either in person or by mail.

Does the state have a breakdown by department or agency of how many notices are going out?

I don't have a breakout (at least not yet) of who sent them out but the top one was CDCR (around 13,000). The count is based on the lowest 20 percent of each of these GF depts in terms of seniority.

In a separate telephone conversation a few minutes ago, Jolley said now that the state has a budget, departments can manage to a specific savings goal. "That means there will probably be a lot fewer (lay offs) than what it might have been" without a budget in place, she said. Departments are making "refinements" to their layoff plans as they crunch their numbers.


February 20, 2009
Analysis: So what's up with the 20,000 layoff warnings?

We've received some e-mails and phone calls all asking the same question: So now that the budget is passed, is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger still going send lay off warnings to 20,000 state workers?

Well, the threat is still out there.

Here's what he said to reporters on Thursday after legislators passed the budget:

QUESTION: What does this budget vote mean for state workers as far as furloughs and the planned layoffs, can you tell us?

GOVERNOR: Well, you know, I cannot tell you, because we have to look at it. Whatever gets us the savings. I think that with the furloughs and with the sick leave and the holidays and all of those things, I think we get tremendous savings. We just have to look if we need any further savings.

We called Schwarzenegger's office this afternoon to see if there's been any budge on layoffs. Is the plan still on?

No change, we were told.

Why not? Here's our thinking:

Although Schwarzenegger has a tentative deal with SEIU Local 1000 that would cover nearly half of the state work force, he's still not come to terms with the other half.

It's clear that layoffs and furloughs are the two big sticks he's brandishing at the bargaining table to prod the other 10 unions and 11 bargaining units without new labor pacts into making concessions.

(The California Association of Highway Patrolmen aren't part of this discussion. The CHP officers' union has a four-year deal that doesn't expire until July 2, 2010.)

Look at Schwarzenegger's position:

He won the first round of the furlough court fight.

He has a tentative deal with the Local 1000, California's biggest public employee union, that (on paper at least) costs the state less than the expired contract.

He has a budget deal that includes significant changes to state worker holidays and overtime.

He just whacked by 10 percent the personal services budgets of the constitutional officers, achieving the same savings he figures his two-day-per-month furlough order would have yielded if those officials complied. (Lt. Gov. John Garamendi's office took a much bigger hit.)

So why back off on anything now? From the administration's perspective, the governor is on a roll. Of course, from the perspective of many state workers, he's rolling over them.

February 20, 2009
State is hiring ... to help with layoffs

DPA.gifThere's an opening at DPA:

... DUTIES: Under the general supervision of the Chief Counsel and the direct supervision of an Assistant Chief Counsel, the incumbent is responsible for representing the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) and client agencies in defending legal actions challenging the lawfulness of layoffs, and other related litigation; participating in labor arbitration hearings pursuant to the existing Memoranda of Understanding ...

Of course if you're faced with being laid off, you have a leg up on transferring:

... WHO MAY APPLY: Surplus/SROA eligibles at the Legal Counsel, Staff Counsel, Labor Relations Counsel I, II, III, IV levels, and/or those who have eligibility for appointment or transfer to this level are strongly encouraged to apply. Applications will be screened and only the most qualified will be considered for an interview.

You can see the job post here on the State Personnel Board's Web site.


February 18, 2009
One man's take on Schwarzenegger, ways to save money

We take plenty of calls and e-mail from state workers who criticize Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for furloughing employees and planning layoffs as ingredients for easing California's financial crunch. This letter to Schwarzenegger and the author's prologue to it sums up the tone of what we're hearing every day:

From: Robert H Nunn
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 3:20 PM
To: Ortiz, Jon - Sacramento
Subject: Letter to Gov.

I sent this email (below) to the Governor this morning about saving money in the state budget; I fear that he is not really serious about saving money, but is only politically motivated to "beat up" on state employees. Arnie's chief game plan is to lay state employees off and further worsen the California economy and he won't be happy until he achieves this goal.

This is the way things were also, back when Jerry Brown was governor in 1976 during the Caltrans layoffs. Jerry wasn't happy until he and Adriana Gianturkey laid off several thousand Caltrans engineers which they accomplished (I was one of them); then, a year or two later after they had literally gutted Caltrans and made it ineffective, they then tried to hire back all the Caltrans engineers that they had laid off.

I fear that politics hasn't changed much over the years. Gov. Arnie has it out for all state employees now!!

My email to the Governor was as follows:

Dear Governor:

If the Governor would like to save some money in the state budget, here are a few possible suggestions:

1. Retrieve approx. 10-15% if all the state agency's operating expense budgets; this should amount to several million dollars in savings and this money could be placed right back in the general fund immediately to make up for deficits.

2. Reduce all unnecessary travel and training for all state agencies immediately and make it supervisor approved only; these items could be reduced easily by all state agencies; this should also result in many thousands of dollars of savings (i.e., we are sending people to Traffic Ops academy in Fresno and paying for training and travel costs; this kind of training should be postponed until the budget normalizes and we have adequate funding for training such as this. I, for one, would rather have a full paycheck than Caltrans be paying for training); many Project Development Team meetings could be held via video conference (i.e., why have region folks travel all the way from Fresno to SLO for meetings and pay for travel when meetings could all be held via videoconference.)

3. Offer an early retirement proposal such as 2 years service or 2 years age for all state agencies; this would entice some folks to retire a lot earlier than they normally would; the KEY to the savings would be, of course, NOT to backfill the vacated positions.

4. Implement a hiring freeze for all vacant positions in state government; vacant positions could only be backfilled on exemption basis only.

Thank your for your consideration on this matter.

Robert H. Nunn, P.E.
PECG Member

February 17, 2009
Read the layoff letter here

The State Worker has received a copy of the "surplus notice" that individual departments are sending out to their least senior employees. Each department will put the notice on its own the letterhead.

The letter will be issued to 20,000 state workers, according to officials in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration, with a target of 10,000 layoffs by July 1. The Legislative Analyst, however, questions whether that goal is realistic.

Click here to read the letter.

You can see a how the layoff process works on this page of the Department of Personnel Administration's Web site.

February 17, 2009
Seeking more info on layoff warnings, furloughs and union actions

We're working on getting a few things for you this morning:

  • A copy of the layoff warning letter going out to 20,000 state workers today.
  • Specifics on how furloughs will work this week, given that employees under the SEIU's tentative contract, reached on Saturday, are not subject to twice-monthly furlough. The SEIU deal calls for just one unpaid leave day per month.
  • More details on the new SEIU contract

We're also planning to reach out to unions still bargaining for a new contract. Is the SEIU deal a template for them? And what about various court actions fighting the furlough order?

We want to hear from you. What questions do you have? Have you or a coworker received a layoff warning letter? Let us know what you're seeing.

February 16, 2009
Layoff warning notices to go out Tuesday morning

Well, it's going to happen. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is going to send out 20,000 layoff notices tomorrow morning. You can read the details in this breaking story by Kevin Yamamura.

The good news, if you're represented by SEIU: You're not subject to the layoffs, under the terms of the Local 1000 tentative agreement reached on Saturday.

For everyone else, the notices trigger a layoff process that takes 120 days. These aren't "pink slips." They're warnings that positions may be terminated. The governor's aim is to eliminate 10,000 of the 20,000 jobs under the layoff warning.

February 13, 2009
Layoff warnings averted -- for now

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won't send out layoff notices today, despite the Legislature's failure to meet his Friday deadline for a budget deal that includes $1.4 billion in employee cost savings through June 2010.

Schwarzenegger had said he would send out layoff warnings to 20,000 state workers aiming to lay off 10,000 for an estimated $750 million savings in fiscal 2009-10. The warning letters would trigger a 120-day-process leading up to the terminations. Employees in positions that are about to be terminated can bump those with less service time from jobs that aren't going to be cut. Those bumped workers can then displace others below them.

This is what Schwarzenegger press secretary Aaron McLear moments ago said to Bee Cap Bureau reporter Kevin Yamamura:

"There will be no layoff notices today. The governor believes we are close to an agreement that includes the spending reductions, revenue increases, economic stimulus and government efficiency that the state needs. We are still in negotiation within the big 5 and with unions with regard to state employee compensation. But we are close to an agreement on the budget. The governor believes we will have a vote in the next couple days."

Check out this morning's story by Jim Sanders for details about the pressure on the Legislature to get a budget deal done -- and pressure on individual legislators to keep this deal from getting done. And you can read this report on how union contract talks are moving in tandem with budget discussions.

February 12, 2009
Governor could move layoff warning deadline

090211 amclear.jpgCap Bureau colleague Jim Sanders just returned from a holiday press event with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and brings news that the administration may hold back on sending layoff warnings to 20,000 employees Friday if the governor is satisfied today that a budget deal is close.

The latest word, according to this report from Kevin Yamamura, is that the budget vote has been pushed from Friday to Saturday in the Assembly. Schwarzenegger said he would send out the layoff warning letters if lawmakers failed to reach a budget agreement by Friday.

"If at some point today we're pretty much there (with a budget agreement), that we can realize the savings elsewhere, then we may not have to do layoffs," Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said shortly after the governor issued a Lincoln's Birthday proclamation and took a few questions from reporters.

Meanwhile, we're working feverishly on a story about what the new budget could mean for state employee union talks and taking your calls and e-mails responding to today's State Worker column.

The news is moving quickly on several fronts. Stay tuned to, Capitol Alert and The State Worker blog for the latest.

IMAGE: Aaron McLear / Sacramento Bee file photo, March 2008, Brian Baer

February 10, 2009
Layoff letters to go out: What are people saying where you work?

While we were out of the office, Cap Bureau colleague Kevin Yamamura filed this story about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's threat to issue layoff warnings to 20,000 workers if a budget deal isn't done this week.

So what are people saying where you work? Are they blaming the governor? The Legislature? Both? Do you fear for your job or those of coworkers? Or is this a stunt that will never actually happen? (Many people thought that furloughs wouldn't happen, either.)

Please shoot us an e-mail with your workplace reports to

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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