State's Unions Win Another Court Battle

The state worker furlough situation is getting curiouser and curiouser.

Yesterday Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled that furloughed workers are entitled to back pay due to the furloughs, and ordered the state to “cease and desist the furlough of such employees.”

Roesch is the same judge who ruled in November in favor of California Correctional Peace Officers Association in its furlough lawsuit against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Sacramento Bee has a story on yesterday’s ruling and of the 434 (at press time) comments in the online version, the anger is palpable. The ruling clearly makes state employees celebrate, and private sector employees fume judging by some of the heated and volatile comments.

The debate always seems to be between whether or not particular state agencies are funded via the general fund, or through “special funding” from the federal government.

However, the one argument that everyone seems to miss is where the money comes from. Regardless of how a state agency is funded (general fund or “special” federal funding), is not all of the money provided to every level of government procured via taxes on the citizens?

The Bee reported this from Roesh’s decision: “When the only justification underpinning the furlough of these employees that remains is ‘labor parity,’ the court cannot do otherwise than to conclude that respondents (in the administration) have abused their discretion,” Roesch wrote. On Thursday, Roesch not only settled the question of back pay, he said the judgment applied to all workers in non-general fund departments, not just those represented by the unions that sued.”

The Governor’s office will appeal the ruling. The appeal will stay the order during the ongoing litigation unless unions can persuade the court to lift the stay.

Is there really any question who is driving this bus?

The SEIU had this to say on their website:

“We said all along that the governor’s actions were illegal,” said SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker. “The governor violated the law and, as a result, people lost money…to remedy that violation, you have to give people back the money they lost.” SEIU Local 1000 first filed suit after the governor began the furloughs in February, in response to the state’s $42 billion budget gap.

Judge Roesch’s ruling could affect up to 50,000 employees represented by SEIU who work at agencies that do not rely on the state’s general fund, as well as tens of thousands of workers represented by two other unions, CASE and UAPD.

Aaron McLear, the governor’s spokesman, criticized the ruling but said it wasn’t unexpected. He said 24 cases concerning furloughs have been filed in courts.

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  1. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 27 February, 2010, 10:07

    “Aaron McLear, the governor’s spokesman, criticized the ruling but said it wasn’t unexpected.”

    Of course this comes as no surprise. The governor has been shot down in court time after time. For example, his unconsionable cuts in homecare for the elderly, blind and disabled clearly violate the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Olmstead court decision–which requires the state to emphasize home and community based care over nursing home care–and various other laws.

    Even a budget crisis does not give the governor or the legislature the right to violate the law. It’s as simple as that.

    Reply this comment
  2. John Seiler
    John Seiler 27 February, 2010, 10:29

    This is just going to make the cuts bigger when they come later. There’s no money.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  3. EastBayLarry
    EastBayLarry 27 February, 2010, 10:38

    The answer is to reduce the number of state employees until the state can afford to pay their wages. If the state were run as a ‘for profit’ business, this would have been done long ago.
    Does this mean some agencies/departments/etc need to be eliminated? Most definately. It’s time to think about what we can sustain. If we can’t afford it, it needs to go.

    Reply this comment
  4. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 1 March, 2010, 12:18

    Cut healthcare, job training, education, etc., ot reduce corporate tax breaks and tax oil production? We do have choices. There is money, but the Rabid Right refuses to go after it.

    Reply this comment

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