State Employees: Calling Out The Cheaters

As a reporter for Cal Watchdog rooting out waste, abuse and fraud, I receive calls frequently from government employees wanting to tell me about the employee cheating they witness first hand in their particular government agencies by city, county, state and federal employees.

More recently, I’ve received many calls from state employees who insist on remaining anonymous for fear they will be discovered ratting out their coworkers and managers, and then be “punished.” They usually ask that I not even reveal their gender.

What kind of working environment is that? Who fears their coworkers? It’s not private sector employees who enjoy the most pro-employee labor laws in the country… No, it’s unionized government employees who fear union leadership and abusive coworkers.

I’ve met some really dedicated and hard working government employees. But the employees who are not honest and hard workers are causing a great deal of strife, ill will and anger within their own agencies. Until the furloughs started, state employees seemed to accept that cheating was just the way things were done. That seems to be changing.

Last week I spoke to a state employee who didn’t even want me to reveal the agency he/she works for. However, the caller did name several agencies in which the following cheating and fraud occurs: Caltrans, EDD, CalSTRS, CalPERS, and the DMV. The caller insisted that this was just a partial list, and also insisted that the information provided is witnessed first-hand.

One of the cons the caller wanted to expose is Leave credit abuse. The caller was very specific to tell me that leave credit abuse is mostly done by managers since they are responsible for  approval of employees’ time records. A list of leave benefits for the state is available here: Leave Benefits

The state of California will buy out unused leave credits in some cases, and when a state employee retires. Because of this, state employees feel encouraged to accumulated as much leave as possible. The state pays for up to 40 hours per year for “Mentoring Leave,” allowing state employees to mentor at-risk youth. The state also pays for time off for union business, and 3 full days of bereavement leave. There is pregnancy leave, family leave, personal leave, and 8-hours per month of sick leave. The vacation policy reads “Rank-and-file employees accrue 7 to 15 hours per month (84-150 hours per year), depending on length of service and bargaining unit. Managers and supervisors accrue 7 to 16 hours per month (84-192 hours per year), depending on length of service.”

Add together the 96 hours of sick leave per year, up to 192-hours of vacation, personal days, bereavement leave, mentoring leave and annual leave tops 350 hours. That does not include family or pregnancy leave, or the 88 hours of paid holidays every state employee also receives, making the grand total near 440 hours of paid time off, or 55 paid days off each year.

Additionally, according to the caller, another swindle is by managers who come to work late, then take off for a few hours, work only for 4-6 hours total, and often leave early, while getting paid for an 8-hour day.

The more we talked, I realized that state employee paid time off is calculated on working full time, (8 hour days), so they are also stealing unearned vacation and sick time. The state employee didn’t realize the additional theft.

This has been confirmed by many state employees however, I’ve not met one employees yet who will offer their name as a potential witness.

Callers have told me about state employee managers getting their college degrees while on state time, paid for by the state, while they get paid for their job. They come to work, leave for a few hours and go to classes at a nearby university, and return later in the day, getting paid for the entire day.

Another government worker flim-flam involves nepotism. According to rank-and-file city, county and state employees, open job positions are frequently filled by department managers’ family members and friends. Employees complain that there isn’t even an interview process for the job openings, depriving existing workers of the opportunity for advancement. Additionally, the family members are being brought in at pay levels higher than they should be, and at higher levels than existing government employees.

I want to hear from state government employees who have experienced and witnessed these abuses, and any others. Until city, county and state employees are willing to expose dishonest coworkers and managers, the abuses will continue. With as many calls and emails as I receive about state worker abuses, if these people got together and hired legal counsel, maybe they could force change.

Email me at [email protected]

Katy Grimes

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