Bill would allow AWOL state employees to keep jobs

Bill would allow AWOL state employees to keep jobs

SACRAMENTO — Imagine you miss work for five consecutive days and don’t call your supervisor to explain why. You probably wouldn’t have a job for very long.

But employment conditions in state government are very different, and about to get more so.89569_600

Thirty-eight members of the State Assembly voted Friday to support a bill to allow state employees to miss five consecutive days of work, and still be able to keep their jobs.

Sponsored by the Service Employees International Union, Assembly Bill 855 is by Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino. It would require the California Department of Human Resources to reinstate the AWOL worker if “automatic resignation” kicks in if the employee is absent from work without permission for five consecutive work days.

Being AWOL means “absent without official leave.” In the military, AWOL is also known as “desertion.” Current law allows the state to terminate an employee for being AWOL for five consecutive days, under the assumption of an “automatic resignation” clause.

The “debate”

“The SEIU is trying to circumvent the collective bargaining process,” said Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, during Friday Assembly session, which I attended. “They should bring it to the bargaining table — it’s between the union and the state.”

Jones said this bill demonstrates to the rest of the country just how out-of-touch the California Legislature is. “How can anyone think this is good?”

“AWOL isn’t accepted in the private sector, or anywhere,” Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, said in floor debate. “Why would anyone in this union want to be gone for five days without letting anyone know?  This would never be allowed in the private sector.”

Even Assembly Speaker John Perez questioned the purpose of the bill. “What are you trying to correct,” Perez, D-Los Angeles, asked Assemblywoman Brown. Even after Brown explained that administrative law decisions to terminate AWOL state employees have never been overturned, Perez wasn’t convinced. “I still don’t get the defense of what the deficiency is,” he said. Perez asked Brown to specifically address this in her closing argument.

The government class

“Would you extend provisions of this bill to the California State Assembly so we may be AWOL for four days without getting fired, or having the California Highway Patrol coming after us?” quipped Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia.

“I think we are not under the same rules,” Brown replied. A silence descended over the Assembly momentarily.

“Taxpayers are frustrated when we don’t play by the same rules,” Donnelly said. “If anyone here were to skip session, the Speaker has absolute authority to send the CHP to get us. State employees should be under the same rules.”

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, asked Brown if a state employee would be only allowed five consecutive AWOL days during the year, or could take five days off without permission from a supervisor one month, and then do it again, month after month. Grove said the way the bill was written, it would allow bad employees to abuse the intent, without recourse by the state.

Brown said the state CalHR department still would retain the authority to terminate state employees.

“To quote, ‘we are not under the same rules.’ I applaud the author’s honesty,”  Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, said. “Occasionally on the floor, the truth slips out.”

Wagner added, “If that is okay with you, vote yes. If it’s not okay with you, vote no.”

Brown’s bill would require the state to reinstate the employee if “the employee makes a satisfactory explanation as to the cause of his or her absence, and his or her failure to obtain leave.”

The second condition for reinstatement is “if the department finds that the employee is ready, able, and willing to resume the discharge of the duties of his or her position or, if not, that he or she has obtained the consent of his or her appointing power to a leave of absence to commence upon reinstatement.”

The bill is currently stalled in the Assembly on a 38-27 vote, with many Assembly members not voting at all. But it will only take three more votes to pass. With the SEIU pressing Democrats to vote for the bill, expect AB855 to pass.


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  1. Rex the Wonderdog!
    Rex the Wonderdog! 6 September, 2013, 16:47

    LOL…..and people wonder why gov is so screwed up!

    Reply this comment
  2. BillyBS
    BillyBS 6 September, 2013, 19:12

    Well I hope they get paid for the five days, fair is fair. Coming to work is overrated.

    Reply this comment
  3. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 6 September, 2013, 19:41

    I could only assume that this bill is being sponsored so that an employee who finds him/her self in a situation, under abnormal circumstances, be given a chance to explain, and receive consideration, instead of automatic termination. It is not usual for something like this to happen in government any more than it is usual in the private sector. Usually, a one-day absence without notification or explanation is grounds for discipline or termination.

    Reply this comment
    • Rev_Rock
      Rev_Rock 7 September, 2013, 14:39

      I call B.S. on this comment. Are you saying that a person can’t find a phone in under 5 days? As a state employee, I happen to know that this happens more than you’d think. State employee unions are doing nothing but turning their employees into a laughing stock. SMH!!

      Reply this comment
      • Rex the Wonderdog!
        Rex the Wonderdog! 9 September, 2013, 18:04

        Rev_Rock, don’t try to converse or engage seesaw with logic or common sense, you are much better off just ramming your head into a brick wall and calling it a day 😉

        Reply this comment
  4. BobA
    BobA 6 September, 2013, 20:00


    I think it’s no mystery why government is so screwed up. Since the government produces nothing of value, they only way they can justify their existence is to screw things up.

    Reply this comment
  5. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 7 September, 2013, 08:31

    Nothing of value? Did you back your car out of the driveway at least one time this week and put it on a public street? Did you purchase an OTC medication that you swallowed without a worry, because the government protected you from being poisoned by an unknown assailant? You, “Government is pathetic and screwed up”, whiners have the message right, except you are pointing it in the wrong direction–just hold it up, and give it a 180 degree turn! I’d like to hear what you produce that is of more important value to the people, at large, than what your government provides, BobA.

    Reply this comment
    • John Seiler
      John Seiler 7 September, 2013, 09:39

      SeeSaw: The govt. roads in California are crumbling, as is obvious. A recent study found the two worst road systems in the country were the San Jose area and the L.A./Orange County area. To pay for the pensions, the state govt. keeps siphoning off the money from the gas tax that’s supposed to go to roads:

      Solution: privatize all roads.

      As to medications, the FDA regulations now are so onerous it takes $1 billion just to develop a new drug. That means many of us will die from ailments that could have been cured except for the FDA. The FDA kills. I trust my pharmacist more than the FDA. Here’s the study:

      Solution: Abolish the FDA, let private companies vet medication quality and efficacy.

      Reply this comment
      • Rev_Rock
        Rev_Rock 7 September, 2013, 14:41

        Not to mention the drugs that the FDA has APPROVED that keep on killing people! The FDA’s as corrupt as it gets!!

        Reply this comment
      • S Moderation Douglas
        S Moderation Douglas 7 September, 2013, 20:24

        Cheap shot, John. You can nitpick about the anecdotal examples, but SeeSaw’s objection is valid. 

        BobA’s statement that “government produces nothing of value” ludicrous. 

        Reply this comment
        • John Seiler
          John Seiler 8 September, 2013, 10:17

          “Cheap shot”? “Anecdotal examples”? I provided links to studies for both govt. failures I mentioned.

          Reply this comment
          • S Moderation Douglas
            S Moderation Douglas 8 September, 2013, 13:12

            There are a lot of things I would like government to do better than they do. And some things I wish they would not try to do at all.

            But it’s a far stretch from that to “the government produces nothing of value,”

            yeah, cheap shot.

  6. Johnny TwoTimes
    Johnny TwoTimes 7 September, 2013, 08:50

    Why is this even Necessary? I am besides myself. Stupidest thing if heard of!

    Reply this comment
  7. JerryS
    JerryS 7 September, 2013, 08:52

    What the hell is wrong with these people. Don’t they have anything else to do. Wrong way to run a railroad. Oh I forgot the express train to no where.

    Reply this comment
  8. Let It Collapse
    Let It Collapse 7 September, 2013, 09:16

    I don’t know what difference it really makes.

    70% of them don’t work even when they show up.

    I guess this bill is just driving home that reality.

    Why force government workers to account for their whereabouts when all they’re good for is increasing body congestion around the office water cooler? The few that work could more easily move around the office and wouldn’t be distracted with stories about the weekend at the lake or new ways to spike pensions.

    Reply this comment
  9. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 7 September, 2013, 12:42

    Nothing is ever going to be perfect. If you all don’t like it, there is always Syria, or some other place that you think is going to treat you and protect you better than does the government of our U.S. And, fortunately you have the freedom to make a choice.

    Reply this comment
  10. Joe
    Joe 7 September, 2013, 14:49

    CA. needs a referendum vote to Amend the CA. Constitution requiring termination after 48 hours of Job abandonment. Furthermore upon termination the Terminated will unable to hold any CA state job for a period of no less than 12 Calendar years from the Date of termination.

    Reply this comment
  11. BillyBS
    BillyBS 7 September, 2013, 17:36

    I would like gov t workers and a counterpart in th private sector to exchange jobs for a period of say one month after cross training. The results would be revealing.

    Reply this comment
  12. Chrisxman
    Chrisxman 8 September, 2013, 05:23

    AWOL is good description of their normal work in Sacramento. .

    Reply this comment
  13. CB
    CB 8 September, 2013, 07:53

    It’s already happening anyway…. I have personal experience with being stuck doing someone else’s job as well as my own because she didn’t show up for a month… didn’t call in, nothing. After a month, the process was started to terminate her employment with UCD Med Center due to “job abandonment”. Ridiculous!!

    Reply this comment
  14. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 8 September, 2013, 14:36

    As I said before, I doubt that this Bill has come up for no reason whatsoever. Somebody, somewhere, was probably in a situation where they could not get word to the employer, and then they were terminated without a fair hearing. (An adult child of mine was a crime victim in another state several years ago–I did not even know about it for three days, until he regained consciousness, and was able to give the medical personnel some phone numbers to call.) Obviously, a usual worker at a usual job is not going to decide, out of the blue, to take a spontaneous vacation without notification to the employer, unless he/she is locked into some unusual circumstances or suffering a mental breakdown due to a specific trauma–it happened where I worked.

    Reply this comment
  15. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 8 September, 2013, 14:44

    BillBS, How about we take all the workers from all the retail establishments who are not on the, respective, merchandise floors of those establishments, (unlike it used to be) to help the customers, and send them to the government offices where the public will be helped by an employee, immediately. Then the counterpart government workers can go to those retail establishments and disappear, while the customers are wandering around looking for help.

    Reply this comment
  16. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 8 September, 2013, 14:49

    Joe, the Constitution has nothing to do with regular work rules–that is for the MOU’s.

    Reply this comment
  17. Rex the Wonderdog!
    Rex the Wonderdog! 9 September, 2013, 18:07

    My seesaw, you certainly are vocal here 😉

    Reply this comment
  18. plasmajam
    plasmajam 3 April, 2015, 17:33

    The CA State “AWOL Statute” is mostly a management tool to get rid of Employees. I should know. I was in a car accident and called my supervisor from the scene. My car was a total loss and I went straight to the hospital with a sore neck, which was diagnosed as whiplash (cliche’, i know).
    I called my supervisor and he stated to me, “Go to the hospital right now. You just worry about getting well and bring your doctor’s note when you come back to work, we know where you live, ha ha. Just worry about getting better.”
    After I recover from my injury, I returned to duty with my doctor’s note and I am told to leave as I have been “AWOL separated/ terminated”.
    My supervisor claims he didn’t know about my leave, nor did he approve it….and I called him every other day to keep him informed of my condition. He LIED. I DIED (Not really, but inside, I did).
    I am a US Army Veteran and have a legit disability covered by FMLA and the ADA. But, management HATES the fact that I can “Take any day off, whenever I choose” (Their words. Not reality). They do not understand what FMLA is for, I would venture to guess. They tried to get rid of me for years, hoping I would leave their hostile environment. I would not. I stayed and dodged the bullets.
    Well, I got hit. AWOL separated after 18 1/2 yrs with the State. The day after Christmas. They laughed at my request for any pay beyond the $700.00 they gave me for unused sick time. I am out of a job and my wife just had a mastectomy. Our insurance is gone. I am burning through my 401k. I’d rather be back out in the desert.
    Anyway, this appeals process referred to in the article is a safeguard for the behavior of state managers, who often are ignorant of Union contracts’ agreements with the State. I suspect they figured I was “draining the state coffers of cash”, due to my disability…. and wanted my termination on their office wall for all the other managers to see.
    He’s being hailed as a hero.
    My only chance is to go before a Judge and explain myself. CA state doctrine is to believe the supervisor/director’s determination (The appointing power) over an employee. I have the burden of proof and it’s my word against theirs. BTW, I was not allowed back inside the facility to retrieve any physical evidence for my hearing. They got me good.
    And I was 1 1/2 yrs away from retirement.

    Reply this comment

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