April 21, 2015
Many PECG members at the PUC and CalFIRE have inquired about the recent PECG announcement of two days of court ordered back-pay for illegal furloughs in March 2011. Employees of the PUC and CalFIRE were exempt from the three-day per month furloughs which began in August 2010 and ran through March 2011. As PECG represented employees at the PUC and CalFIRE were not subject to these furloughs, you will not receive back pay for the two illegal March 2011 furlough days. Unit 9 employees at the PUC and CalFIRE began a personal leave program (not furlough) in April 2011 which was not part of the litigation.
Unit 9 employees will receive back pay if they were furloughed in March 2011. If you have any questions, please contact a PECG office.
April 17, 2015
Most Unit 9 employees have received their payment for two days of excessive furloughs resulting from PECG’s successful lawsuit. The direct deposits or checks included tax and other deductions. However, some employees or retirees have not yet received those payments. If you were in Unit 9, worked in March 2011, and were furloughed but did not receive the payment, contact the PECG Sacramento Office.
Some employees have also received checks for interest. Deductions were not made from those payments, which generally range between $60 and $80. If you received payment for the two days of furlough but not the interest, don’t be concerned. It may take a while until all of the interest payments are made.
January 30, 2015
All Unit 9 employees are still scheduled to receive two days of back pay as the result of PECG’s lawsuit challenging the 2011 furloughs, but issuance of the checks is taking longer than anticipated. PECG argued, and the Superior and Appellate Courts agreed, that the furloughs in 2011 exceeded legislative authority. Thus, the state owes Unit 9 employees two days of back pay, based on each employee’s salary in March 2011, plus 2.2% interest from that date. CalHR and the State Controller’s Office now anticipate checks will be issued in March, with interest.
October 22, 2014
PECG filed a lawsuit which challenged Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2010 furloughs of Unit 9 employees as being excessive. Bargaining Unit employees were furloughed two days more than supervisors and managers despite the legislative requirement that the furloughs be “proportionate”.
The Superior Court agreed with PECG and, in September, the Court of Appeal affirmed that ruling. While CalHR, representing the Governor, could seek to have the decision reviewed by the State Supreme Court, they have informed PECG that they will not do so. Thus, the Appellate Court ruling will become final and all Unit 9 employees will receive two days of back pay. It may take a while to determine the amount of the payment due to each employee, but PECG will work with CalHR to help expedite the process.
Unit 10 scientists, represented by CAPS, will also receive the “back pay” award. Other organizations representing state employees chose not to participate in the suit.
September 12, 2014
The Court of Appeal has ruled that all Unit 9 employees shall receive two days of back pay because furloughs in 2010-11 were excessive. When the Legislature adopted a State Budget in October 2010, it specified that the furloughs for Bargaining Unit employees and supervisors/managers shall be “proportionate.” However, the Bargaining Unit employees were furloughed two days more than supervisors and managers.
PECG and CAPS (representing state scientists) filed suit. The Trial Court ruled in PECG’s favor and this week the Court of Appeal agreed that Unit 9 (and Unit 10) employees must receive “back pay” for the two “unlawful” additional furlough days. Several other organizations representing state employees had been invited to join in the lawsuit but they declined to do so, so the decision will not apply to them.
The Trial Court also ruled that about 200 Unit 9 employees working on military base remediation were entitled to additional back pay but the Court of Appeal overturned that part of the decision.
Because the ruling has just been issued, we do not know if the state will appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court, which could delay its implementation.
Furlough lawsuits remain active in the California courts. The initial challenges by PECG and others against Governor Schwarzenegger’s furloughs were rejected by the courts because they came at times when Memoranda of Understanding were not in place.
PECG filed another action based on deficiencies in the conduct of the furloughs – they were imposed disproportionally, they violated other statutes, etc. That challenge, thus far, has been successful. An Alameda Superior Court concluded that PECG was correct, ruling that two days of the March 2011 furloughs for Unit 9 employees were illegal and some PECG members who worked on military base remediation were entitled to up to 70 days of back pay. That case is now in the Court of Appeal and both parties filed additional legal briefs (written arguments) this week to respond to additional questions asked by the court. Oral argument in the Court of Appeal is anticipated sometime this spring.
PECG’s latest lawsuit challenged the one day per month furloughs imposed by the Legislature and the Governor from July 2012 through June 2013. This was the first time furloughs had been unilaterally implemented during the term of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). As the MOU is a binding contract and pay was reduced for all Unit 9 employees below the level specified in the contract, PECG alleged that the Legislature (and Governor) unconstitutionally impaired the provisions of a contract.
This week, an Alameda Superior Court Judge issued a ruling. Stated simply, he disagreed. Because of provisions in the Dills Act and in the statutes which implemented the MOU and the State Budget, he concluded that the Legislature’s decision to reduce the appropriation (authorized funding) for state employee compensation for that fiscal year also authorized the Legislature and the Governor to impose furloughs during the contract term.
This is a significant ruling, as it calls into question the advisability of entering into multi-year contracts with the State in the future. PECG’s attorneys are analyzing the advisability of appealing this ruling to the Court of Appeal.
Every Bargaining Unit 9 employee is entitled to receive two days of back pay and more than 200 PECG members will be awarded up to 70 days of back pay because they were illegally furloughed. This was the ruling of Alameda Superior Court Judge Steven A. Brick in a lawsuit filed by PECG on behalf of the members.
Because Unit 9 employees were furloughed two days more than supervisors and the law specifies that furloughs must be proportionate, the Judge awarded two days of back pay to all 10,000 employees in Unit 9. In addition, 200 PECG members at the Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Toxic Substances Control who worked on hazardous substance management and remediation at military bases will be entitled to receive between two and 70 days of back pay, depending on how many months they worked in that assignment. Finally, nine PECG members at the California Housing Finance Agency and Prison Industry Authority will receive up to 70 days of back pay due to the illegal furloughs.
PECG was joined in the lawsuit by the California Association of Professional Scientists, representing state scientists. The total award appears to be in excess of $10 million.
Judge Brick issued his final Judgment on August 2. The state has 60 days to appeal his ruling to the Court of Appeal, if they choose to do so.
The judgment only applies to employees represented by PECG and CAPS. It will not be available to employees in other State Bargaining Units.
Appellate Court Upholds $9 Million Furlough Decision Against Jerry Brown, Sacramento Bee, 09/15/2014
A San Francisco appellate court has upheld a trial judge’s decision that Gov. Jerry Brown wrongly furloughed thousands of state-government scientists and engineers three years ago.
Hearing Date Set for California Civil Engineers’ Furlough Case, Sacramento Bee, 06/23/2014
The next stage in a battle over furloughs between Gov. Jerry Brown and California’s state engineers’ union is set for next month when the two sides will argue the case in a San Francisco appellate court.
More Arguments Filed in Unions’ Court Fight with Brown Administration, Sacramento Bee, 12/10/13
Gov. Jerry Brown and two unions representing state engineers and scientists filed more arguments on Monday in their two-year-old court fight over furloughs.
Jerry Brown Continues Furlough Lawsuit Fight with California Engineers, Scientists, Sacramento Bee, 08/15/12
Well, it’s not over yet. Gov. Jerry Brown has decided to appeal a trial court’s decision that the state wrongly furloughed thousands of state workers and owes them millions of dollars in back pay.
Would Layoffs Be Better Than Furloughs for California’s Employees?, Sacramento Bee, 08/09/12
Given California’s serial budget crises, don’t be surprised if you start hearing about a push to speed up the state’s glacial employee layoff process – from state workers themselves.
Gov. Jerry Brown must decide by the end of next month whether to keep fighting state engineers and scientists over a recent furlough lawsuit he lost or pay $12 million in back wages to settle accounts.
Government Labor Unions Give Ground in California as Budgets are Squeezed, Sacramento Bee, 07/04/12
When California’s largest public employee union announced Tuesday that its members accepted another year of furloughs, it was one more sign that government labor unions are moving to make concessions.
A new budget bill has restored language that would allow Gov. Jerry Brown to furlough state workers without an agreement with their unions.
Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government, said that union’s rank and file — most of them Caltrans employees — reject the proposed 5 percent cut altogether, given the state’s continued spending to outsource work that state workers could do.
Court Awards Back Pay for Furloughs to State Workers, 6/8/12 Sacramento Bee
An Alameda County judge on Thursday ruled that state government engineers and scientists are owed back wages because they were excessively furloughed last year.
13,000 California State Workers Win Back Pay in Furlough Lawsuit – 6/7/12 Sacramento Bee
An Alameda County judge has ruled that state engineers and scientists are owed back wages because they were excessively furloughed last year.
Furloughs Take Toll on State Worker Pay – 2/11/11 Sacramento Bee
After two years of furloughs and frustration, the fallout from state worker pay cuts is stark and tangible.
The 1st District Court of Appeal has lifted an decision that stopped union challenges to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s last furlough order, referring the matter to Alameda Superior Court for more litigation as that court “may deem appropriate.”