Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Furloughs Upheld

In some rare good news for taxpayers, the California Supreme Court ruling that furloughs for state employees are not a violation of the state constitution. (Some workers get every other Friday off as unpaid leave.) This will give Meg Whitman an opportunity to have some tough negotiations with the unions, because she will have a good hand. She can threaten more furloughs if the unions aren't reasonable over salaries. If Jerry Brown is elected, forgot about it.

From the U-T article:

The latest furlough order exempts departments that collect revenue, such as the Franchise Tax Board, and provide public safety protection, including the California Highway Patrol.

It also exempts about 37,000 workers in six unions that recently reached tentative labor agreements with the Schwarzenegger administration. Those unions agreed for their members to contribute more of their salaries toward their pension benefits and to take one day of unpaid personal leave a month, the equivalent of a nearly 5 percent pay cut.

Is there any doubt that those concessions would not have been won without the furloughs?

I have been thinking about how to deal with the pension issue for a while. Couldn't the state negotiate new agreements with current employees to immediately reduce the burden of pensions on the state budget? Of course they could, but what about negotiations over pensions earned in the past for employees who have not yet retired, could a retroactive change be lawful if their union agreed to it?