Governator Legally Furloughed The Hell Out Of California State Workers, Court Says

Since Skynet and Rekall couldn’t thwart Arnold Schwarzenegger, California government employees probably knew they were in for a beatdown when they sued the governor. They contended he lacked authority to force them to take 46 unpaid days off between February 2009 and June 2010.

The Sacramento Bee reports the California Supreme Court ruled for the governor due to a technicality. Although the workers were correct in contending Schwarzenegger lacked unilateral authority to impose the furlough days, he landed implied approval from the state legislature, which plugged the $3 billion savings into its budgets.

So the rule is that since representatives believed Schwarzenegger had the power to do as he pleased, it gave him that authority. The moral is more A Nightmare on Elm Street than Running Man, but this is still proof that government life imitates Hollywood.

Supreme Court rules for Schwarzenegger in furlough matter [The Sacramento Bee via Yahoo]

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  1. jshier says:

    They should be glad he didn’t just fire them. How many surplus workers do you need to have if telling everyone to take 46 days off doesn’t affect the functionality of the government?

    • madmallard says:

      tis not the number of workers, but their combined sense of entitlement…

    • Sian says:

      You’re assuming it was functional beforehand.

    • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

      When said government agencies were CLOSED the days those workers were furloughed, or lines for service doubled when they were gone, yes, I’d say the functionality of the agency was affected.

    • Arcaeris says:

      As a former State of California employee, you’re full of crap.

      How many excess employees does the DMV have when they have to close 3 freakng Fridays a month and the lines are an hour or two every other day? And when you want to make an appointment, it’s 6 months from now.

      How many extra California State and University of California employees are there when the schools have to cancel classes because they can’t afford to hire professors? When individual lectures are cancelled at random 10 times a semester because the school can’t afford to have the professor teach that day? When students take 5+ years to graduate simply because the schools can’t afford to offer all the required courses every semester, and when they are offered, there’s a waiting list 500 students deep?

      Who exactly do you think all these surplus workers are?

      • zekebullseye says:

        Wow, that’s all kinds of messed up.

      • Syncop8d1 says:

        Yeah, I ran into the problem of the DMV being closed on Friday when I flew out to California for my 20th high school reunion. I have a car purchased in California back in 2002. The lender “lost” my title so I have to go to the DMV to file a lost title report. I cannot contact them by phone because the line is always busy. The Friday when I was in tow2n, was the Friday where all the offices were closed. So here I am over a year later and still not title. I cannot file for a lost title in TX because they need the CA title before I can get a T X title. *sigh* Also, I was horrified when I learned of the 30% increase in tuition at the Cal State schools. This makes me grateful that I graduated from Cal State Long Beach back in ’02.
        In summary, it sucks!

      • _UsUrPeR_ says:

        Why do people still live in Cali?

  2. Bernardo says:

    Good for him! I have been following all his work to help that state since day 2 and everytime he has to make a tough call there are always people willing to give him hell for it. He and Bloomberg are my two fave living elected officials now. They are only in it because they want to make change for the better and try not to play the partisen cards too often. its a shame those workers had to take those days off, but at least they are still employed. At least they still have health care.

    • diagoro says:

      Seriously????? I’ll admit that he wanted to make a change when he started in office. But oddly, in complete opposition to his on-screen persona, he has no backbone!! He’s had numerous chances to stick to his guns, especially that election four years ago (part of it was the rezoning?), where he totally caved in after the nursing union and others were all over him.

      Another perfect example……a few months ago he FINALLY signed a bill redacting any state tax obligation in the case if a short-sale, something most other states had already done within the past few years. Possibly the worst state for foreclosures and we have to wait this long??? He’s only interested in being liked and sticking to his ridiculous “global warming” bill (which will kill up to a MILLION jobs!).

      He called the weak politicians ‘girly boys’, yet he’s been nothing but that himself. Where’s all the money from the feds to help cover the cost of illegal immigrants? Where’s the great change in budget matters? We’re worse off than we were before…thanks Arnold!

      • Syncop8d1 says:

        Well, I remember when CA was all up in arms over Gray Davis and the rolling blackouts. Although I had no data to back this up, I had a feeling that he was a scapegoat to a bad situation. Apparently, bad deals with Enron contributed to energy costs rising in CA in the early 2000’s, which resulted in the blackouts. So, everyone came out with their pitchforks and ousted Davis and replaced him with Schwarzenegger. I don’t know what the answer is. Just my 2cents.

        • outshined says:

          You nailed it, in a nutshell.

          They could have replaced Davis with my kitteh with the same outcome. Actually, my kitteh doesn’t take any crap so maybe he’d make a good governor.

    • VeganPixels says:

      Keep following from a distance because you have no clue what’s been going on within our borders for the last 8+ years. CA government is “run” by 2 factions: minority Reverse party and prison guards.

  3. Macgyver says:

    All these states are trying to get out of debt, but these stupid ass f’ed up unions are making it impossible.
    All unions should be abolished.
    Then maybe the country can get out of debt. And their will be more money for companies to hire people, so then we’ll have less unemployment.

    • Blackadar says:

      I’m sure there’s an Econ 101 class in your local community college. Perhaps you need to look into enrolling.

      • AI says:

        Which will tell you that unions create a false monopoly on labour. There is a demand for workers, there is a surplus of them, yet the company cannot hire the surplus workers because they’re legally obligated to only hire from the union…..which they had no say in when it set up.

        • wrjohnston91283 says:

          They had a say. They agreed to the contract they negotiated with the union.

          • Sneeje says:

            Which the federal government forces them to do. They have a say only in the terms of the contract, which obviously must agree with the union. They cannot choose, however, to walk away from the union and hire elsewhere. Thus the false monopoly.

            If you think your “say” is really significant, then perhaps you should try (I have) to significantly change employment terms or expand/shrink the laborforce in a union environment. It is all but impossible.

        • Brink006 says:

          It seems like workers are creating a corporation… of labor… when they create a union….

          More condescending, passive/aggressive ellipses for you… … … …

    • Akuma Matata says:

      all *public sector* unions should be abolished. If private sector employees want to form a union, that’s fine. When that union bankrupts its employer (assuming that union hasn’t become too big to fail), it only affects that employer.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Dude, I have no problem with private sector unions existing (although I think there are major problems in the union culture and system, but that’s another post) but PUBLIC SECTOR unions should be abolished.

      If a private company with a union is stupid and overpays, they’ll go out of business and into bankruptcy. Either they tear up the union contract there or go out of business. That risk has the union (theoretically) playing to allow the business to keep going.

      Public sector unions? They just campaign to raise taxes to keep paying their members… and yet they provide no real service to the government.

  4. jenjenjen says:

    I had an 18 day furlough last year. We told our union to not fight it, because we knew that doing so would just result in layoffs, and with the economy the way it is we did not want to see that happen. But to be honest, being told to be happy you have a job at all really only goes so far. Yes, I am happy I have a job. Unemployment scares the crap out of me because there are very few jobs open in my profession. But it’s hard to make that a reason to be excited every day.

    • dolemite says:

      Same where I work. You are supposed to be happy you have a job, but then you are working 55-60 hour weeks (no overtime), and after 2 years, you get a 1% pay increase. Meanwhile, the company is going to be about 1-2 million away from making its highest profits ever in a year. And no one wants to say anything for fear of losing their job.

      • Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

        I’m not gonna debate your reasoning for being disillusioned, but let me tell you from a first hand perspective that you should be kissing the ass of every person who hasn’t fired you yet.

        I was laid off in March 2009 from a 60K/yr job and absolutely could not find any work; and this includes fast food and janitorial. Granted I was in Phoenix and that city is a wasteland but it took me 16 months, a move to Denver and some serious re-education to be able to get a $29k/yr medic job. (I had left for some personal reasons 11 years ago and had to get re certified). And for a 52% pay cut, loss of my home and moved away from my family, and at 40, starting over, I’m overjoyed to have even that.

        Be happy your employer is making money because the alternative is my experience.

        • dolemite says:

          Yeah, on the one hand you have to be grateful…on the other you know they are raking it in hand over fist and are shoving the other fist up your behind because they know they can get away with it.

          Sad that the US is basically turning into some third world country. Soon we will have just the rich, the government and the poor. I think that’s why we are seeing an increase in support for universal healthcare, big government, etc. When the middle class dries up completely, we are going to need Uncle Sam to pick the pockets of the mega rich to give us some table scraps.

          • Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

            Not likely. It’s an employers market right now. Just a short (economically speaking) 10-12 years ago it was an employee’s market. Remember all the stories of new MBA’s not even out of school with 100K/yr jobs lined up. It’ll turn, it always does.

            Just wait till the baby boomers start retiring en masse as they become too old/tired to work.

  5. RipCanO'Flarp. says:

    Entitlement comes to mind after reading this- we live in Columbus OH- a lot of my friends are state employees and they are the most entitled bunch of folks I know. Given OH’s financial state you should be gracious you even have a job. What? You have to pay $15 more dollars in health care per month that barely costs you anything to begin with and your making a phat paycheck with excellent retirement and benefits. Whatever……

    • exconsumer says:

      I’m sorry but no. Its fair to ask any organization with which you have an agreement to actually honor that agreement. There’s no entitlement involved. They got a good deal, in writing, and they want to keep it. I don’t understand this idea that you should hold everyone around you to a particular standard . . unless that person is your employer . . and you have a better deal compared to a few of your friends. In that case, you should just behave as though you are powerless.

      Nonsense.

      • JayPhat says:

        It would be fair if the governments weren’t held hostage by organizations that demand rediculous salaries that dwarf their private sector counterparts. But, then again, the governments DID agree to those wages and benefits.

        Personnally, I think it has come high time to start cleaning out government employees and start hiring from scratch. Everyone but, fire, police, teachers, and emergency responders goes. Then we rehire back what we can afford. Private companies have to do this to stay viable, states should too.

    • Brink006 says:

      That’s probably a pension, AND PEOPLE PAY INTO PENSIONS.

  6. dolemite says:

    Not that I’m complaining, but that sounds like ‘ol GW. “Look, I know the Constitution doesn’t give me certain powers, but I declare war on anyone against the US of A! Now that we are at war perpetually against an unknown enemy…I have those powers!”

    • dorianh49 says:

      I don’t think he would say “perpetually”. More like “in perpetuition”.

    • craptastico says:

      actually it’s nothing like that. it’s more like unions gave a lot of money to election compaigns and then those elected officials rewarded them with sweetheart employment terms. now it’s being reversed b/c it should have been illegal to negotiate public employee contracts that way to begin with

  7. W10002 says:

    I felt that while furloughs was definitely a douchey move, the alternative of huge budget cuts and lay-offs seem worse. It’s easy to criticize the Governator, but tough decisions had to be made. Regardless, everyone loses in this case.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Really? We have public employees take of 46 extra days this year (that’s more than 10% of the year) and California is not a wasteland because of the inability to access government services.

      Perhaps that proves a point that there is something of a bloat in the number of public employees…

      • dolemite says:

        Or government in general. “Well, we NEED 1 trillion more in taxes…or else the statue downtown won’t get cleaned…there might be litter on the street …umm…leaf pickup will only be every other day….what else….?”

      • Kitamura says:

        Perhaps the next step would be to start cutting some of that bloat out, unless he also lacks the authority to do that.

      • Rachacha says:

        Government (local, state and federal) is in many cases a service oriented industry. While a furlough may reduce the number of hours that individuals are working in a year, it does not impact the amount of work that needs to be processed. For example:

        Department of Motor Vehicles:
        Lets assume that in a typical day, a DMV office processes 5000 transactions. Full staffing on a weekday at the DMV office results in a typical 1.5 hour wait/processing time for those 5000 transactions. If you put 10% of your staff on furlough on a particular day, you will not be able to process 5000 transactions in a given day, or if you do, wait times will likely increase. Similar situations would occur at welfare offices, unemployment offices, building permits & inspection offices etc.

        Department of Transportation:
        DOT is responsible for maintaining roads and keeping them in generally good repair. If you put 10% of your staff on furlough each day, you will be able to fix fewer pot holes, trim/cut fewer miles of grass, trim less trees from roadways, and replace fewer signs in need of repair. In most cases, you won’t notice an immediate degredation in service, but if you keep this up for an extended period, you will notice more potholes, taller grass, and more damaged signs.

        My examples of course assume that each employee is working at or near their full capacity, and that jobs are being done efficiently. For example, does a pothole repair crew really need 10 people to shovel a bit of asphault in a hole, or can they get by with 3 or 4 men (2 to shovel/stomp the asphault and 1-2 to direct traffic around the lanes that are closed during the repair. With fewer people on each crew, each pothole may take longer to repair, but instead of 1 crew of 10 people, you can have 3 crews of 3 people who can each be repairing a different hole at the same time.

  8. leprechaunshawn says:

    This is putting my reading comprehension skills to the test. Let me see if I’m getting this right. The Governator does not have the authority to furlough state workers. But since the members of the Legislature thought he did, he does?

    • exconsumer says:

      The legislature passed budgets that included the financial benefit of the furloughs . . . so they tacitly gave him the power to do so.

  9. majortom1981 says:

    Wow Most people have no idea about public employees. I am a public employee in NY .I pay $100 a paycheck for health insurance which is actually more then what my wife pays for hers (she works i na law firm). I also pay into my pension. The people who get the furlough are the people at the dmv where you go to register your car. The people who are at the desk who you pay taxes to.

    Its the people who do all the work .NEVER the politicians and manager making $200k a year.

    Here in nY most peoples tax bills are actually their school taxes. Most tax bills 75 percent is school tax but its easier to blame the state then it is to blame the schools.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      My wife is a teacher. Teacher’s Unions and cries of “but the children!” have pretty much kept the spending on education from ever getting a hard look.

      It needs it and we’re finally able to break through that. I’m with you, not every public employee has a easy job, but there are a lot who get benefits FAR beyond what you could get in a private employer.

      The fact you have a pension is a huge perk… try finding that out in the private sector.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        The pensions in state employment have been historically good because the pay for similar jobs (especially in IT) falls below that in private industry. So, the choice has always been, have sucky retirement savings options but great pay in private industry, or have sucky pay, but good bennies in the State.

        Or go the third way: become a contractor for the state, and make that money!!

        • richcreamerybutter says:

          Indeed, the pay is below the private sector. I was actively pursued by a New York City department a couple of years ago, and the starting salary was 1/3 the private sector equivalent for my skill set. Although the benefits were decent, the environment was very strict in most respects. There is definitely a trade off if one switches from one system to the other.

          I also notice the so-called “entitlement” of government workers is never an issue when the private sector reaps the benefits of a good economy. Their salaries aren’t subject to the rise and fall of those in other industries depending on the climate. Realistically, if government workers do not have some sort of union protection (and pay raise guarantee) along with a respectable benefits package, what’s the incentive to keep workers during times of plenty? I’d much rather retain a set of employees familiar with the system for the long term than trying to get a driver’s license from an unskilled temp because the seasoned worker was off to a higher-paying job (imagine if a food inspector was examining a McDonalds he/she’d just left the week before!) We really don’t need a high turnover rate for government jobs.

        • richcreamerybutter says:

          Indeed, the pay is below the private sector. I was actively pursued by a New York City department a couple of years ago, and the starting salary was 1/3 the private sector equivalent for my skill set. Although the benefits were decent, the environment was very strict in most respects. There is definitely a trade off if one switches from one system to the other.

          I also notice the so-called “entitlement” of government workers is never an issue when the private sector reaps the benefits of a good economy. Their salaries aren’t subject to the rise and fall of those in other industries depending on the climate. Realistically, if government workers do not have some sort of union protection (and pay raise guarantee) along with a respectable benefits package, what’s the incentive to keep workers during times of plenty? I’d much rather retain a set of employees familiar with the system for the long term than trying to get a driver’s license from an unskilled temp because the seasoned worker was off to a higher-paying job (imagine if a food inspector was examining a McDonalds he/she’d just left the week before!) We really don’t need a high turnover rate for government jobs.

    • Portlandia says:

      That’s not true. I have a friend who works for an agency of the state of CA and makes well over $150k a year is in management and he was furloughed also. So, your assessment saying that it’s only the front line workers is incorrect.

  10. diagoro says:

    There’s a local radio show that’s always beating the *&*p out of government workers (I’m in Orange County). And while I love the show and most of their other stands, this one really gets me.

    I used to work for the state, in the university system. We worked damn hard, only received cost of living increases, and were always under threat of losing pay because of the cyclical budget crisis. And this was eight years ago! Granted, I was happy to have a job, and liked what I did, and my pay was set by the contract I signed. I also realize that there are too many ‘bad employees’, regardless the system. Just sucks to be lumped in with this crowd………

    • Trick says:

      Oh look, a John & Ken Fan! :)

    • MrEvil says:

      Which is why in all my dealings with public sector workers I try to be as polite and courteous as possible.

    • Brink006 says:

      Orange County is the worst place I’ve lived in the first world. It’s a bunch of “fuck you; got mine” assholes who would like you to believe in the battle between those who have only their labor with which to negotiate vs. the management and decision-makers of a company with all the financial and industrial capital, the ones who negotiate with their labor are the reason for failure. You’ll find people who cite the US auto industry and blame unions, except even if the workers literally worked for free, GM would’ve been losing about $30 billion a year.

  11. dgingras says:

    Arnold illegally began furloughs in Feb 2008. The Supreme court ruling’s techincality was the legislature appropriating the furlough savings into a budget act in September 2008. Doesn’t it seem wrong that the future can make an illegal past legal?

    Why don’t I just rob a bank and then lobby for legal bank robbery and then become retroactively innocent?

  12. jake.valentine says:

    Public Employee Unions are killing the ability for any state/local government entity to function properly in California despite the fact that the union employees themselves will be worse off in the end. Don’t laugh though, your state may be next! We have a quasi-aristocracy out here in Cali and the privileged are the local government employees. They believe the citizens exist only to further tax in order to maintain an unsustainable standard of living for members of the government family.