California Governor Jerry Brown blasted Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for having the audacity to impose furloughs in an effort to plug gaping holes in the state’s budget during his administration.
However, as governor, Jerry Brown has quietly imposed a one-day-per-month furlough on about 12,000 state workers less than two years into his own term, according to a Sacramento Bee report.
For the first time in over three years of state furloughs, all state workers under Brown’s control must take the unpaid furlough days. The cuts represent approximately 5 percent reduction in pay for all affected state employees - an $839 million cut in state payroll costs for the new fiscal year.
In 2010 Brown criticized Schwarzenegger's furloughs as "a temporary solution to a permanent problem."
For their part, most of the unions negotiated these latest reductions with Brown in return for contract extensions or tighter reviews of government outsourcing, prompting workers to criticize Brown for talking liberal talk but not walking the walk during his campaign.
Two unions, representing state engineers and heavy equipment operators, held out. However Brown, with California's Democrat-controlled legislative approval - through a memo sent last Thursday - ordered departments to furlough all state workers under his administrative control, including those under contract.
A Schwarzenegger administration might have been stunned by the Democratic legislators' sudden about-face on furloughs. The actor-turned-politician was constantly pummeled by union leaders and a Democrat-controlled legislature over furloughs and other organized labor issues. Schwarzenegger’s administration was defending against an onslaught of 40 furlough lawsuits when he left office.
Schwarzenegger won some cases and lost many more, but thousands of employees escaped the pay cut. Ironically, under Democrat Jerry Brown, workers are now being forced to comply with more unpaid furloughs than Schwarzenegger ever proposed.
Brown negotiated forced furloughs with 19 of 21 unions that represent about 182,000 unionized state workers under his control, including the two hold out groups.
Although an expected PECG lawsuit would focus on its members, a win would have wider implications for future contracts, according to Sacramento-based labor attorney Tim Yeung.
If unions decide to represent their clients as aggressively as they did under Schwarzenegger’s administration, Gov. Brown may need a furlough-lawyer referral from The Terminator.