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State workers wait for August furloughs

July 28, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
More time off for state workers due to California's fiscal crisis. Thousands of workers will once again be furloughed until California passes a budget.Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's new executive order requires workers to take three unpaid days off per month.

Just when state employees thought they were done with furlough days, the ax is poised again.

For Connie Esparza, who works in the California Department of Justice, it means more work undone.

"The work that is protecting the community from people that are bad," said Esparza.

This is the third time the governor has taken such action to slash salaries and cut worker hours, a tactic designed to cut spending and pressure the state legislature to pass a budget.

"The controller has made it very clear that the state of California will be running out of cash by end of August, beginning of September," said Schwarzenegger.

But many labor unions are up in arms. They include the Professional Engineers in California Government, who survey highways and inspect water quality. They accuse the governor of strong-arm tactics.

"We are not interested in the take-aways and the lack of good faith in bargaining that the governor is trying to do now," said Jesse Rodriguez, Professional Engineers in Calif. Gov't.

Friction is on the rise. In this round of furloughs, six departments get a pass that didn't have one last time.

They include the Employment Development Department and the California Franchise Tax Board.

The tax collecters reportedly were spared because of a study showing that the department's furloughs cost $7 of revenue for every one dollar saved on the payroll.

The engineers argue there's also waste when furloughs force projects into a non-bid process.

"This is the Department of Finance's own numbers: double of what it would have cost had a Caltrans engineer done that same project," said Rodriguez.

Frustration builds as the budget stalement enters its fifth week and workers await their marching orders.


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