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Furloughs off as appeals court hands Schwarzenegger legal defeat

August 12, 2010 |  1:00 pm

State worker furloughs are officially off. For now.

A state appeals court Thursday upheld a lower court decision blocking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order imposing the mandatory days offs for roughly 150,000 state employees.

In a brief notice posted its website, the 1st District Court of Appeal denied the governor’s effort to overturn a decision earlier this week blocking the furloughs. The Schwarzenegger administration, in a memo to department heads on Thursday, said it would appeal the ruling to the California Supreme Court.

Labor unions, which filed the lawsuit seeking to stop the latest round of furloughs, cheered the ruling.

“Members won’t be cheated out of part of their paychecks, but there are still some legal battles to go,” said Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government, which represents about 11,000 state employees.

Schwarzenegger ordered the three monthly furlough days in late July, four weeks after the fiscal year began with no state budget in place. The governor said it was necessary to conserve cash.

The furloughs are the equivalent of a 14% pay cut for workers. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Steven A. Brick issued a restraining order against the furloughs earlier this week, ruling that "the balance of hardships tips in favor" of the workers, who face "great or irreparable harm."

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento