State labor negotiations could extend past budget deadline
Even though Friday is the deadline for lawmakers to pass the state budget, critical negotiations with state workers may not be finished by then. Nonetheless, Gov. Jerry Brown plans to include a 5% cut in compensation to state workers in the final budget, even as administration officials continue talks with union officials.
"There's no way this negotiation will happen by Friday," said Willie Pelote Sr., the California president of the Assn. of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees.
Pelote's organization includes two bargaining units in negotiations with Brown administration officials: 3,500 physicians and dentists and 5,000 pharmacists, social workers and rehabilitation therapists.
"We want to be helpful," Pelote said, "but the people who work in this state have been taking the hit."
Brown started negotiations by proposing $402 million in budget savings by shifting some state workers to a 38-hour, four-day workweek. Unions want the state to stop paying private contractors to do jobs they say their members can do.
So far, the California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen is the only union that has reached an agreement with the Brown administration, according to Lynelle Jolley, spokeswoman for the Department of Personnel Administration.
Negotiations with the largest state worker union, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, began on Saturday. The union represents about half of the state's 182,000 employees, and President Yvonne Walker warned members over the weekend that cuts were coming. She also praised Brown, saying previous governors simply cut back on state workers without negotiations.
H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for Brown's Department of Finance, and Jim Zamora, a spokesman for SEIU 1000, declined to comment on when negotiations might conclude.
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown greets union supporters in Los Angeles while on the campaign trail in 2010. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times