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Gov. Jerry Brown furloughs some state workers

July 11, 2012 |  3:07 pm

Brown sign budgetGov. Jerry Brown is bringing down the hammer on two unions that have not agreed to wage cuts, issuing a furlough order for about 11,600 state workers.

The order was issued last week, and it reduces pay for the workers by almost 5% by forcing them to take one day off a month. The affected employees include engineers at Caltrans, the state transportation agency, and machine operators.

The furloughs are similar to the personal leave programs that have been negotiated between the Brown administration and 19 of the state's 21 bargaining units. But the final two units have not agreed to any deal.

"We can’t agree to our members taking a pay cut if they outsource our jobs at twice the cost," said Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government.

Lynelle Jolley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Human Resources, said state officials are still open to negotiations but "no sessions are currently scheduled."

Furloughs have been controversial before, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough orders led to a legal battle between the state and its employees. The resulting California Supreme Court decision requires governors to secure the approval of unions or lawmakers before forcing mandatory days off.

The budget signed by Brown last month included the necessary legislative approval for furloughs if negotiations did not achieve pay cuts, which the governor hopes will save $402 million in the fiscal year that started this month.

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

twitter.com/ChrisMegerian

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Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown during a ceremony when he signed last year's budget. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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