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Judge orders immediate end to furloughs for tens of thousands of state workers [Updated]

March 24, 2010 | 11:42 am

An Alameda County Superior Court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to end furloughs immediately for tens of thousands of state workers.

Judge Frank Roesch's latest ruling stemmed from an earlier judgment this year in which he ordered the employees back to work. An appeal filed by the administration had put that order on hold -- until Wednesday, when the judge, who had repeatedly ruled in favor of labor unions and against Gov. Schwarzenegger’s power to furlough state employees, lifted the stay on his decision.

The workers have been forced to take off two to three days per month without pay since February 2009 under the governor's furlough plan. Roesch’s ruling applies to state employees who work for agencies that are not funded by California’s general fund. That includes the Department of Motor Vehicles and unemployment offices, among others.

Yvonne Walker, president of the Service Employees International Union 1000, which filed the lawsuit, said in an e-mail that employees at those state agencies can report to work on April 2, their next scheduled furlough day.

The Schwarzenegger administration, which did not immediately respond to request for comment, can request the appellate court overrule Roesch’s latest decision. The administration has already asked the state's Supreme Court to consolidate many of the dozens of pending furlough lawsuits and issue an overarching opinion on the governor's authority to force workers to take unpaid days off to save the state money.

[Updated at 12:18 p.m.: Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Rachel Arrezola says the governor’s office plans to ask California’s 1st District Court of Appeal to stay Judge Roesch’s ruling.

"We disagree with the judge’s decision," she said. "Ultimately, the California Supreme Court will decide on this, and we are confident they will rule to uphold the governor’s authority" to furlough workers.]

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

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