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Furlough Case Heard By State Supreme Court

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The case before the court is one of more than 30 related to the Governor's furlough order.  Schwarzenegger first ordered unpaid days off for about 200-thousand state workers early last year.  Unions sued, arguing he didn't have the authority. Patrick Whalen is with CASE, which represents attorneys, administrative law judges and hearing officers who work for the state:

"There's no question that if the Governor has the power to furlough employees that he claims he has, labor agreements are completely meaningless.  He could furlough people for 1,2,3,25 days a month so that they don't get any salary whatsoever and still argue, well, I'm not violating the contract."

Schwarzenegger Department of Finance spokesman HD Palmer says the furloughs are necessary to conserve cash during the budget crisis.  He says the Supreme Court will settle the issue once and for all - and for future Governors:

"We believe that after today's hearing and after further reflection the Justices will conclude that the Governor was well within his right and his authority to exercise these furloughs as he has done."

State workers are currently taking three unpaid days off per month - a nearly 15 percent pay cut.  The Governor says furloughs will end when there's a budget agreement.  The court has 90 days to rule, but is expected to make a decision sooner… so it's not clear which will come first.
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