California to resume furloughs for state employees

08:38, August 20, 2010      

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The U.S. state of California is set to resume furloughs for roughly 150,000 state employees, it was reported on Thursday.

The move, which will begin on Friday, comes as a result of a ruling by the state Supreme Court on Wednesday, which overturned a lower court decision that temporarily blocked unpaid days off because of the state's budget impasse, the Los Angeles Times said.

Most of California's bureaucracy, including the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Fish and Game and the Department of Public Health, will be closed for business on Fridays of this week and next week.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has ordered workers to take three such days per month to conserve cash amid the state's budget impasse.

Schwarzenegger has ordered workers not only to take furloughs on the next two Fridays but also to take a floating unpaid day by the end of August. The unpaid days roughly equal a 14-percent pay cut.

Now 50 days into the fiscal year, lawmakers have been unable to reach a budget agreement. State Controller John Chiang said on Wednesday that without a budget, he will have to issue IOUs in the "next two to four weeks" to keep the state solvent.

Several unions had sued to block the renewal of worker furloughs after their members had been forced to take unpaid days off from February 2009 to June 2010.

The high court said on Wednesday that all furlough litigation -- including the lower court's restraining order -- was to be put on hold until it rules on the larger issue of whether Schwarzenegger has the power to order the time off.

Six labor bargaining units have been exempted from the governor 's order after striking tentative contracts with him that include pension cutbacks.

People working in law enforcement and tax-collection agencies, and those paid through specially earmarked funds, also are exempt, according to the paper.

Source: Xinhua


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