State Workers Angry Over Salary Cuts

July 30, 2008 10:01:09 PM PDT
About 200,000 state employees could see their paychecks cut to the bone as soon as Thursday. Governor Schwarzenegger is promising to go forward with his plan to temporarily cut their pay to save money.

State workers made a last ditch effort to stop Governor Schwarzenegger from taking a promised step to cut workers' salary and order layoffs of 22,000 part-time, seasonal and student employees.

Amber Carlson is a part-time DMV worker who will lose her job immediately if the order is signed.

"I am nervous. I've been nervous since last week when I first heard about it. I mean, how are you supposed to go through your day, when you don't know if you're going to have a job," said Carlson.

With California in a cash crunch, the Governor's Office says he will make good on the threat and sign the executive order within the next 24 hours because there is still no budget in place.

The pay cut to 200,000 state workers, plus the layoffs, would save the state a $1 billion a month.

"Tomorrow is the first day of the August pay period. That's the day the Governor needs to take action to start realizing some savings, so we have enough cash to pay our bills," said the Governor's press secretary Aaron McLear.

How long state workers will have to make the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour is up in the air. But the month-long budget impasse suggests it could be a while.

"If we have to be here until the state goes into bankruptcy and the Republicans are going to cause that to happen, that's fine," said Senate President Don Perata.

State Controller John Chiang has said he would defy the Governor's order and pay full wages anyway because it's his duty.

But labor law experts say a Davis vs. White California Supreme court decision in 2003 does back the Governor.

"The state workers will be paid eventually. But it obviously seems unfair to bear the brunt of this now, but he does have the legal authority to do that," said Professor Miriam Cherry, JD from McGeorge School of Law.

Despite that, the counsel for the state Legislature has advised lawmakers the Governor's on shaky ground, and many Democrats are still promising a battle over those pay cuts.

Union sources told ABC30 News they are preparing to take legal action against the Governor as early as Friday, asking the court to stop the order from taking place.


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