I'm going to be sitting for the PMP (Project Management Professional) Exam by PMI May, 1. My employer, Caltrans, has generously provided me with a cram course and I've been spending most every minute I can spare on it. However, I've had the day off (Cesar Chavez Day) and have successfully completed my scheduled work for the day (Earned Value analysis) and have a little time to catch everyone up with my understanding of Working For Arnold.
Over the last several weeks, the State has quietly backed away from the Governor's simplistic furlough concept. First of all, SEIU, entered into a new, 2 year, contract with the State whereby they would only take one furlough day a month. Also, they agreed to 'give up' two State Holidays but instead got two floating holidays. They agreed to no pay increases, some changes on how overtime was calculated (vacation and sick pay not counted toward the 40 hours/week) and a few other things. Their membership recently approved the arrangement. Then the state said that we could actually take our furlough days most anytime during the month they were incurred. After that, the State announced that Feb., 6 was the last furlough day but any one other then SEIU members still had to take 16 hours a month. We could use the days in place of sick days or vacation but would loose them if we did not take them before the end of the month. This was in response to a growing public outcry about people being unable to go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) to take driver license exams or be able to contact the State unemployment office. Finally, in yet another back off, a couple of weeks ago, the State said we could now accumulate furlough days through June of 2010 and we had to use them before June of 2012. My calculations suggest that at this rate the State will drop the whole furlough nonsense around June of this year as it is causing a major administrative nightmare. Again, we can take furlough days in lieu of sick pay or vacation so this means our sick pay and vacation balances are accumulating on the State's books as a payable account. In the meantime, my union, PECG, in it's latest newsletter, has filed a grievance over the two day a month furlough and this will end up in arbitration.
Is anyone else outside of the State of California suffering a furlough arrangement---or worse?
In other news, the State Controller was told that it was illegal for him to say no to Arnold last summer and that Arnold had the right to lower our pay to minimum wage whenever there was no budget (a chronic problem). The controller didn't just say no, he also said he couldn't as our payroll system for 238,000 people runs on legacy hardware and software. The courts didn't address that point. Most wingnuts seem to thing you can go into Staples and get a payroll system like that and run it on there desktop PC. I'm not sure they could even get it off the shelf at IBM. The courts insisted that State Workers be paid at least minimum wage as opposed to no pay as that would be slavery. What paying us minimum wage is supposed to accomplish when there is no budget is unclear. At the time last summer, the Governor claimed that he needed to conserve state money which is curiously enough the same reason he is using for the furlough policy.
California has several 'Constitutional' officers who do not legally answer to the Governor because they are independently elected by the people. They claimed that their employees also do not answer to the Governor and don't have to be furloughed. The constitutional officers said that they could easily find other ways to save money that didn't have such a terrible impact of governing. Arnold went to court and his pet judge, Marlette, said that they do answer to the governor and can be furloughed like other State employees. Among the Constitutional Officers is the Office of the Attorney General. I believe staff from there is appealing the judgment.
Our sales tax goes up 1% point tomorrow (no fooling), there is a special election for budgetary items in May sometime and Schwarzenegger has announced that he is not running for another office (for now).
Finally I have been intellectually struggling to come up with the proper word or phrase for right wing, neo-populist stuff like furlough's and the seething, wingnut, resentment of anyone who gets more holidays than they do. I've been considering 'simplistic' or 'simple minded' but they don't do the job and are an insult to those who actually cultivate simplicity. Remember these are people that believe in the magic pie theory. They believe that if your slice is made smaller (by one of their heroes) then magically, somehow, their slice of they pie might get bigger or at least they'll feel better about their slice. Any ideas folks?