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June 22, 2010 > Friday is final furlough for Calif. state workers

Friday is final furlough for Calif. state workers

By Cathy Bussewitz, Associated Press Writer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP), Jun 18 - State employees who were forced to take unpaid days off because of a budget crisis had what they hoped would be their final furlough day on Friday, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger indicated he might consider layoffs and more furloughs in the future.

``The longer we go without a budget, the more likely it is that the governor will be forced to look at furloughs and layoffs to achieve savings,'' said Aaron McLear, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger.

The workers have been furloughed a total of 46 days since Schwarzenegger issued the order in February 2009.

The administration said the furloughs have achieved about $1 billion in general fund savings and $2.2 billion in overall savings during the state budget crisis. The furloughs translated into a pay cut of about 14 percent for workers.

``It's been a huge hardship for many people in our bargaining unit,'' said Pam Manwiller, spokeswoman for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 5,000 workers and reached a tentative contract agreement with Schwarzenegger this week.

Initially, Schwarzenegger imposed two furlough days a month but added a third day in 2009. Those furloughs have been challenged in court.

Jacob Roper, spokesman for the state controller's office, said the lawsuits could result in the state being ordered to pay millions of dollars in back wages.

Schwarzenegger previously said he didn't plan to extend the furloughs into the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Instead, he was asking unions to support salary cuts and increase the amount employees contribute to pension benefits.

Earlier this week, four unions representing about 23,000 employees agreed to such changes. But unions representing the remaining 170,000 state workers were still in negotiations with the governor.

Service Employees International Union Local 1000, which represents about half of state workers, will return to the negotiating table June 28, spokesman Jim Zamora said.

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