Thousands of California state attorneys and administrative law judges will go back to a full 40-hour workweek in April after an Alameda County Superior Court judge handed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger a setback in his furlough plan Wednesday.
Patrick Whalen, general counsel for the labor union that represents attorneys employed by more than 80 state departments, agencies and boards, said Judge Frank Roesch's order affects about 2,400 of its members. The order also affects members of two other plaintiff unions, and will touch 68 of the state's special fund departments.
Roesch had originally ordered the state last month to discontinue the furloughs, but that ruling was automatically stayed when the governor appealed. Wednesday's order lifted the automatic stay so that the furloughs will stop immediately. It takes effect before the next planned furlough day, April 2.
However, Roesch declined to lift the stay on another part of his February ruling, which had awarded back pay with interest to the furloughed workers.
The affected employees have been furloughed since February 2009 for three days a month.
"It's going to stop the furloughs going forward, so everyone's going to get the 14 percent increase in pay," Whalen said. "That's huge for our members who have been struggling for more than a year."
Felix de la Torre, the attorney for plaintiff Service Employees International Union Local 1000, noted that the judge also said the furloughs have an impact on the public.
"California taxpayers will suffer irreparable harm if the appeal operates as a stay because the taxpayers will continue to lose the benefit of these employees' work for the respondent agencies while still being required by the court's judgment to pay wages for those days that the employees are improperly furloughed," Roesch wrote in his order (PDF) in Service Employees International Union Local 1000 v. Schwarzenegger, RG09456750.
"We disagree with the court's decision to stop the furloughs going forward and we will file a writ of supersedeas with the First District Court of Appeal," a spokeswoman for the governor said.