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The state’s main labor agency is in the midst of a changing of the guard in the wake of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move into Sacramento. In an internal memo distributed last week, the California Department of Industrial Relations announced a flurry of resignations and new appointments involving key posts such as the agency’s director, the chief counsel and the state labor commissioner. Meanwhile, there were reports that a former DIR director was being considered for the top labor job in the Schwarzenegger administration, the still unfilled post of secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. John Duncan, who served as DIR director under Gov. Pete Wilson, as well as special assistant to former Secretary of State Caspar Weinberger, is rumored to be a top candidate for the secretary position, according to some employment lawyers. Duncan did not return a call for comment. A spokesman for the governor’s office said the office does not comment on personnel matters. A cabinet-level position, the secretary advises the governor on all labor and employment law issues and overseas the 15,000 employees of the labor and workforce development agency. Victoria Bradshaw was appointed as undersecretary of the agency shortly after Schwarzenegger became governor. During that time she has carried out many of the duties of the secretary. Bradshaw penned the memo announcing the change in DIR personnel. Among those “departing from appointed service in the DIR” are Acting Director Chuck Cake, Acting Chief Deputy Director Suzanne Marria and Labor Commissioner Arthur Lujan. John Rea, the former chief counsel of the DIR, has been appointed acting director, and Greg Rupp is acting chief deputy labor commissioner. Vanessa Holton, a longtime DIR employee, succeeds Rea as chief counsel. Still vacant is the job of state labor commissioner, a post that plays a pivotal role in interpreting wage and hour laws. The changes in the DIR were not unexpected. It wasn’t a question of whether they were going to be replaced, it was a question of when it was going to happen, said Seyfarth Shaw partner Robert Tollen. Cake and Lujan were both Davis appointees with union backgrounds. Cake raised the ire of many businesses after issuing a pair of opinion letters that extended the reach of the state’s prevailing wage law. “There was an enormous outrage in California over this,” said Tollen. According to Rick Rice, the assistant secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency, Cake and Lujan’s departures were the result of personnel changes that accompany any new administration rather than a result of having alienated the business community. “This is a new administration; they’re going to have new people in these appointed positions,” Rice said. “Some of the Davis appointees will remain perhaps not in the same capacities but in capacities that are suitable to their background and interests.” The “acting” title of the new positions signals the interim nature of the appointees. Rice said the plan is to first appoint a secretary of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency , allowing the secretary to weigh in on the positions. Rice also noted that Michael Bernick, the director of the Employment Development Department, will be leaving on Jan. 23, to be replaced in the interim by Herb Schultz.

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