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Governor issues furloughs for last 2 labor groups impacting 11,000 state workers

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POSTED July 11, 2012 7:48 p.m.

SACRAMENTO . (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown issued a furlough order Wednesday for more than 11,000 California workers whose unions have yet to reach a deal for a 5 percent wage cut.

Brown's order forces employees to take one day of unpaid leave a month, which amounts to a pay cut of about 5 percent.

Bruce Blanning, executive director of the Professional Engineers in California Government, said Wednesday that he still hopes to reach a compromise with Brown. His group wants the state to eliminate private contracts for work he says can be done cheaper by state engineers.

"We said we can take a pay cut, just don't outsource our work at twice the cost," Blanning said.

California lawmakers passed a budget last month authorizing the Democratic governor to furlough state workers to help save an estimated $402 million for the year.

Unlike former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's furlough order, which created employee uproar, most unions — 19 of the state's 21 labor groups — quickly reached agreements with Brown before the new fiscal year started July 1.

Only the two unions representing 11,600 state engineers and heavy machinery operators continue to hold out.

"Employees must take one day off within each pay period," according to the order from the California Department of Human Resources dated July 5.

Most of the engineers work at Caltrans, the state transportation agency responsible for building and maintaining highways, bridges and railways.

Brown used his veto authority to eliminate a union-backed budget provision that would have required nearly all transportation funding be spent on state staff.

The governor wrote that "Caltrans needs the flexibility to choose a staffing mix that allows it to complete the workload without resulting in unnecessary costs associated with hiring additional state staff and incur training expenses for short-term workload."


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