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State workers agree to 12 unpaid days of leave as part of budget reductions
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SACRAMENTO  (AP) — California’s biggest state worker union tentatively agreed to a plan where covered workers will take 12 unpaid days of leave over 12 months starting July 1.

Service Employees International Union Local 1000 informed members of the deal with Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday, the Sacramento Bee reported.

The furlough plan institutes a 5 percent monthly reduction in wages, but gives employees some flexibility to schedule the time off. It differs from Brown’s proposal, which called for a fixed 9.5-hour, four-days-per-week work calendar.

The newspaper said the deal doesn’t affect any other aspect of Local 1000’s current contract, including a scheduled 3 percent raise for top-tier employees effective July 1, 2013, the day after the latest round of furloughs will end.

Local 1000 represents 93,000 employees.

“The administration’s goal was a 5 percent pay reduction for all state employees... and that goal is being met,” Brown spokesman Gil Duran wrote in an email to The Bee. Duran didn’t address questions about the governor’s four-day workweek plan or why the administration changed its furlough position, the newspaper said.

When he was a candidate two years ago, Brown criticized a similar furlough program imposed by former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature.

Brown’s finance director, Ana Matosantos, said unlike Schwarzenegger’s furloughs, the shortened workweek wouldn’t prompt employees to bank more of their paid leave, which creates a deferred cost when those hours are cashed out.

A union statement posted on its website said that since the pay cut was already figured into the budget, the only question was how it would be accomplished. Negotiators ultimately decided that a furlough instead of layoffs was the best option.

“Bargaining gives us an opportunity to mitigate the harm of the pay cuts to our members instead of having pay cuts imposed on us,” the Local 1000 statement said.

Local 1000’s voting members will consider the proposal this week for an expedited ratification vote. The union plans to set up about 100 polling places at locations it will announce Monday, with voting scheduled for Wednesday and the results to be announced July 2, according to The Bee.