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Judge Says CA Insurance Fund Workers Exempt from Gov's Work Furlough

Source: Workers Comp Executive Newsdesk

Posted on 02 Sep 2009

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California's 6,260 employees of the State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) are exempt from a work furlough mandated by Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar, a San Francisco judge has tentatively ruled.

The judge's decision also means that the administration must provide back pay, plus interest for the affected employees. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for today.

The ruling is great news for SCIF employees, and for SCIF president Janet Frank who was tasked by the board of directors to go to bat for her employees in the matter of the furlough.

In her ruling, Judge Charlotte Walter Woolard agrees with Judge Peter Bush's ruling in the matter of the California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers (CASE) members, only she extends it to all SCIF employees. The decision reads in pertinent part:

"Insurance Code 11873(c) exempts State Compensation Insurance Fund employees from the furlough. A 'furlough' reduces the availability of staff and constitutes a 'staff cutback.'"

The Service Employees International Union Local 1000--the union that represents SCIF employees-filed this action against the administration to get the furlough overturned. In conjunction with that suit, Frank filed a cross complaint backing her employees over the governor's furlough. The administration has remained steadfast in keeping the furlough days in place even though furloughing SCIF employees three days a month does nothing to fix the state budget.

"We were pleased about the tentative ruling, but we won't know how it'll be implemented until we get a final order," says Jennifer Vargen, spokeswoman for SCIF.

The Department of Personnel Management would not comment until a final order has been entered.

"We're happy. We want to make sure all of our workers get the back pay they're entitled to plus interest," says Jim Zamora, spokesman for SEIU. "We have SCIF employees that have lost their homes. We have SCIF employees that are facing bankruptcy."

Judge Woolard will decide today whether or not to issue a final decision.