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California furloughs illegal, judge says

Dec. 17, 2009 at 11:02 PM   |   Comments

SACRAMENTO, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- Some mandatory furloughs at reduced pay for California corrections officers ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger are illegal, a court ruled Thursday.

Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ruled the practice of self-directed furloughs, in which workers have a say in which days they will use as furlough days, is illegal and said about 40,000 prison officers are due full pay, The Sacramento Bee reported.

The ruling comes one month after the California Correctional Peace Officers Association argued Schwarzenegger's policy of self-directed furloughs amounted to an illegal pay cut and violated state labor laws, the Bee said. Under the judge's order, the state must "pay all employees represented by (the union) in this action of all hours worked."

"We're gratified by the affirmation of the court that the governor was violating wage and hour laws," Lance Corcoran, spokesman for the association, told the Los Angeles Times. "In essence, you can't expect people to work for free."

Rachel Arrezola, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger, said the governor would appeal the ruling.

"The Governor does not believe that state workers should be shielded from the same economic realities that every California family and business is facing," Arrezola said in a statement. "We are confident we will prevail on appeal."

Schwarzenegger initiated furloughs for almost all state workers this year in an effort to combat the state's mounting deficit.

The governor's office said Thursday self-directed furloughs are intended to allow the corrections department to plan and schedule furlough days while enabling prisons to operate "as normally as possible."

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