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California Briefing / Sacramento

State employees union OKs pact

March 22, 2009|Associated Press

California's largest state employees union overwhelmingly approved a contract Saturday that limits some of the emergency measures imposed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to bridge the state's $42-billion budget gap.

The contract won approval from 91% of the 95,000 state employees represented by Service Employees International Union, officials said. The union's members make up about half of the state's workers.

The contract negotiated last month eliminates one of the two monthly furlough days Schwarzenegger imposed to help bridge the state's multibillion-dollar deficit.

The contract also bars mass layoffs of SEIU employees unless entire state programs or facilities are eliminated. And it presents a compromise to the governor's plan to eliminate Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday as paid state holidays. Instead, SEIU workers will be allowed to take two paid days off any time they want.

In return, the union's members accepted a 4.62% pay cut by agreeing to once-a-month floating furloughs. That's half the 9.2% cut from the twice-monthly furloughs imposed on 10 other state unions that still lack a contract.

Union Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said the contract and lopsided union vote reflect tough economic times.

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