Judge orders state to end furloughs for thousands of state workers

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People walk out of the State of California building January 29, 2009 in San Francisco, California.

A judge in Northern California today ordered the Schwarzenegger administration to end furloughs for thousands of state workers. Under the ruling, more than 50,000 state employees could return to full time schedules — with full time pay — next month.

An Alameda County Superior Court judge tentatively ruled that California must allow some state employees to return to regular work schedules. 

Right now the state furloughs most employees on the first three Fridays of the month — without pay. For many, the unpaid day off amounts to a 15 percent pay cut.

The Schwarzenegger administration ordered the furloughs last year to save money in the state’s general fund. 

But the furloughs extended to workers in 69 departments who aren’t paid out of the general fund. 

The Service Employees International Union — California’s largest civil service union — challenged that practice and won.

The union estimates that as many as 53,000 workers in agencies including the Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Lottery and Caltrans, will return to work on Fridays starting next month.

The governor’s office is expected to appeal the ruling.

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