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Minimum wage for state workers

Sat., July 3, 2010

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Roughly 200,000 California state workers will receive minimum-wage paychecks in July under terms of an order issued Thursday by the Schwarzenegger administration.

According to a letter delivered to Controller John Chiang, July pay for most hourly state employees will be withheld to the minimum allowed by federal law – $7.25 an hour – and then restored once there’s a budget.

Chiang, whose office cuts state paychecks, said Thursday that he won’t follow the order unless a court tells him to. A state appellate court on Friday sided with the Schwarzenegger administration. Soon after the ruling, however, Chiang said he would appeal to the state Supreme Court before complying with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s order.

Schwarzenegger’s minimum-wage order would not affect all of California’s 250,000 government employees. The 37,000 state workers represented by unions that recently negotiated new contracts with the administration will continue to receive their full pay. The contracts contain pay cuts and pension reforms.

Salaried managers who are not paid on an hourly basis would see their pay cut to $455 a week. Doctors and lawyers who work for the state will not be paid at all until a budget is signed because minimum wage laws do not apply to those professions.

The letter from the governor’s Department of Personnel Administration instructs Chiang to withhold employees’ pay because the state started the 2010-11 fiscal year Thursday without a budget appropriating money for payroll.

The administration insists the order is a matter of law and not politics, but it puts more pressure on the remaining six unions that haven’t agreed to the pension and pay concessions Schwarzenegger wants in exchange for an exclusion from minimum wage.


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