State to Cut Managers’ Pay by 5% : Budget: Gov. Wilson plans to make the reductions effective Sunday. The state controller and representatives of the 24,000 workers plan to fight the move.
Payday for state workers came and went Thursday with all non-management employees receiving full paychecks--but that situation may not last long because the Wilson Administration vowed to force 5% pay cuts on 24,000 supervisors beginning Sunday.
“The cuts will be reflected in the Sept. 30 paychecks. We cut management pay in July. This is the next step, cutting the pay of supervisors,” said Lillian Rowett, chief deputy director of the Department of Personnel Administration.
Gov. Pete Wilson eventually wants to cut 5% from the pay of all 165,000 people on the state payroll and is pressing for layoffs, a reduction in health benefits and higher co-payments for perks such as parking.
The immediate target are the state’s 24,000 supervisors, who include blue-collar and office employees, usually just a step or two above the rank and file. They include Highway Patrol sergeants, supervisors of cooking crews in state prisons and janitors who supervise work crews.
Rowett announced the move in a private memo to department directors late last week. But some of the supervisors were just learning of it Thursday.
Employee groups said they plan legal action to fight the pay cut.
State Controller Gray Davis, throwing his weight behind the state employees, said Thursday that he will ask Wilson to present him with legal justification for the action.
Davis, who in July blocked an effort by the governor to force state employees to pay more for health insurance, said in an interview that Wilson may have sidestepped some legal requirements, such as conducting salary surveys of comparable jobs outside state government.
“We are a state of laws. I am not going to allow the chief executive to run roughshod over state employees,” Davis said.
Bill Livingstone, a spokesman for Wilson, said the salary cuts are needed to avert another budget crisis such as the one that required the governor and Legislature to pass a $7-billion annual tax increase last month.
“It’s unfortunate, but the longer we delay the cuts, the more likely it will be that we will have to lay off large numbers of state employees,” he said.
Negotiators for Wilson were playing hardball with state employees on another front Thursday, refusing to say whether they will withdraw an earlier offer if unions miss today’s deadline for accepting the Administration’s wage and salary demands.
Administration officials had said they would scale down demands for such things as mandatory furloughs--but only if rank-and-file employees agreed by today to contracts providing for the unprecedented 5% pay cut.
“We are not going to meet that deadline. No way,” said Pat McConahay, a spokesman for the California State Employees’ Assn., which represents 78,000 rank-and-file workers in bargaining talks.
One of the carrots the Administration dangled in front of the CSEA was a promise to restore a provision in the last contract that required the automatic deduction of so-called “fair-share fees” from the paychecks of non-CSEA members. The fees were taken in lieu of union dues from state employees who benefited from wage and benefit agreements negotiated by the union.
McConahay said the union would lose $280,000 a month, but declared that CSEA found the alternative--a 5% pay cut for all its members--much worse.
“We believe that Gov. Wilson’s agenda is to bust public employee unions. This is just one more indication that the governor tries to bargain by threat,” she said.
Rowett refused to say what effect missing the deadline will have. “We are not going to negotiate through the newspapers,” she said.
As for the supervisory personnel, several longtime state employees said morale may have hit an all-time low.
Dave Parker, a marine biologist working for the Department of Fish and Game in Long Beach, said during a telephone interview that he had received a promotion just last month, but that the 5% cut will put him below what he was earning before. “It’s a big disappointment to be treated this way,” said Parker, who has worked for the state 19 years.
In Sacramento, Dr. Dennis Mayhew, a senior scientist with the Department of Food and Agriculture who supervises the state’s plant pathology unit, said he just learned of the cut. With jobs in his unit requiring doctorate degrees in science and with pay topping out in the “low $50,000s,” Mayhew said the state is already having trouble keeping scientist positions filled and is unable to compete with salaries paid elsewhere. “Morale is low,” he said.