Members of the state Assembly’s small Republican minority have mustered the votes to block a new contract with a state employees’ union on the grounds that it would be irresponsible to approve the deal in light of the state’s dire economic and fiscal outlook.
The Assembly in question is in Sacramento, California — where, on the issue of labor costs, state politicians are managing to look downright fiscally conservative compared to their counterparts in Albany, New York.
The union contract stalled by California Assembly Republicans* would eliminate two paid holidays and cut pay by 4.6 percent, saving $340 million a year on salaries for some 95,000 members of one of the state’s major unions. Most state workers in California are now taking two unpaid “furlough” days a month, equivalent to a 9.2 percent pay decrease. Assembly Republicans reportedly want to hold off on approving a new labor contract while awaiting the outcome of May 19 special election in which California voters will decide the fate of a “budget reform” proposition.
In New York, meanwhile, state employees unions are thumbing their noses at Governor Paterson’s request for a wage freeze that would roll back a recent 3 percent pay hike.
Maybe California’s fiscal outlook isn’t even worse than New York’s, after all.
* Republicans still hold 29 of 80 seats in the California Assembly, one more than needed to block the two-thirds vote needed to ratify labor agreements in that state. In New York, the GOP now controls 41 of 150 Assembly seats — 10 fewer than they would need to block a two-thirds vote.