Monday, July 5, 2010

Calif. state workers brace for minimum wage

On Friday, the Schwarzenegger administration won an appellate court ruling saying it has the authority to impose the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour on more than 200,000 state workers as California wrestles with its latest budget crisis. It was not immediately clear if the state controller, who cuts state paychecks on a decades-old payroll system, will comply. The office says its computers are unable to make the change until an upgrade is completed in two years.

The effect, however, was chilling for state government workers, many of whom say they have to prepare as if the pay cut will happen.

The loss of wages - even temporarily - for such a large work force would deal an especially harsh blow to the capital region, where one out of 10 workers is a state government employee. According to the state Employment Development Department, there were 84,600 state workers out of 819,100 people employed in the Sacramento region in May. The number is higher when counting colleges and universities.

A cut to a minimum wage would mean state workers would make the equivalent of $15,000 a year. The average state worker makes $65,000 annually, according to the state Department of Personnel Administration.

Schwarzenegger's minimum wage order will not affect all of California's 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 because they agreed to pay cuts and pension reforms.

Salaried managers who are not paid on an hourly basis would see their pay cut to $455 a week. FULL STORY

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