On the final day of 2009 Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch issued rulings in favor of three more public sector unions, including UAPD, which filed lawsuits against Governor Schwarzenegger’s furloughs. The rulings serve as an important first step in turning the tide against furloughs.
Earlier in 2009 UAPD filed a lawsuit that challenged furloughs as beyond the Governor’s authority and irrational with respect to agencies funded by federal funds and special funds, including licensing fees. In its original motion, UAPD listed the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), and Medical Board of California as examples of agencies where a substantial portion of funding comes from federal or special funds.
The Court found that furloughs which do not save the State money in its general fund served no legitimate governmental purpose, and held that the statutory authority to cut work hours claimed by the Governor required a consideration of each agency’s own specific needs, rather than an across-the-board order. In his ruling Judge Roesch ordered that Schwarzenegger “cease and desist the furlough of UAPD-represented employees.” The court has yet to define which UAPD-represented employees are covered by the decision, but will likely limit its decision to those doctors working for agencies substantially funded by federal or special funds.
Schwarzenegger’s representatives have expressed their intention to appeal the decision, and argue that their appeal would prevent the Court’s order to end furloughs from going into immediate effect . UAPD will vigorously resist that outcome. If the State makes good on its threat to appeal, triggering a “stay pending appeal” in the judge’s order to end furloughs, UAPD plans to file a motion to declare the judge’s order immune from stay, based on the harm being suffered by furloughed doctors and the patients they serve. To do so, UAPD must collect declarations from DSS, DPH, DHCS, and Medical Board doctors giving specific examples of harm caused by furloughs. Doctors with such examples should contact UAPD immediately.
While an important victory that serves as a foot in the door for all doctors, the Court’s decision did not deal with departments who rely primarily on the State’s general fund for money. Nor did it address with the important issue of backpay for time lost to furloughs. The UAPD legal team is actively developing legal strategies to address these issues. Two other judges have held that general fund agencies may be furloughed, and the Sacramento Court of Appeals will likely render a decision on the matter soon. A favorable decision in December, in which Judge Roesch declared illegal the self-directed furloughs of CCPOA officers working in 24/7 CDCR facilities, does not automatically extend to UAPD’s CDCR or 24/7 workers. UAPD lawyers are still considering whether there is a way to apply the logic of the decision regarding corrections officers to UAPD doctors, despite significant differences between the two groups. UAPD already has two PERB charges pending against the furloughing of doctors in all state agencies.
In summary, members can rest assured that UAPD leadership and our legal team are aggressively pursuing every legal avenue in the fight against furloughs. While we can take a moment to enjoy our first victory, the battle continues.
Read the ruling HERE.
The Schwarzenegger administration has declared its intention to file an appeal on these most recent rulings before Monday. That appeal will trigger a “stay” that prevents the State Controller’s office from writing the backpay checks that the Judge has ordered. If and when Schwarzenegger files his appeal, UAPD intends to file its own arguments that the “stay” should be lifted and that the Controller be freed to act on the Judge’s order while the appeal is being considered.
This latest ruling comes out of a lawsuit filed last year by UAPD, which challenged furloughs as beyond the Governor’s authority with respect to agencies funded by federal funds and special funds, including licensing fees. In its original motion, UAPD listed the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), and Medical Board of California as examples of agencies where a substantial portion of funding comes from federal or special funds. On the final day of 2009 Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch issued rulings in favor of UAPD, ordering the state to end furloughs for doctors in the above-mentioned agencies. Yesterday’s ruling was the first time Judge Roesch indicated that these employees are also entitled to backpay for time lost to furloughs.
This is an important legal victory, not only for those doctors named in the ruling, but for all furloughed workers, as it pokes more holes in Schwarzenegger’s already sinking policy. UAPD leadership and our legal team will continue to pursue every legal avenue to protect our members, and will keep members updated as more information becomes available.