Labor Union Clashes With State Over Columbus Day

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, October 12, 2009
As far as the state’s concerned – the matter is cut-and-dry.
“Columbus Day is no longer a state holiday.”
Lynelle Jolley is with the state Department of Personnel Administration. She says Columbus Day was eliminated as a paid holiday when the Legislature reached a budget agreement in February. But ask labor unions, and you’ll get a totally different answer.
“Traditionally state workers do have Columbus Day off and the tradition hasn’t changed.”
Yvonne Walker is president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1000 which represents 95,000 state workers. She acknowledges that the Legislature took the Columbus Day holiday away to save the state money...
“…but because it wasn’t ratified our old contract stays in effect and we have Columbus Day off.”
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says state workers are understandably upset given that they’ve had to take on three furlough days a month. Steinberg says he won’t be mad if they don’t show up to work.
“That’s their decision but I certainly have sympathy with their underlying frustration.”
But state Personnel Administration spokeswoman Jolley says the only way state workers can take the day off is if they requested vacation time.
“If they stay home on Columbus Day without getting prior approval that will be treated as an AWOL absence and they’ll be subject to loss of pay and possible disciplinary action.”
Jolley says she expects the vast majority of state employees to report to work today. Meantime, union officials say the fight won’t end after today. They plan to take the start to court over the matter.