In an effort to address a projected $584 million budget deficit for 2009-10, the California State University Employee Union (CSUEU), which represents more than 16,000 non-academic employees, has voted to enter talks with CSU on the concept of two days per month furloughs. This option is under consideration rather than the contractually mandated non-retention and layoff language contained in CSUEU's labor agreement with the CSU. In addition, the Academic Professionals of California, which represents approximately 2,400 student services employees, has also voted to begin the same process.
Combined with changes initiated this month to Title 5 that would allow the CSU flexibility to furlough management employees, a total of approximately 21,000 of CSU's overall workforce of 47,000 employees, as a way to address the budget deficit.
The CSU has been meeting with the system's labor unions that represent the vast majority of its workforce to discuss the furlough option and expects to finalize the details of an action plan in the near future. Approximately 80 percent of the CSU's budget goes toward employee salary and benefits, and the CSU is proposing to furlough all of its employees (with the exception of public safety personnel) in all classifications, including management and executives, to help close the anticipated budget deficit.
Although the state budget has not been finalized, the Governor's budget proposal would mean a $584 million cut to the CSU's general fund support for 2009-10. This represents a 13 percent reduction from 2007-08 in state support of the CSU. The furloughs, if accepted by employees, would save approximately $275 million. Other cost-saving options are under discussion to address the remaining budget deficit. CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed has indicated that the guiding principles of any action plan would be to “serve as many students as possible without sacrificing quality, and to preserve as many jobs as possible.”
The CSU has also initiated changes to Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations for management and executive personnel. The modifications would allow the system to alter provisions related to furlough, salary reductions and unpaid holidays. This change was put into place in order to meet a 45-day requirement should any action be needed at the July 21 CSU Board of Trustees meeting. The Title 5 revision can be found here.
A furlough is a mandated period of time off without pay. Furloughs differ from salary reductions and pay cuts in that they are temporary and do not affect employment status, or health benefit eligibility or pay rate for retirement benefits. Also, employees are not required to work on furlough days.