Labor union seeks to block pay cut order

The largest state employees' union in California filed a lawsuit today in Sacramento Superior Court attempting to reverse Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's executive order terminating thousands of temporary employees.

The Service Employees International Union, which represents 94,000 state workers, filed a separate motion with the Public Employment Relations Board to block the governor's order to reduce pay for 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 per hour.

The layoff-related suit could be heard in Superior Court as soon as next week, said SEIU Chief Counsel Paul Harris. The union argues the governor violated the separation-of-powers doctrine by bypassing the state Personnel Board's procedures for laying off employees. It also believes the governor has violated the merit principle, which requires the state to consider seniority and offer employment in other vacant positions.

"He's attempting to do with a three-page order what has set procedures in the law," Harris said. "He's doing it because it's the politically expedient thing to do. He's using state workers as pawns in this game to try to leverage a budget deal."

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