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California Can’t Mandate Furloughs, Judge Rules

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - An Alameda County judge issued a tentative ruling Wednesday blocking thousands of state employees from having to take three monthly unpaid furlough days.

Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger violated state law by ordering employees from the Department of Motor Vehicles and other agencies to take the unpaid leave.

Continuing to implement the furloughs will cause "irreparable harm" to both workers and taxpayers, Roesch wrote, since the employees lose 15 percent of their income and taxpayers "will continue to lose the benefit of these employees' work ... while still being required by this court's judgment to pay wages for those days that the employees are improperly furloughed."

While Roesch found the employees, many of whom are represented by the Service Employees International Union, are entitled to back pay for furlough days already taken, he declined to order the state to compensate its employees for illegal furlough time until the ruling is appealed.

Roesch is expected to deliver a more definitive ruling Wednesday afternoon.

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