In the real world, if an employee fails to show up for work for four days and does not call the boss, chances are the employee would be fired. However, if liberal politicians who control the State Legislature get their way, state workers who decide to skip work will likely keep their jobs with a bill that is sitting on the Governor’s desk.
Sound ridiculous? It is. This is what happens when union special interests exert their influence inside the State Capitol.
Recently, the Legislature sent Assembly Bill 855 to Governor Brown, a bill that would allow state employees to go AWOL (absent without leave) for almost a week with no consequences. The state would be unable to discipline or fire the employee for not showing up to work. The bill’s supporters claim it will strengthen due process for employees and prevent unfair terminations. One supporter brought up the scenario of an employee losing consciousness for several days after an accident and being unable to communicate with his or her boss about their status. This bill would presumably protect that employee from losing their job. Apparently the bill’s supporters have never heard of common sense. Existing law already provides state employees many protections from unfair termination. Workers who feel they have been fired illegally can sue for reinstatement. If someone loses consciousness due to an accident, would not the family and employer inquire about what happened and act accordingly? By the way, employees can use the AWOL statute several times a year! Once again, common sense should rule the day.
In my view, AB 855 is an over-the-top benefit for state employees. I voted against this bill because it is unnecessary and does not reflect what happens in the private sector. While many state benefits may be appropriate, some go above and beyond what would be considered reasonable. This could encourage workers to go AWOL more frequently since they will be given a four-day “safe harbor” for unexcused absences. When these perks become excessive, then it is unfair to California’s taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill. Furthermore, the bill circumvents collective bargaining, which is supposed to be a give-and-take process. Both sides at the bargaining table balance their desire to receive something against their interest in not giving something away. If the issue of AWOL workers is important to unions, they should bring it up at the bargaining table.
Unfortunately, unions are trying to carve out a special set of circumstances for state workers that circumvent collective bargaining. There is no reason why state employees, especially those who belong to a union, should be treated any differently than the rest of us.
The Legislature should instead focus on the creation of private sector jobs and not the rewarding of unscrupulous behavior in the public sector. Yet during the last two weeks of the 2013 legislative session, the majority party passed hundreds of bills that added more regulations that have little to do with job creation.
State government exists to serve the people, not the other way around. Until the majority party gets its priorities straight, we will sadly be seeing more crazy bills like AB 855 in the years to come. Let’s see what the Governor decides to do.