State Calls for Changes in Work Schedules for Members of Some Boards, Including Two Health-Related Bodies
The Labor and Workforce Development Agency last week sent letters to 19 members of four state boards -- including the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board and the Occupational Safety and Health Appeals Board -- directing them to work in the boards' offices from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. rather than offsite, the Los Angeles Times reports. The board members, each of whom collects an annual salary of more than $100,000, are political appointees. The letter asked board members to "devote their undivided energies and attention to the obligations of the board."
According to the Times, the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) "believes many of the appointees are failing to do their jobs effectively," but some Democratic appointees "feel besieged" and believe Schwarzenegger is "attempting to oust them and make his own appointments."
LWDA Secretary Victoria Bradshaw said, "Working full-time includes reporting to work for the entire workday."
However, Cynthia Thornton -- chair of the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, who also received a letter from the state -- said, "If we are going to have a clock-punching mentality, then I think we are asking for a different type of board." She added, "What I expect is cutting-edge thinking. I don't care how they do it; what I want to see is results."
Rick Rice, assistant secretary for LWDA, said that the Cal-OSHA Appeals board has a backlog of 7,000 cases, the Times reports. "When you have a caseload that is two years behind, it seems to me it would be necessary for the highest-level management to show up in the office and supervise its execution," Rice said.
Rice added that WCAB has a backlog of about 8,000 cases.
In a letter to Bradshaw, WCAB member Janice Jamison Murray said she begins her workday at 7 a.m. and communicates with the board's San Francisco headquarters via phone, fax and e-mail throughout the day. She stated that she was "neither absent nor part-time," adding, "I process the same caseload as all other members in a timely and diligent manner."
According to the Times, it is "unclear" what might happen if board members do not comply with the order. Although Schwarzenegger could "attempt to fire" the board members, such a move likely would result in litigation, the Times reports.
In related news, Reedley farmer Dan Gerwan on Wednesday filed a lawsuit in Sacramento Superior Court against Daniel Zingale, a member of the Agriculture Labor Relations Board, alleging that consulting work Zingale did for the campaign opposing Proposition 67 violated a state law that prohibits board members from engaging in "any other business, vocation or employment," the Times reports (Salladay, Los Angeles Times, 11/11). Proposition 67 would have imposed a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund emergency departments, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment (California Healthline, 11/3). Zingale was paid about $50,000 for his work against Proposition 67, the Times reports.
Zingale, a former director of the Department of Managed Health Care and cabinet secretary to former Gov. Gray Davis (D), said a 1999 opinion by the Legislature's chief attorney indicated that the kind of political work Zingale did for the campaign against Proposition 67 did not conflict with ALRB's mission.
However, Gerawan said a separate attorney general's opinion affirms the constitutionality of banning state board members from holding outside jobs, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 11/11).