09/09/2008

Prison guards threaten recall

By Don Thompson
The Associated Press


With television cameras over his shoulder, Mike Jimenez, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, looks over a petition to recall Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the CCPOA headquarters in West Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The union representing California's prison guards said Monday it was starting a recall attempt against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took office after the previous governor was recalled in 2003.

Mike Jimenez, president of the 30,000-member California Correctional Peace Officers Association, said Schwarzenegger has been a failure since replacing recalled Gov. Gray Davis.

He said the union was seeking a recall vote because its members have gone two years without a new labor contract and because Schwarzenegger didn't exempt its members from an executive order intended to reduce pay for tens of thousands of state employees to deal with the state's budget crisis. Many guards increase their salaries significantly with overtime.

This year's record-long budget impasse, with lawmakers at odds over how to close a $15.2 billion deficit, only adds to the union's disillusion over Schwarzenegger, Jimenez said.

"This governor, he stands for nothing," Jimenez told The Associated Press shortly before the start of a union news conference. "He's a dismal failure in every sense of the word. This failure on this budget puts him over the top."

Jimenez said the union would file a notice of intent to recall the governor Tuesday. It would need more than 1 million signatures to put a recall question on the ballot - a relatively small hurdle for one of the state's most well-funded and influential unions.

If the issue makes a special election ballot, a simple majority vote is needed for the recall to succeed.

Schwarzenegger's executive order to reduce pay for some 175,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour has not taken effect because the state controller has refused to comply.

The governor said the recall attempt is just a tactic to increase wages for the union beyond what the state can afford. He vowed to not capitulate.

"Their intimidation tactics will not make me change my mind whatsoever because I happen to not represent the CCPOA. I represent the people of California," Schwarzenegger said.


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