Democratic leaders have said all along they want state employee unions to negotiate contract changes rather than have the Legislature impose cuts.
But in order to make their new budget balance, Democrats are counting on $822 million in savings that depend upon 15 bargaining units negotiating the same type of tentative agreements that six other units have reached with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration. The savings is located on page 9 of Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez's budget outline.
If that were to occur, the remaining 15 bargaining units would agree to increase employee contributions to pensions and take one unpaid leave day each month.
Democrats say they still want labor unions to reach their own agreements and acknowledge that the $822 million savings figure could be smaller if individual bargaining units reach deals that have lesser concessions. Nonetheless, it's clear that Democrats are counting on some level of savings from state worker compensation to help bridge the $19 billion deficit.