The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 31, 2009
Blog back: technology, a 'translation' and total compensation

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

Mar. 24 EDD technology faces Senate scrutiny as unemployment rises

IT issues are a popular topic with State Worker blog users. This post by colleague Andrew McIntosh elicited some of the week's most amusing remarks:

To sum it all up, I would rather play Russian Roulette with Phil Spector than work at EDD.
Gee...we are still using IE6...only got Windows XP or Vista because it came with the computers that were bought...don't even get me started on Lotus Notes...we still have to use a dial up modem for paging...and yes still using pagers when there are vastly more efficient methods to communicate...it's all about money...between contract delays..."we've always done it this way" mindset...lack of understanding of new technologies...paranoia that employees will use computers for "unofficial business"...all of which can be easily addressed...it is bureaucracy at it's "finest"...

Mar. 25 Another 'water event' at BOE building = paid 'furloughs' for 250 state workers

TRANSLATION: ask DGS to work on the water pipes in your building for a possible extra week or more of paid vacation.

Mar. 25 See the SEIU Local 1000 contract vote counts

So when does the Legislator (sic) do their part?

The SEIU contract bill is scheduled for an Assembly committee hearing on Wednesday, as we noted in this blog post.

Since I have seen so many posts about missing ballots, no votes that weren't reflected in the votes, I wonder who validates the election results? I assume some objective third party validates the votes? or does this have to be requested?

Mar. 25 Assembly bill would cap state worker pay at $150,000 (but not for everyone)

The next two entries displayed invaluable user comment skills. The first, brevity and precision:

stunt.

The second, the apt analogy:

(Y)et another ridiculous idea from someone who obviously cares more about posturing than actually addressing our budgetary and human capital challenges. A law saying State workers earning $150,000 or more can't get a raise is like a law saying you can't serve hamburgers in a vegetarian restaurant.

Mar. 26 Public pensions should go from 'gain sharing' to 'pain sharing'

Jon---DPA has a salary & benefits/total compensation comparison study of most common state worker classifications to their comparable other public (city, county) where State (including pension benefits) received considerably less than their local public sector counterparts (& private sector when there is a comparable private job)--thus the reductions at the local level might bring them DOWN closer to what State worker compensation is--reducing State benefits would just perpetuate and worsen the disparity. Has the Bee ever published that study?

We've referenced several DPA compensation surveys in this blog. For a sample of those entries, click here. And this Oct. 2 State Worker column referenced the 2008 survey and an accompanying Column Extra blog post linked to it.

But be careful when looking at these comparisons.

The methodology of a survey can leave the conclusions suspect. For example, this 2006 survey takes a stab at comparing compensation of state workers with those in the public and private sectors. But the footnotes on the bottom of the survey's methodology section, contain this caveat:

The survey comparisons do not reflect private employers' contributions to defined contribution retirement plans, nor public employer contributions to defined benefit retirement plans. The element that is included in the public sector comparisons is the portion of the employee's contribution that gets paid by the employer. DPA's future surveys will include the employer's retirement contribution, as it reflects an employer cost of employee compensation.

The 2008 survey focuses on government compensation comparisons, as the reader noted. Still, there's a school of public policy thinking that says comparing salaries is of limited value. State work force policy expert Jason Dickerson of the Legislative Analyst's Office expressed that point of view in the October column: "If the state can pay less than other government employers and still get enough good people to get the job done, it should. If it needs to pay more, it should pay more."

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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