The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 1, 2011
From the notebook: Mike Jimenez talks contract, cussing and continuing as CCPOA's president

Thumbnail image for 110520 Jimenez.JPGWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users data, notes and quotes from the notebook that informed what we published. This is the third in a series of posts spinning off "California Highway Patrol, prison officers compete for pay, respect," published on Tuesday.

Mike Jimenez, president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, sat down with The State Worker last month for a lengthy discussion that informed Tuesday's story in The Bee about CCPOA and its sometimes-contentious relationship with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen.

Over breakfast at Crepeville in Midtown Sacramento, Jimenez talked about Gov. Jerry Brown, battles with former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the union's future (including his decision to run for a third term, which we reported in this post).

Some highlights from the interview:

On the CCPOA contract signed by Gov. Jerry Brown:
I think it's a good deal for the state and for our members. They want that comfort (that comes with a contract). Is it everything financially we'd like it to be? Of course not. But we were able to belly up to the bar and accept our share (of sacrifice).

On restoring the $666 tie to the CAHP contract:
I'd like to do better. ... Given the fiscal situation of the state, I don't see it becoming reality in the immediate future. I'd like to never have to negotiate about money again. We enjoyed that for six years (via the contract negotiated with Gov. Gray Davis that formally tied CCPOA pay with CAHP pay). When it ended, that was part of what started our downward trend with Arnold. ...Once they broke that link in pay, Schwarzenegger got bolder and started demanding more from us.

On his stormy personal relationship with Schwarzenegger:
I gave them cannon fodder. I gave them a reason -- in their twisted logic -- to punish our members. If I had it to do over again, I'd do things differently. ... It's fair to say that I went over the top on a couple of things, but ultimately, he held the biggest stick.

On the famed 2006 contract bargaining session where, in the words of DPA Deputy Director Julie Chapman, Jimenez "colorfully communicated" his dissatisfaction with a "profane tirade":
Negotiations are like buying a car. There's a lot of posturing. Everybody talks about the cussing, but that's the dance that has to go on. That's what I was doing -- theater.

On the CHP and the relative dangers and qualifications of correctional officers and patrol officers:
We respect CHP as a brother law enforcement agency. I wouldn't denigrate them. But there's always going to be debate about which job is tougher, which job is more dangerous ... all of those factors that play into what a person should be paid. So the debate is always going to be there.

Danger follows both jobs, but you don't hear much when things happen to our members. We average nine assaults per day -- everything from shoves and slaps to stabbings and attempted murders. You just don't hear much about it.

On whether CHP's role as the governor's security detail played into how Schwarzenegger and his predecessors have treated CAHP:
No, I can't attribute their better treatment to that.

On what aspects of the CCPOA deal that upset members the most:
Holiday pay. (CCPOA members used to receive time-and-a-half plus another day off for working holidays. The new contract pays double time for holiday work with no compensating time off.) That really stuck in their craw. They viewed that as punishment (for the state's budget problems.) Sick leave, too. (Sick leave hours taken no longer count toward meeting the threshold for overtime.)

On Brown, who the prison officers' association considered a soft-on-crime liberal during his first go-round as governor from 1975 to 1983:
I think he's learned a lot since then. I think highly of him and I hope he thinks highly of us. He asks and listens instead of just (handing down mandates). He genuinely has an idea of where he wants the state to go. He has a vision, unlike (Schwarzenegger).

On where he wants to lead the union if delegates reelect him in August:
I'd like to move us further down the road of responsible criminal justice that's not based on fear but on reality. ... When I'm done, I'd like people to say, "He'd done his best." You know, anyone can take the helm when the sea's been calm.

PHOTO: CCPOA President Mike Jimenez at the union's West Sacramento headquarters. / José Luis Villegas, Sacramento Bee, 2010

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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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