The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 12, 2012
Court overturns raises for SEIU Local 1000-represented medical staff

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgSacramento's 3rd District Court of Appeal today ruled for the state and against SEIU Local 1000 in a dispute over pay raises for Corrections Department medical staff.

An arbitrator and a superior court judge had ruled that the negotiated raises were valid. The appellate court said today that the raises weren't valid because the Legislature didn't sign off on them.

SEIU Local 1000 declined to comment on the ruling.

The case dates back to 2006 and agreements negotiated between then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Local 1000.

The administration and the union that year sent agreements to the Legislature giving pay raises of up to 10 percent to medical employees, including nurses, that would kick in Jan. 1, 2007. Lawmakers approved the pacts in September 2006.

The very next month, a federal court determined that the state's prison medical care system was inadequate. Among the remedies it ordered: pay increases retroactive to Sept. 1, 2006, for those same employees. The court-ordered raises exceeded the negotiated raises.

The state refused to apply the bargained raises on top of the federally-ordered pay increases, "generally taking the view that they had been superseded by the larger (federally-mandated) increases," the appellate court's summary of the case says.

Local 1000 took the matter to arbitration and then to Sacramento Superior court, winning both times with the argument that the negotiated increases had to be applied to whatever salary ranges existed on Jan. 1, 2007.

The appellate court said the Legislature was not made explicitly aware that the contractual raises would be applied on top of a federally-ordered raise and therefore lawmakers didn't approve what the union wanted. The way to get the raise, the three-justice decision said, "is to obtain passage of a bill approving the higher salaries, a remedy squarely in the political realm."
CalHR v. SEIU Local 1000

IMAGE: www.yolocourts.ca.gov

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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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