The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

June 28, 2013
What California state workers earn: Firefighters


Like California Highway Patrol officers, the state's firefighters avoided furloughs during Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration.

When Gov. Jerry Brown insisted that all unions accept furloughs of one day per month last summer, the firefighters' union went along -- and it got a four-year contract extension out of the deal.

Here's what California Department of Forestry Firefighters' members earned over the last two years:

June 28, 2013
What California state workers earn: Law enforcement

RB_Memorial_3.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

The California Statewide Law Enforcement Association stubbed its toe during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign when it endorsed Republican Meg Whitman and became the subject of an embarassing voice mail recording from candidate Jerry Brown's camp.

Observers, this blog included, thought that CSLEA would be the last union to reach a contract in 2010 because of the infamous "whore" incident, but that distinction went to the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

Still, the fallout from the campaign incident continued long after the election. And the special agents, wardens and park rangers it covers are on a never-ending quest to split away from CSLEA, convinced that their pay is being held back by the union's representation of non-sworn employees in the union, such as dairy inspectors.

June 27, 2013
What California state workers earn: Prison and parole officers

DS_PRISON_OFFICER.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

Perhaps no union worked harder to curry Gov. Jerry Brown's favor in 2010 than the California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

The union put in $1.8 million into an independent campaign to return Brown to office, invited him to CCPOA's annual convention in Las Vegas (the Democratic governor accepted) and didn't declare war on Brown's plan to shrink the state prison system and shift parole duties to local governments.

CCPOA reached agreement on a contract with Brown in 2010 after years of working under terms imposed by Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. That pact, like most of the others covering state employees, expires at the beginning of July.

A look at what CCPOA members earned in calendar 2011 and 2012:

June 27, 2013
What California state workers earn: Highway Patrol officers

RB_Cellphone_0001.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

In a move underscoring its emphasis on long-term security, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen accepted furloughs last year in exchange for a five-year extension of the contract that would have expired next month.

Although the officers' union contract isn't up for negotiation until 2018, we thought it only fair to run the numbers on what they earn:

June 26, 2013
What California state workers earn: State lawyers

LS_ALBERTA_LEE_UC_Davis_Law_Library.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

California's state attorneys are paid far less than their counterparts in local governments and the private sector. The union, one of the smallest bargaining units in the state, for years has argued for pay parity with little success.

In the last few years the union has taken a different tack by aggressively fighting contracts that outsource legal work it says should go to its members.

Here are pay numbers for California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment , Bargaining Unit 2:

June 25, 2013
Assembly approves state worker pay raise

ha_SEIU44713_SEIU_1000.JPGThe Assembly voted Tuesday to ratify a two-year contract for the California's largest state workers' union, voting 63-8 to approve the pact, which includes a pay raise of 4.5 percent by 2015.

Assembly Bill 1377, by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, would give SEIU Local 1000 employees a 4.5% pay raise either in two parts split between 2014 and 2015 or all at once in 2015.

The contract, negotiated with Gov. Jerry Brown, still requires ratification in the Senate and by rank-and-file workers.

June 25, 2013
LAO report warns of salary compaction with latest SEIU contract

ha_LAO367_Mac_Taylor.JPGIn its report on the new SEIU Local 1000 contract, the Legislative Analyst's Office warns that the proposed salary increases for rank-and-file employees could outpace salary increases for managerial and supervisor positions, leading to salary compaction.

While rank-and-file union members must negotiate their pay raises, managerial and supervisor positions are often determined by the administration. In the current contract, only rank-and-file members will receive the 4.5 percent pay increase.

According to the LAO, salary compaction occurs when "the differential between management and rank-and-file pay is too small to create an incentive for employees to accept the additional responsibilities of being a manager."

But just how widespread this problem is remains uncertain, according to Nick Schroeder, a fiscal and policy analyst for the LAO, because without an automated payroll system his office lacks the real-time data to make that determination.

June 24, 2013
Hearing on SEIU contract bill delayed

The Senate Committee on Public Employment and Retirement today postponed its hearing AB 1377, the measure to ratify the newly negotiated SEIU Local 1000 contract.

June 24, 2013
Senators to discuss new SEIU Local 1000 contract

130408-beall-2013-senate-chamber-amezcua.JPGThe Senate Committee on Public Employment and Retirement is holding a hearing today to discuss the newly negotiated SEIU Local 1000 contract.

The hearing, which will take place at 2 p.m. in Room 2040 of the Capitol, comes after both the Legislative Analyst's Office and the Senate committee released their reports on the contract.

The LAO's analysis notes that the Department of Finance will determine next May whether the state's finances are stable enough to trigger the first part of the raise on July 1, 2014. The LAO says the state would save $135 million if the raises are put off until 2015.

The Senate committee analysis notes the average state worker has seen his or her salary reduced by $21,000 since furloughs began in 2008.

The new contract also includes an increase in the reimbursement amount for state employee travel expenses. The new per diem meal rate will increase from $34 to $40 and the new lodging rate, which varies by county, will go from a range of $84 to $140 to $90 to $150 a day. The reimbursement rate for lodging in Sacramento, Napa, and Riverside counties will be $95 a day.

The audio for today's hearing is available here.

PHOTO: Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose, chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Employment and Retirement, in Senate chambers on March 11, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/ Hector Amezcua

June 24, 2013
What California state workers earn: SEIU Local 1000, part 2

San_Quentin_State_Prison_Nurse.jpgBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

With talks and ratification votes for new state employee contracts on the agenda over the next few weeks, The State Worker is looking at what unionized workers earned over the last two years by bargaining unit.

The numbers feeding the series come from the state controller's payroll database. The figures include only regular pay issued to full-time employees represented by the 21 bargaining units that negotiate contracts with the state. University of California and California State University employee earnings are not included in these figures. The data cover the calendar years 2011 and 2012.

SEIU Local 1000, bargaining units 15, 17, 20 and 21. (Click here for info about Local 1000 units 1, 3, 4, 11 and 14.)

Now, SEIU Local 1000, bargaining units 15, 17, 20, and 21.

June 21, 2013
What California state workers earn: SEIU Local 1000, part 1


With talks and ratification votes for new state employee contracts on the agenda over the next few weeks, The State Worker is taking a first-ever look at what unionized workers earned over the last two years by bargaining unit.

The numbers feeding the series come from the state controller's payroll database. The figures include only regular pay issued to full-time employees represented by the 21 bargaining units that negotiate contracts with the state. University of California and California State University employee earnings are not included in these figures. The data cover the calendar years of 2011 and 2012.

First up: SEIU Local 1000, bargaining units 1, 3, 4, 11 and 14.

June 20, 2013
Column Extra: The cost of California state workers' step raises

The State Worker column in today's Bee references several numbers about employee compensation costs as it lays out arguments against the 4.5 percent raise in the new SEIU Local 1000 deal.

One articulated by Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff is that state workers' automatic raises have continued all along, even during California's darkest budgetary years. The interactive chart above depicts those costs.

Remember, the numbers reflect only the incremental expenses for each budget cycle, so the data doesn't roll the costs forward from one year to the next. The controller's office crunched the numbers for the Republicans in April 2011, so the data for that year doesn't cover all 12 months of the budget cycle. That's why we didn't refer to it in today's column.

The numbers also cover step raises for all employees and the cost to both general funds and special funds.

Republicans also reviewed several years of budget info and concluded that payroll costs grew a cumulative $9.9 billion from 2006-07 through 2011-12.Here's a breakdown of their analysis.

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, most of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes, the documents and the observations that inform what's published.

June 19, 2013
CalPERS approves lower pension rates for state, schools

130620-Piggy-BANK.JPGCalPERS' board has signed off on a plan to lower pension payments for California's state government and school districts by a combined $102.8 million for the coming fiscal year.

The state contributions will drop by $71.3 million, although a new public pension law requires $63.3 million of the savings go toward paying down its unfunded liabilities. That leaves the state with a net savings of about $8 million.

Schools will save $31.5 million on retirement benefits for classified employees.

Overall, the state will pay $3.9 billion for pensions in 2013-14. Schools will pay $1.2 billion.

CalPERS actuaries recommended lowering the contribution rates earlier this month, anticipating slower-than-expected salary and payroll growth and higher out-of-pocket contributions from employees under the pension law that took effect Jan. 1.

PHOTO: Piggy bank with clock. The Sacramento Bee file/Big Stock Photo

June 19, 2013
California Legislature approves money for state jobs website

130620-jobs-header.JPGDespite a slight procedural speed bump, lawmakers signed off on giving $821,000 to the Department of Human Resources to upgrade the state's jobs website.

Funding for the Examination and Certification Online System overhaul was included in Assembly Bill 110, the main budget bill, with the provision that the department make quarterly progress reports to the Legislature.

The department plans to absorb most of the $10 million project's cost by using in-house tech staff who will finish the work by mid-2017. Some lawmakers expressed skepticism at a May budget subcommittee hearing and voted against funding the program because it would come in at twice the cost and two years later than its original $4.7 million estimate with completion by August 2015.

The State Worker: Small project a big test for California's government tech skills

IMAGE: California Department of Human Resources/June 20, 2013

June 18, 2013
CalPERS committee unveils health premium rates for 2014

CALPERS_COURTYARD_JAY_MATHER_2005.JPGA CalPERS committee today recommended 2014 health insurance rates that collectively increase premiums by 3.03 percent, the lowest benefit increase since 1998.

The Pension and Health Benefits Committee's recommendations include an average increase of nearly 6 percent for some plans while lowering prices for some Medicare coverages by almost 9 percent.

Premiums for the fund's Basic HMO coverage will increase by a combined average 3.81 percent next year while Medicare HMO plans will see a 5.76 percent hike.

The cost of CalPERS' Basic preferred provider organization plans will increase by an average 2.51 percent next year. Medicare PPOrates will fall an average 8.7 percent.

Premiums for health plans covering Highway Patrol officers, correctional officers and other law enforcement personnel are set to increase by an average 5.98 percent for the basic plans and 2.22 percent for Medicare coverages.

The fund's full Board of Administration will vote on the 2014 premium schedules on Wednesday. If approved, the new rates take effect Jan. 1, 2014

The system spends $7 billion annually on health care and its 2013 premiums rose an average of 9.6 percent over last year, the biggest rate hike in years.

Earlier this year in an effort to hold down costs, CalPERS ended Blue Shield of California's virtual monopoly of the fund's HMO business. Next year, Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, Sharp and United Health Care will get some of the 400,000 or so members who have HMO coverage through the fund.

These links provide more details about today's news:

June 18, 2013
California bill adds fine for child porn on public computers

130618-students-computers-kitagaki.JPGState workers convicted of possessing or transmitting child pornography would have to pay an extra $2,000 fine if they used work computers to commit the crime, under terms of a bill breezing through the Legislature.

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron's measure is aimed at curbing criminal use of public computers in libraries and at colleges, but the measure would also apply to public employees' workstations. The bill cleared the Assembly on a 74-0 vote and now is set for a floor vote in the Senate.

Current law makes possessing, transporting or producing child pornography punishable by imprisonment county jail for a year or state prison for up to three years plus a fine of up to $10,000. Possession for sale is punishable by up to six years in state prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Assembly Bill 20 mandates that revenue from the $2,000 government computer-use fine be shared equally to fund sexual assault investigator training, to fund public agencies and nonprofits serving victims of human trafficking;and to fund teams that fight child abuse by bringing together law enforcement, child protection groups, medical and mental health providers and victim and child advocacy organizations.

California Assembly Bill 20

PHOTO: Students work on computers in the library media area at THE Yuba College Sutter County Center in 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Paul Kitagaki Jr.

June 17, 2013
California finance director will decide when state raises kick in

matosantos.jpgState workers, welcome to the back of the line.

The tentative agreement covering 95,000 state employees represented by SEIU Local 1000 includes a 4.5 percent raise spread over two years starting in mid-2014.

But the deal includes a contingency that puts employee pay raises below the state's other obligations and leaves it to the finance director, currently Ana Matosantos, to make the decision.

Here's the caveat in the Local 1000 tentative agreement posted online last week:

June 17, 2013
California bill requires reports on moonlighting state workers

130620-RB-Super-Moon.JPGAmong the mountain of budget-related measures lawmakers approved last week, two paragraphs in the voluminous Assembly Bill 76 call for greater scrutiny of "additional appointments" and the policy that fueled them.

The measure requires the Department of Human Resources make regular reports to the Legislature on employees who hold two or more jobs in state government. The State Personnel Board would also have to make a report to the Legislature about the obscure, loosely-written policy manual departments leaned on to justify the practice.

The measure, now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature, is the latest turn in a series of events triggered by Bee reports that showed how the once-obscure policy allowed California state employees -- including salaried managers -- to take a second hourly-wage job within their same department.

A measure died in committee last month that would have prohibited salaried state employees from taking a second hourly-wage position within their same department or agency. The bill's Republican author, Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, said at the time he hoped lawmakers would enact similar legislation as part of the budget.

Gov. Jerry Brown's administration has banned the practice for salaried employees. Here's the budget trailer bill language:

June 17, 2013
SEIU deal increases state worker costs by nearly $735 million

The tentative agreement hammered out between Gov. Jerry Brown and SEIU Local 1000 will add roughly $734.8 million over three years to California's compensation costs for the 95,000 employees the deal covers.

Put another way, the state's average cost per employee would increase under the proposal by roughly $7,700 -- $210 per month from July 2013 through June 2016. Union members must ratify the pact before it can take effect.

Raises phased in over the last two years of the deal account for the bulk of the money, according to estimates released last week by Brown's Department of Human Resources.

A planned 2 percent raise in fiscal 2014-15 would add a total of $262.5 million over two years. A second 2.5 percent pay increase anticipated in fiscal 2015-16 adds another $167.4 million for that year.

Higher health benefits costs will add another $271 million. Raises for seasonal clerks, employee pay differentials and a few other relatively minor items make up the balance.

Meanwhile, the state will save $2.79 million over the contract's three years because new CalPERS members will be under the lower-benefits, higher pension-contribution formulas mandated by the 2012 pension-change law.

The documents:
CalHR's summary of the contract
The summary of the contract's cost (total costs are in the "total budgetary" column on the right)

The Bargaining Unit 1 tentative agreement is posted below. Click here for links to tentative agreements covering all nine state bargaining units under SEIU.

June 13, 2013
Read Delaware court ruling ordering CalPERS to pay $52 million

CalPERS has lost a lawsuit over fees it owes a former real estate investment partner. A Delware court, The Bee's Dale Kasler reports, has ordered the fund pay $52 million.

Here's the court ruling for State Worker blog users who want to delve into the technical details. (We know who you are, Bargaining Unit 2 people!)

Senior Housing Capital, LLC v. SHP Senior Housing Fund, LLC 5 13 13

June 13, 2013
The Roundup: SEIU labor deal; CalPERS loses $52 million lawsuit

HA_newspapers3808.JPGThe State Worker: Here's the case for SEIU pay raises
Now that SEIU Local 1000 has negotiated an across-the-board pay bump for the 95,000 employees it represents, the inevitable question follows: Is it a sensible agreement? - The Sacramento Bee

CalPERS loses lawsuit, must pay $52 million
CalPERS was ordered to pay about $52 million to a former business partner in a dispute over fees generated by an investment in a string of Florida nursing homes. -The Sacramento Bee

Florida prison officers win $603,000 settlement
The state has worked out a $603,000 settlement with the federal government to settle a long-running dispute with the union representing prison guards, compensating them for time spent preparing for going to and from their duty stations. - The Current

Want more? For stories of interest to state employees, check out the State Worker's new and constantly updated News & Views feed by clicking here.

Follow @TheStateWorker on Twitter and check out our community page on Facebook for links, comments and insights into our reports, blog posts and columns.

June 12, 2013
VIDEO: Assemblyman Brian Jones criticizes union rallies

Assemblyman Brian Jones has released the latest in his 'Are you kidding me?' video series, this time aiming his criticism at public employee union rallies.

Although he is careful to note that he supports the right to demonstrate, he argues that government unions' rallies are "more of a big party" than a legitimate protest.

This video comes after an announcement by SEIU Local 1000 that they have reached a tentative labor agreement with the governor.

The timing, Jones said during a Tuesday afternoon interview at his office, was purely coincidental.

See the State Worker's Blog coverage of the recent protests at the Capitol here.

June 11, 2013
What triggers raises in CA state worker union contract?

First there were "trigger cuts." Now, trigger raises.

The tentative agreement reached between Gov. Jerry Brown and SEIU Local 1000 features a deferred raise of 4.5 percent over three years, but it's timing depends on the state's financial health. The agreement requires approval by the union's members before it takes effect.

"Revenues have to be consistent with meeting the state's obligations," said Pat McConahay, spokeswoman for Brown's Department of Human Resources, "and that's determined by the Department of Finance."

Brown, speaking to reporters this afternoon about the state budget deal reached with Democrats in the Legislature, said the SEIU agreement is "a fair proposal and I hope it will be ratified."

By linking pay raises to higher revenue, the agreement reflects the same sort of trigger thinking that characterized the 2012-13 state budget. That deal would have automatically cut spending for a wide variety of programs last December if state voters had not approved tax increases.

The governor and public employee unions leveraged the threat of trigger cuts when they pushed for Proposition 30 and voters approved the measure by a wide margin.

SEIU Local 1000 hasn't returned phone messages and texts seeking comment on the deal announced early this morning.

Bruce Blanning, the long-time executive director of the state engineers' union, said that he has seen state labor proposals contingent on certain economic factors in the past, but that they weren't put into contracts.

"They were too difficult to measure," Blanning said.

June 11, 2013
SEIU Local 1000 says tentative labor agreement includes raises

20120620_HA_WALKER0083.JPGThe state's largest public employees union says it bargained a new contract with Gov. Jerry Brown that includes an across-the-board pay raise of 4.5 percent over 3 years.

The contract, which must be ratified by voting members of the 95,000-employee of SEIU Local 1000, provides either a 2 percent raise July 1, 2014 and a 2.5 percent raise a year later if the state "achieves certain revenue targets," according to an early-morning union email announcing the deal.

If the state misses the revenue targets, the entire 4.5 percent increase would be effective July 1, 2015.

The announcement, emailed this morning around 5 a.m., doesn't detail the revenue thresholds for the pay increases. A spokeswoman for Brown's Department of Human Resources could not be immediately reached for comment.

The agreement falls short of the pay increases that local negotiators wanted: an across-the-board $2,500 bonus this year for all 95,000 state employees covered by Local 1000, followed by a 7 percent salary increase in 2014 and 9 percent boost the following year.

After talks stalled last week, Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said "the fight is on" over money.

PHOTO: SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker. Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

June 10, 2013
California state government selling off Silicon Valley acreage

130610-3500-Zanker-Agnews-Campus-Slide1-940x360.jpgThe state has hung the "for sale" sign on an 81-acre parcel in San Jose once occupied by Agnews Developmental Center.

According to the Department of General Services, the 3500 Zanker Rd. property includes approximately 49 structures and 586 trees within a short distance of highways 101, 880 and 237.

Agnews opened in the 1888. California's 2003-04 budget called for closing the facility, and in 2009 the last residents moved out. The Agnews campus continued to provide outpatient clinic services until 2011, when it officially closed and was handed over to general services. Over the last few years, the state has sold two other campus parcels totaling nearly 400 acres.

PHOTO: An aerial view outlines the 82-acre parcel of the former Agnews Developmental Center now up for sale at 3500 Zanker Rd. in San Jose. Department of General Services/

June 10, 2013
The Roundup: U.S. Senate staff classes teach sleeping, small talk, forgiveness

HA_newspapers3808.JPGSenate Staffers Can Take Free Classes On Sleeping, Sitting and Forgiveness
The Senate Office of Education and Training offers many classes to workers in the Senate. - BuzzFeed

Bomb threat linked to sign misspelling
A man brought a pressure cooker that he claimed was a bomb into the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission office Wednesday and told employees he tried to blow up their sign because it was misspelled. - Statesman Journal

State workers spend three days a year waiting for PCs to start
Stephen Kelly, the government's chief operating officer, said it took seven minutes for his own PC to spring into life in the morning. - The Telegraph (UK)

Want more? For stories of interest to state employees, check out the State Worker's new and constantly updated News & Views feed by clicking here.

Follow @TheStateWorker on Twitter and check out our community page on Facebook for links, comments and insights into our reports, blog posts and columns.

June 7, 2013
Event to highlight equal opportunity employment issues

Mark your calendars: The California Department of Human Resources and several employee groups are hosting a conference next week to focus on equal employment opportunity issues in state government.

The California Civil Rights Officers Council, the Statewide Disability Advisory Council in collaboration with the Civil Rights Coalition of the Asian Pacific State Employees Association are co-hosting the event Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1500 Capitol Ave. in Sacramento. Admission is free.

Scheduled speakers include Yvonne Walker, president of SEIU Local 1000; CalHR Director Julie Chapman; former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso; California NAACP President Alice Huffman and Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of West Covina.

CalHR EEO Conference Brochure

June 7, 2013
California board will audit executive jobs filled by retirees

130606-SPB-logo.jpegThe State Personnel Board has decided to begin auditing the practice of retired annuitants getting career executive assignments.

The decision, announced at the board's meeting this week, falls shy of what the Coalition of State Advocate Groups and Organizations wanted, namely a full hearing into the policy reported in an April investigation by The Bee.

The coalition says that appointing retired annuitants as CEAs breaches state policy, overpays the retirees for the work they actually perform and fosters cronyism. Since the personnel board exists to watchdog state government's civil-service merit system, the group asked the five-member panel to hold a hearing.

While the personnel board has a part in authorizing new career executive positions, it doesn't control retiree hiring policy. That's the California Department of Human Resource's job (and CalHR as of last month had two retirees appointed to CEA positions).

Board chairwoman Patricia Clarey read this statement into the record Tuesday:

June 6, 2013
CalPERS report: State, schools pension costs will dip next year

Thumbnail image for CALPERS_COURTYARD_JAY_MATHER_2005.JPGA new CalPERS staff report says that pension costs for California state government and school district employees will fall by a combined $102.8 million for the coming fiscal year.

Overall state contributions will fall $71.3 million to approximately $3.81 billion in fiscal 2013-14, according to actuarial estimates prepared for CalPERS' June 18 board meeting. School districts will pay $4.98 billion for pensions, down $31.5 million from this year.

Actuaries anticipate pension costs will dip next year due to a combination of factors, including slower-than-expected salary and payroll growth and higher out-of-pocket contributions from employees under pension law that took effect Jan. 1.

The 2013-14 employer rates will kick in July 1, assuming the fund's board approves them.

June 6, 2013
Column Extra: California state unions veer around 'Jerry Brown'

20130605_HA_SEIU0601.JPGOur State Worker column in today's Bee looks at Wednesday's SEIU Local 1000 rally and how it underscores tension for state employee labor and the local in particular as it negotiates new contracts: How do you push back against Gov. Jerry Brown?

Unions tend to separate the governor himself from the administrative machinery of governing when disagreements arise. Unlike their highly personal public criticisms of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger during the height of his battles with labor, union leaders tend to place blame anywhere but on Brown personally.

Local 1000, for example, has called out "the state's bargaining team" for rejecting bonus and pay raise proposals. Of course, that's a reference to the Department of Human Resources, which is under Brown's authority.

Last year, the state's engineers and scientists filed a grievance over furloughs, but blamed the matter on Schwarzenegger, even though the events in question involved Brown's budget.

PHOTO: Robert Walsh of San Diego, a state lottery worker, holds a sign expressing his feelings about Gov. Jerry Brown as state workers wearing purple shirts rally at the Capitol in support of a raise on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

June 5, 2013
SEIU 1000 president: Contract 'fight is on' with Jerry Brown

20120620_HA_WALKER0083.JPGThe head of the state's largest public employee union has told its members that contract talks with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration have snagged over money.

"The fight is on," SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said in a statement issued just a few hours today before a Capitol rally expected to draw several thousand state employees in Sacramento.

Brown's labor relations arm, the Department of Personnel Administration, has been telling SEIU and nine other unions in bargaing talks that new labor contracts must be "cost-neutral," despite the state's improving budget picture. The pacts all expire on July 1, 2 or 3.

"Our members do not lead 'cost-neutral' lives, and we will not end this contract without money," Walker said.

The union said that the administration rejected a proposed pay increase across the board for Local 1000 members and nine other money proposals that its negotiators have brought to the table.

CalHR spokeswoman Pat McConahay declined to respond to the union's characterization of bargaining talks.

"We do not comment on ongoing negotiations," McConahay said.

PHOTO CREDIT: SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee 2012 file

June 4, 2013
Read why the state overturned California prison guard firings

Thumbnail image for NOTEBOOK1.jpgOur report in today's Bee provides a glimpse into the case of five correctional officers who, according to the State Personnel Board, were unjustly fired last year for allegedly abusing an inmate in 2011.

The story builds on a heavily-redacted 33-page proposed decision by Teri Block, one of the board's administrative law judges. Block includes a detailed narrative of events based on investigations and testimony and then dissects lapses in the investigation.

We've embedded Block's October decision below followed by board's final decision from January. Corrections officials asked for reconsideration, which the board rejected.

June 3, 2013
States get into the mobile app game

130603-apple-samsung--phones.JPGStates are rolling out mobile applications that do everything from touting tourism to assisting with tax payments.

Stateline's Melissa Maynard recently reported on the phenomenon and linked to a National Association of State Chief Information Officers site that catalogs 160 or so apps from around the nation.

The most common mobile programs connect users with their state's motor vehicles agency or provide state parks' information. Many help voters locate polling places or look up contact information for their elected officials.

Other apps are more tourism- and business-minded. "Delaware Fresh," gives users an interactive map that shows more than 80 farm stands and markets in the state.

And New York promotes its lottery with the "Yo-Yolanda" app. The Apple App Store description:

Spin your yo-yo like a New Yorker with Yo-Yolanda Vega! This yo-yo application from The New York Lottery shows you how to perform iconic tricks like The Brooklyn Bridge, Lady Liberty, The Niagara Fall and The Perfect Slice. The more tricks you master, the more points you get. NY Lottery announcer Yolanda Vega will be there to cheer you on. And after you're an ace with the yo-yo, you can check the NY Lottery winning numbers to see if you've really hit it big.

Please play responsibly. You must be 18 years or older to purchase a Lottery ticket.

PHOTO CREDIT: An Apple iPhone and a Samsung Galaxy. 2012 AP Photo / Ahn Young-joon

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


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