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.