The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 2, 2013
What California state workers earn: Operating engineers

RCB_20121010TEENJOBS_0087.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

The International Union of Operating Engineers represents two state employee groups. Unit 12 covers craft and maintenance employees while Unit 13 bargains for stationary engineers.

Unit 12 negotiators, including president Tim Neep, have argued that the state needs to pay more to keep key employees who work on the massive State Water Project.

The Brown administration, according to the union, has resisted that push for fear of opening up the issue for other groups.

Here's what members of those two bargaining units earned over the last two years:

Bargaining Unit 12
Number of employees in 2012: 9,604
2012 average pay: $44,734
2012 median pay: $46,430

Number of employees in 2011: 9,686
2011 average pay: $42,951
2011 median pay: $44,611

2012 Largest job class: Caltrans Equipment Operator II (1,767)
Highest paid job class (2012 average): Senior Water and Power Dispatcher ($85,284)
Lowest paid job class (2012 average): Painter 1- Correctional Facility ($4,832)

Bargaining Unit 13
Number of employees in 2012: 909
2012 average pay: $55,081
2012 median pay: $57,951

Number of employees in 2011: 919
2011 average pay: $55,019.05
2011 median pay: $57,513.73

Largest job class 2012: Stationary Engineer (Correctional Facility)
Highest paid job class (2012 average): Water and Sewage Plant Operator, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Safety) ($63,659)
Lowest paid job class (2012 average): Operator Tunnels and Tubes ($36,917)

This chart shows the average and median pay for Bargaining Units 12 and 13 in 2011 and 2012.

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. The number of employees includes only full-time workers who were paid during the calendar year. University of California and California State University employee earnings are not included in these figures. The data covers calendar 2011 and 2012.

PHOTO: Pat Grisby, a senior coordinating operating engineer, helps James Hinton, 12, right, of Golden Sierra Junior High Sschool guide a backhoe simulator in Sacramento on Oct. 10, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Renée C. Byer.

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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


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