The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

October 15, 2013
VIDEO: Chuck Reed's public pension talk at Hoover Institution

Here's video of San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's keynote address on public pensions at Stanford's Hoover Institution on Wednesday, Oct. 9.

As we reported last week, Reed said during a Q&A after his presentation that he would soon file papers to put a public pension measure on California's statewide ballot. That part of the video starts at roughly the 24-minute mark.

Reed, a Democrat, is proposing an amendment to the California state constitution that would allow state and local government employers to cut pensions prospectively for all employees, while pensions already earned would be protected.

October 8, 2013
University of California union to ask members to authorize strike

131008-berkeley-campus.jpgThe bare-knuckles contract brawl between the University of California and one of its larger unions has entered the next round, with an announcement Tuesday that AFSCME Local 3299 is planning to take a strike vote at the end of this month.

The union represents some 22,000 employees who provide staff support and medical services at UC hospitals. Contract talks have been deadlocked for more than a year.

AFSCME officials have said they are pressing for changes to policies that waste public money and put public health at risk. The university counters that AFSCME's concerns are a smokescreen to hide its real agenda to curtail pension changes that other unions have already accepted.

The union plans to take its unfair labor practice strike vote from Oct. 28 to Oct. 30.

AFSCME's move comes after the Public Employees Relations Board last month charged the UC system with intimidating employees who participated in another strike last summer.

And 10 Democratic lawmakers recently sent this letter to the UC's new president, Janet Napolitano. The letter notes the imposed working terms on AFSCME-represented service staff affect some of the UC's lowest-paid employees, "90% of whom are immigrants and people of color."

UC spokeswoman Dianne Klein said that the university's terms for service employees gave them a 2 percent pay raise this year following 5 percent raises during each of the last two years and that they earn more than counterparts in the California State University system or the private sector.

Last August, neutral factfinder Paul D. Roose summed up the relationship between AFSCME and the university like this:

Arguably, the parties are tens of millions of dollars apart in their economic proposals. And, in the opinion of the neutral, each side is vigorously attempting to take away rights traditionally reserved to the other party.

The parties surely recognize that they are a few short steps away from a collision - in the form of a unilateral implementation and / or work stoppage - that will benefit neither side and will harm many other stakeholders in the University community.

Napolitano is planning to meet with AFSCME leaders soon, Klein said, as part of her effort to meet various UC constituencies as she learns her new job, but "not to collectively bargain."

PHOTO: People walk through Sproul Plaza near Sather Gate on the UC Berkeley campus on June 1, 2011. Associated Press/Eric Risberg

September 23, 2013
Hearing date set for Jerry Brown's furlough ruling appeal

Jerry_Brown_HJA3698.JPGWith an estimated $12 million at stake, Gov. Jerry Brown and unions representing California's state scientists and engineers will again debate whether the government owes back wages for wrongly furloughing a combined 13,000 employees.

Professional Engineers in California Government and California Association of Professional Scientists successfully argued last year that Brown in 2011 reduced their members' hours and wages two days longer than authorized by the Legislature.

The unions also persuaded Alameda Superior Court Judge Steven Brick that about 250 of their members shouldn't have been furloughed at all because state law protects their positions.

September 13, 2013
California Legislature closes, three unions still without contracts

130222 Blanning.JPGWhen California lawmakers closed the books on their 2013 session Thursday night, state employee unions representing state attorneys and other legal officials, scientists and stationary engineers still didn't have contracts.

California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers In State Employment (CASE), California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS) and Bargaining Unit 13 of the International Union Operating Engineers (IUOE) represent a combined 7,700 or so employees who will be working for the next several months under the terms of contracts that expired in July.

The Legislature's recess ended any chance that it would authorize money for new labor contracts before it returns to work in January. Until lawmakers appropriate funds, a deal can't be sealed.

September 12, 2013
Column Extra: More info about Knox v. SEIU Local 1000

130912-US-Supreme-Court.jpgThis week's State Worker column looks at how much and to whom SEIU Local 1000 is making repayment for special assessments it wrongly took from nonmembers, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, to fund political activities in 2005 and 2006.

While Local 1000 wouldn't talk about it, the attorney on the other side did. The column lays out what James Young said about how many people will get some money back and how much.

Here are a few links and documents that informed the column:

SEIU Local 1000's Information and FAQs: Knox Judgment Refunds

Bloomberg Law's SCOTUS Blog's page for Knox v. SEIU International Union, Local 1000

The petition to the U.S. Supreme Court by Diane Knox and other SEIU nonmembers

The response by SEIU Local 1000

The U.S. Supreme Court's Knox majority ruling and dissent

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much 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.

PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court building. The Associated Press/Pat Benic

September 3, 2013
Read the contract between Jerry Brown, California engineers

AerialDelta.JPGAs we reported over the holiday weekend, California's state engineers' union has tentatively agreed to a two-year contract that includes an across-the-board raise.

The deal "deep classes" a handful of engineering job classifications and also adds State Water Project engineers to a paid-time-off incentive program. Other union contracts already include the program, which pays up to 80 hours to employees whose divisions within the Department of Water Resources meet certain water delivery and power generation goals.

Here's the tentative agreement. Scroll down to pages 18 and 19 for more details about the incentive program:

August 30, 2013
Operating engineers' new deal costs state up to $54.9 million

130620-capitol-mall.JPGThe tentative agreement between Gov. Jerry Brown and the union representing roughly 11,000 heavy equipment operators will add up to $54.9 million to the state's payroll costs, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.

The two-year deal, like most Brown has negotiated with other unions over the last two months, relies on a fiscal trigger to determine whether the money will be split over two years or deferred to the last year.

One scenario for state workers in Bargaining Unit 12, who are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers, provides a $1,200 bonus on July 1, 2014 (which equals 2.5 percent of the average wage for employees covered by the contract) and a 3 percent raise on July 1, 2015.

That, along with higher employer contributions to health insurance premiums and a few other minor non-wage increases, would cost the state $54.9 million, according to the LAO.

But if Brown says revenues in fiscal 2014-15 aren't sufficient to cover the bonus, union members will have to wait one year to get a 3.25 percent raise with no bonus. That plan would reduce the contract's three-year cost to $42.3 million.

That hits the high points of the IUOE deal, but if you want to get more deeply into the numbers and terms, here's the analyst's report:

August 27, 2013
Read the CCPOA tentative contract and summary

PRISON-officer-0275.JPGThe Department of Human Resources has released a summary of its tentative contract with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and the agreement in full.

You can read our weekend report on the dealhere. We've embedded the documents below.

The state's accounting of the two-year agreement doesn't include the contract's estimated costs. which includes significant changes to the way overtime is calculated and shortens correctional officers' academy training.

Look for the Legislative Analyst's Office to do that within the next week or so. The LAO has 10 days from when it receives official documentation of the agreement to turn around a cost estimate for the Legislature.

August 26, 2013
Law enforcement officers' union agrees to new contract

Another union has reached a tentative contract agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown.

This time it's the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association agreeing to a three-year deal that includes a 3 percent raise for all 7,000 state workers it represents, a diverse group of employees who do everything from protecting state lands and property to issuing licenses and permits and conducting investigations. Some arrest people.

The across-the board raise takes effect July 1, 2015. Hospital police officers and peace officers working in state developmental centers get an additional 4.67 percent raise effective July 1, 2015 on top of general raise.

Unlike many contracts negotiated with the Brown administration, the raises come in the last year of the agreement, so there's no "trigger" provision for delaying the increase if the state's financial projections are down.

Like other agreements, the contract brings employees' pension contributions in line with new public pension law requiring workers split the normal costs of their retirements with their employers.

Police officer/fire fighter members will contribute 13 percent of their pensionable pay for wages earned July 1, 2014 and beyond, with workers in the state safety category contributing 11 percent starting the same date.

Miscellaneous and industrial workers will continue paying their current rate of 8 percent toward retirement.

The administration estimates the deal will add $32.1 million in total costs to the state budget, assuming the Legislature and union rank and file OK it.

Here's the Department of Human Resources summary:

August 26, 2013
California state labor deals add up to $63 million in new costs

RDB090.JPGTwo union agreements recently reached with Gov. Jerry Brown will add between $43.1 million and $62.8 million in new employee compensation costs to the state, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office.

The three-year contracts cover approximately 1,500 doctors and dentists represented by the Union of American Physicians and Dentists and another 5,000 or so psychologists, social workers and other health professionals in the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

The proposed agreements raise pay 4 percent for most UAPD employees and 3 percent for most AFSCME-covered workers, although some job classes get bigger pay hikes.

The nearly $20 million swing in the analyst's estimate comes from contingency clauses in both contracts that allow the state to delay raises based on budget projections.

If for example, the state's 2014-15 projected revenues are deemed healthy, most AFSCME-covered workers would receive a 1.5 percent raise on July 1, 2014, and a second 1.5 percent raise a year later.

If the state's projected 2014-15 revenue is down, the raises are lumped together in the contract's final year.

Here's the LAO review:

August 24, 2013
California correctional officers' union reaches tentative contract

110520_Jimenez.JPGCaifornia's state prison officers will receive a 4 percent pay raise and earn overtime more easily under the terms of a tentative agreement reached with Gov. Jerry Brown.

The deal also allows the state to continue reassigning staff to cover vacancies and reduces the length of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's academy training.

"We feel that the deal that was agreed on was a fair and equitable deal that is reflective of the way the bargaining process should work," California Correctional Peace Officers Association spokesman JeVaughn Baker said in a telephone interview. "Both parties made some concessions, and both parties gained in the process as well."

CCPOA leadership met in Sacramento today and unanimously voted to send the deal to its 30,000 rank-and-file members for a ratification vote. The two-year contract would expire in July 2015 if approved by members and the Legislature.

Costs of the agreement aren't yet available. A phone message seeking comment from Brown's Department of Human Resources, which negotiates contracts with the unions representing state employees, was not immediately returned this afternoon.

Among the agreement's provisions, according to Baker:

August 23, 2013
Operating engineers union reaches labor deal with Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown and the International Union of Operating Engineers have reached a two-year tentative agreement that boosts the pay of workers in Bargaining Unit 12 by at least 3 percent.

The deal, which must be approved by The Legislature and voting union members among the 11,000 or so workers covered by it, provides a one-time $1,200 bonus on July 1, 2014 and a 3 percent raise on July 1, 2015 contingent on projected state revenues sufficient to cover it. If the Brown administration determines that revenues aren't sufficient for the bonus and the raise next year, then the pay his back one year and increased to 3.25 percent with no bonus.

The tentative contract doesn't apply to IUOE-represented workers in Bargaining Unit 13. It also doesn't address raises that the Brown administration gave to State Water Project workers such as water and power dispatchers who have been routinely picked off by better-paying utilities. (We've posted detailed breakdowns of those pay hikes below.)

Here's the summary of the Bargaining Unit 12 deal:

August 22, 2013
Column extra: Read state worker's furlough back pay lawsuit

Our State Worker column today reports on a furlough lawsuit filed by Kelly Vent, an Alcoholic Beverage Control attorney who works in Sacramento.

Here's Vent's petition to the Sacramento County Superior Court. She will likely amend it to include the Department of Human Resources and the State Personnel Board, she said in a Wednesday email. You can find this document and others related to it via the court's online document viewer using case number 34-2013-80001576.

Kelly Vent Petition for Writ of Mandate

With just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much 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.

August 13, 2013
From the notebook: California and federal laws about to collide

NOTEBOOK_use_this.jpgOur story in today's fiber/cyber Sacramento Bee explains the looming crash between California's Public Employee Pension Reform Act and a federal mass-transit grant law that makes the money conditional on preserving collective representation of mass-transit workers.

Congress tied the federal strings tied to mass-transit money with a 1964 law intended to protect private mass-transportation employees' collective bargaining rights. Struggling mass-transit operations around the country were shifting from private-sector control to the public sector at the time, and unions worried their members would lose vested pension benefits, the right to strike and power to collectively negotiate contracts if they became public employees.

Back then, unions were common in private industry, but relatively rare in government. (California didn't allow local government employees to organize until 1968. First-term Gov. Jerry Brown signed a collective-bargaining law covering state employees nearly a decade later.) And then, as now, state and local government employers were expressly exempt from the National Labor Relations Act.

Today unions are much more prevalent in the public sector and have nearly disappeared on the private side.

Some links and embedded documents that add history and more details to today's report:

"Bill would exempt thousands of California public employees from pension overhaul" (Jan. 29 Sacramento Bee report)
Assembly Bill 160 analysis. The measure would exempt public mass-transit employees from pension reform.
"Brown aide defends pension reform for mass-transit workers" (Feb. 21 State Worker blog post)
Background on the Federal Transit Act, Section 13(c)
Legal Research Digest: "Transit Labor Protection -- A Guide to 13(c) Federal Transit Act"

And here's the memo from Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority CEO Arthur Leahy that includes a list of MTA projects at risk and a letter from U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to Gov. Jerry Brown warning that the feds are prepared to cut off funds:

August 9, 2013
California state health professionals union reaches labor deal

Jerry_Brown_HJA3698.JPGGov. Jerry Brown and the union representing state health and social services workers have reached a tentative agreement that includes an 8 percent raise for two job classifications, a 3 percent increase for the rest and assurances that the state will consider further hikes for a a handful of jobs.

The deal with AFSCME Local 2620, like contracts recently negotiated with SEIU Local 1000 and the state psychiatric technicians' union, covers three fiscal years ending July 2016.

And, like those agreements, the timing of the proposed pay hikes depends on the Brown administration's assessment of state government finances next year.

The Brown administration hasn't yet completed its cost analysis. A message left with AFSCME senior business agent Cliff Tillman wasn't immediately returned.

August 8, 2013
Personnel panel grills Corrections lawyer on services contract

100602 yolo county gavel.jpgIf the 50-minute spanking disguised as a State Personnel Board hearing Thursday was any indication, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation will again be on the losing side of an outsourcing contract dispute.

And this may be just the beginning.

Members of the State Personnel Board spent nearly all of their time at the hearing grilling Scott Wyckoff, the supervising deputy attorney general who defended CDCR's $6 million, three-year contract with Williams & Associates to handle inmate lawsuits against the state. (Our Thursday column lays out the arguments for and against the contract.)

It didn't help Wyckoff's case that the agreement in question was entered into just weeks after the board deemed a similar $5 million deal to be illegal. That first contract, "Williams I," expired in mid-2012, and "Williams II" started the next day. Taken together, CDCR's deal with the firm runs up to six years and up to $11 million, despite the personnel board's earlier disapproval.

State law requires that whenever an agency determines it needs to contract for outside legal counsel, it must notify the state lawyer's union, California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employment, also called CASE. It's a check on runaway contracting and a layer of protection for civil service.

During the back-and-forth with the panel, Wyckoff mentioned that the department had other contracts with other law firms. When asked by board member Lauri Shanahan for details -- how many other law firms are under contract or their cost -- Wyckoff couldn't say.

"I don't know the answer to that," Wyckoff said. "Perhaps CASE ..."

Board president Patricia Clarey then turned to CASE attorney Patrick Whalen and asked what was the toughest question posed to him during the hearing: "Can you offer some thought on that?"

"I was shocked to learn today of other cases out there beyond Williams & Associates," Whalen said. "There may well be future challenges if we can find out (more) about them."

The board is expected to render a decision in a month or so.

PHOTO: www.yolocourts.ca.gov

August 5, 2013
California psych techs' contract adds a total $39 million in costs

mac_taylor.JPGCalifornia's state psychiatric technicians' new tentative contract, which includes an across-the-board pay raise, increases the state's cost for their service by a total $39 million over three years, according to Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor's office.

Assuming approval by the Legislature and the union rank-and-file, the agreement pushes nearly all of the increases into the last two years of the three-year deal. For example, the Brown administration has the option to split the proposed 4.25 percent pay hike between fiscal 2014-15 and fiscal 2015-16 or to defer the whole thing until fiscal 2015-16 if the state's finances warrant it.

Local 1000, the first union to reach a deal, is receiving a cumulative 4.5 percent raise with the same deferral terms.

The raises for about 5,000 employees represented by the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians will account for $15.4 million, according to the Legislative Analyst's Office report released Friday.

Increased employer contributions to health insurance will add another $14.1 million over the life of the agreement. Those contributions will roughly equal 80 percent of the premiums' cost. The contract also reduces waiting times to one year for employees to add dependents to medical coverage, a $200,000 state cost increase that starts in 2015-16, the analyst says.

The association's contract also calls for an increase in travel reimbursement rates and evening and night shift differentials. Neither add much to the state's employee costs -- about $400,000 over the life of the contract.

The shift differential money doesn't count toward pension calculations. Under the expired contract, it did. A new trend?

For context, salaries for state employees under the governor's authority will cost an estimated $15.3 billion this year. That figure doesn't include benefits.

Here's the LAO's review of the CAPT contract:

July 18, 2013
Column Extra: The first try at CHP pay parity

Our column in today's Bee takes on the question: How did CHP officers' pay become set by law?

The answer is a story than spans four decades, Republican and Democratic governors and battles wages in the statehouse, the courthouse and the ballot box.

Ironically, Caifornia voters rejected a measure to guarantee CHP officers receive pay comparable to the maximum paid their counterparts statewide. Gov. (and former actors' union president) Ronald Reagan signed the first CHP pay parity law.

The documents below include the 1972 ballot measure's title and summary in a letter from then-Attorney General Evelle Younger to -- that's right -- former Secretary of State Jerry Brown.

Proposition 16 Title and Summary

July 11, 2013
Jerry Brown signs SEIU Local 1000 contract

Thumbnail image for Jerry Brown 2012 amezcua.jpgGov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed into law a new contract agreement between the state and SEIU Local 1000.

The governor's signature was the last step needed to ratify the three-year agreement, which gives approximately 95,000 SEIU Local 1000 members a 4.5 percent raise by 2015.

Earlier this week, SEIU announced that the contract had been approved by 90 percent of its voting members, meeting the requirement that union membership, in addition to the state Legislature, approve the contract.

"This agreement recognizes the important role state employees have played in helping stabilize California's financial outlook over the last few years, " said Pat McConahay, a spokesperson for the Department of Human Resources. "As a result of their contributions, they will receive modest pay increases to be phased in beginning July 1, 2014. Those increases, however, will depend on the state's economic health at that time."

On Wednesday, the state's psychiatric technicians' union became the second union to announce it had reached a tentative deal with the governor. It calls for more than 6,000 state psychiatric technicians to receive a 4.25 percent raise by 2015.

Nine of the state's 21 bargaining units have yet to strike a deal with Brown. Until then, workers continue to operate under the terms of their expired contracts.

PHOTO: Governor Jerry Brown, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

July 10, 2013
CA psychiatric technicians reach tentative deal with Jerry Brown

RCB_SHARON_VISITS_NAPA_ID.JPGState psychiatric technicians and Gov. Jerry Brown reached a tentative three-year agreement Wednesday that includes a 4.25 percent pay raise for the unit by 2015.

The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, which represents about 6,000 psychiatric technicians in state service, became the second union to reach a new three-year deal after its contract with the state expired July 1.

The new agreement is similar to the deal struck earlier this summer between Brown and SEIU Local 1000, under which members got a 4.5 percent raise. Like the SEIU deal, psychiatric technicians will either receive the raise in two parts -- 2 percent in 2014 and 2.25 percent in 2015, or all 4.25 percent in 2015 if the state determines it does not have the funds for the raise in 2014.

Under the agreement, furloughs and PLP time will be prohibited for the duration of the contract.

"We sought to make improvement in both economic and non-economic contract language," said Brady Oppenheim, a consultant for California Association of Psychiatric Technicians. "And we feel we achieved modest, but fair improvements in this latest tentative agreement."

More psychiatric technicians who make up bargaining unit 18 work in state developmental centers, hospitals and prisons to provide care for developmentally disabled and mentally ill clients.

The agreement will now head to both the Legislature and union membership for voting.

PHOTO: Sharon Benda shows her license as ID to gain entry to visit her mentally ill son at the Napa State Hospital in Napa on Saturday September 4, 2004. The Sacramento Bee/Renee C. Byer.

July 9, 2013
SEIU Local 1000 members overwhelmingly approve contract

20120620_HA_WALKER0026.JPGNinety percent of SEIU Local 1000 voters approved a new contract with Gov. Jerry Brown, the union announced late Tuesday.

The Legislature ratified the contract last week, and the union says it expects Brown to sign the deal on Wednesday. It includes a 4.5 percent pay raise for SEIU members by 2015. It also bans furloughs for the length of the contract period and increases travel and business reimbursements.

"Our new contract delivers on each of the four top priorities identified by our members," union president Yvonne R. Walker said in a prepared statement. "It protects retirement, preserves our 80/20 health benefit premiums, prohibits new furloughs or PLP days, and includes a wage increase for everyone."

The union, which has about 95,000 members, is the largest representing state workers.

PHOTO: Yvonne Walker, president of California state employees' largest labor union SEIU Local 1,000, smiles as she talks with Senator Kevin De Leon, D-Los Angeles on June 20, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

July 5, 2013
Read the agreement for CA Department of Water Resources raises

On Wednesday, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the state reached an agreement to raise the pay of select water department workers.

The agreement affects the pay for job classes which that state says it has had difficultly staffing due to wages that are below what is being paid by other agencies. The raises range between 17.9 and 37.4 percent and are effective immediately.

Read the agreement and transmittal letter below.

July 3, 2013
Jerry Brown grants raises for some water department workers

Jerry Brown 2012 amezcua.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has agreed to increase pay by up to 37 percent for water department workers in positions the state has had difficulty staffing.

Brown and representatives from International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) finalized an addendum to the union's contract Wednesday to raise the pay by 17.9 percent to 37.4 percent for 741 employees for 34 job classifications in the Department of Water Resources. The raises are effective immediately and are estimated to cost the state $18.3 million.

State and union officials have said the raises are needed to prevent the drain of State Water Project employees to other higher-paying jobs. The vacancy rate in jobs responsible for running and operating the vast project has run between 10 percent and 15 percent for the last two years.

The agreement comes after California Water Commission Chairman Joseph Byrne warned of a staffing "crisis" in the department. In a April 23 letter to Resources Secretary John Laird, he noted some employees were being paid "65 percent below the industry's median."

In some cases, the state has spent $300,000 to $400,000 to train employees, only to see them lured away from state service by higher salaries elsewhere, department officials have said.

In effort to retain existing staff in the short term, the agreement prevents workers from immediately using the extra pay to bump up their retirement. The deal says workers cannot apply any of the raise toward their pension calculation if they retire before July 1, 2014 and only half of it if they retire before July 1, 2015. After that, their full salary could be used for pension calculations.

The agreement will affect 19 rank-and-file classes, three manager classes and 12 supervisor classes.

"As one of the largest utilities in the world, it is vitally important that the Department of Water Resources retain highly skilled professionals to ensure timely, efficient deliveries of water to 25 million Californians and thousands of farms and ranches," Richard Stapler, deputy secretary of the Natural Resources Agency, said in a prepared statement. "California's economy relies on a secure, reliable supply of water, and a loss of these professionals to other utilities could also cost the state millions of dollars in missed water deliveries."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown in 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

July 3, 2013
What California state workers earn: The grand finale

ha_SEIU44713.JPGWith state worker unions at the bargaining table negotiating with Gov. Jerry Brown for more pay, among other issues, The State Worker has been running a series looking at what the state workforce earned in 2011 and 2012..

There are still 10 bargaining units at the negotiating table after contracts for most state workers expired Monday. The only contract to be renegotiated so far, that for the nine bargaining units represented by SEIU Local 1000, is still awaiting ratification. Local 1000 members will continue voting on the contract through next Monday.

Salaries are a big negotiating point for unions after years of pay cuts, furloughs and personal leave time.

Below are the links for the series, which shows salary statistics for each bargaining unit:

SEIU Local 1000, Part 1
SEIU Local 1000, Part 2
State Lawyers
Highway patrol officers
Prison and parole officers
Law enforcement
Firefighters
Engineers
Scientists
Operating engineers
Doctors and dentists
Psychiatric technicians
Health and social services

Also, check out The Bee's state worker pay database here.

PHOTO: Blanche Espinoza, of Stockton, writes a message on a banner in support of state workers as a large group of SEIU Local 1000 members and supporters gathered at the State Capitol in Sacramento on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 to protest the proposed cut to their salaries to the federal minimum wage. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

July 3, 2013
What California state workers earn: Psychiatric technicians

RCB_SHARON_VISITS_NAPA_ID.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

Although Ken Murch retired in 2012 after decades as the executive director of the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, he returned this year to bargain for the union. It's a plus for CAPT. Murch and Gov. Jerry Brown have a relationship that dates back to the governor's first go-round in office.

Meanwhile, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Diana Dooley has established a task force that will consider the future of state's developmental center system. Many of California's psychiatric technicians work at the four large developmental centers and one small community facility that serve roughly 1,500 residents with an annual budget of $545 million.

Number of employees in 2012: 5,484
2012 average pay: $48,525
2012 median pay: $56,430

Number of employees in 2011: 5,627
2011 average pay: $46,833
2011 median pay: $53,418

2012 Largest job class: Psychiatric Technician (Safety) (2,858)
Highest paid job class (2012 average): Psychiatric Technician Instructor ($64,742)
Lowest paid job class (2012 average): Psychiatric Technician Training Candidate ($811)

This chart shows the average and median pay for Bargaining Unit 18 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.

Check out The Bee's state worker pay database here.

PHOTO: Sharon Benda shows her license as ID to gain entry to visit her mentally ill son at the Napa State Hospital in Napa on Saturday September 4, 2004. The Sacramento Bee/Renee C. Byer.

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:

July 1, 2013
California state union contracts expire today

130124 Jerry Brown Amezcua.JPGContracts expire today for most of the state government workforce, as Gov. Jerry Brown and representatives for 10 bargaining units continue to negotiate new deals.

Brown reached agreement with the state's largest union, Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, last month, but the contract has yet to be ratified. The contract, which includes a 4.5% pay increase for rank-and-file members by 2015, cleared the state Assembly on a 63-8 vote last week and is awaiting action in the Senate. SEIU members, meanwhile, will continue to vote on ratification through July 8.

The SEIU deal covers nine of the state's 21 bargaining units. Two other units -- those covering the California Highway Patrol and state firefighters -- extended their previous deals until 2018 and 2017, respectively.

But unions representing workers in 10 other bargaining units, including those for prison guards, scientists and engineers, are still at the table.

Until the new contracts are renegotiated, the unions will continue to operate under the terms of their current contract.

Asked about the status of contract negotiations this afternoon, Brown said, "the process continues."

He said, "I never like to characterize these negotiations," but he added, "The state is productively engaged."

David Siders contributed to this post.

July 1, 2013
What California state workers earn: Scientists

RB_Salmon_10.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

For years, the California Association of Professional Scientists has argued that its members are underpaid, not only relative to counterparts in other governments and private business, but also when compared to what other state employees earn for doing exactly the same work.

The disparity has hit the union hard as its members leave for jobs represented by other unions, particularly engineer classifications.

CAPS also has filed a grievance over what it says are violations of its contractual telecommuting provisions.

A look at what state scientists earned in the last two years:

July 1, 2013
What California state workers earn: Engineers

20120814_HA_CATRANS0203.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

Professional Engineers in California Government was the last employee group to negotiate pay parity for its members with contracts that dramatically increased wages over a number of years.

But the last big pay bump was five years ago. Since then, PECG has fought to hold the line on wages and curtail outsourced engineering and inspection contracts, and also has battled furloughs all the way to the state Supreme Court. Now union leaders say it's time to look again at what members earn compared to their local- and regional-government counterparts and boost travel reimbursements that have been stagnant for many years. (Oh, and the union also wants managers to earn more, since wages tend to roll downhill.)

Here is a look at what state engineers earned in the last two years:

June 28, 2013
What California state workers earn: Firefighters

RP_FIRE_TRAINI_G_MCCLOUD.JPGBy Amy Gebert and Jon Ortiz

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: 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
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

JM_STATE_DIGITAL_ARCHIVE.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 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 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
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 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 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

May 31, 2013
Will California state workers have new contracts soon?

Although most state employee contracts expire in the first three days of July, there's not much buzz coming out of the Capitol about ongoing negotiations.

SEIU Local 1000 (which has a standing policy to not respond to calls, emails and texts from The State Worker) has put updates on its website. The latest from the state's biggest union is that talks have produced extensions for provisions in the current contract and that the bargaining team "signed a tentative agreement to create a medical reimbursement account work group that will look at ways to reduce out-of-pocket medical costs for state employees" working outside California.

Then there's this report by California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment that recounts a May 10 meeting with the administration:

CASE also expressed a sense of optimism, because for the first time in nearly a decade the State is enjoying a budget surplus instead of a multi-billion dollar deficit. Members of the Bargaining Team made it clear to CalHR that the era of cuts and takeaways is over, and that it is time to start rebuilding the State's legal infrastructure. CalHR acknowledged there was a budget surplus, but stated that its desire is to negotiate "revenue neutral" contracts for all bargaining units.

Labor leaders of several unions speaking on background say they've heard the same "revenue neutral" message from the Brown administration.

What impact will this have on the speed of negotiations?


May 10, 2013
University of California wants court to stop hospital strike

130419-UC-Davis-Med-Center-Pench-2012.jpgThe University of California said today that it will ask a judge to keep hospital workers from striking later this month.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 says its members will walk off the job at the university system's five hospitals May 21 and May 22.

UC officials and the union have been in negotiations since last summer for a new contract covering some 13,000 patient care workers. The contract expired Oct. 1, and the contentious talks deadlocked earlier this year.

AFSCME says it's fighting to fix unsafe hospital conditions and foolish spending by high-level university officials who enrich themselves while seeking cuts to employee compensation.

The university counters that the union's real aim is to avoid new state laws that significantly reduce retirement benefits for new pension-system members.

This isn't the first time that AFSCME Local 3299 has threatened a walkout. In 2008, the union called a strike at all five UC medical centers. A San Francisco Superior Court judge issued a restraining order. The union ignored it and walked off the job for five days in July that year.

May 7, 2013
University of California employees vote to authorize strike

130419-UC-Davis-Med-Center-Pench-2012.jpgFor the second time in five years, the union representing thousands of University of California hospital workers is poised to strike.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299 said this morning that 97 percent of its members have voted to authorize a walkout. The union's announcement didn't detail how many members voted.

The local represents some 13,000 custodians, gardeners, cooks, patient care assistants, vocational nurses and radiology technicians at the five hospitals in the university system, including the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Those employees have been without a contract since October.

AFSCME has complained that the university routinely understaffs hospitals and wants to cut employee compensation while it spends more on pay and benefits for administrators. The university has brushed aside those barbs as union posturing during deadlocked contract negotiations.

During talks for its last contract in 2008, the union mounted a five-day strike despite a restraining order by a judge who found that the labor action would endanger public safety.

PHOTO CREDIT: UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento. Randy Pench / Sacramento Bee file, 2012

April 24, 2013
Rally, news conference planned to support contracting bill

130311_Richard_Pan_amezcua_2010.JPGLook for several hundred state employee union members on the Capitol's south side at noon today to show support for a measure that would put limits on government job outsourcing.

Assembly Bill 906 would limit state personal services contracts to two years with an option for a two-year extension.

It's a few steps down from an earlier version of the measure by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, that limited contracts to 90 days with a one-time option to extend the arrangement another 90 days after notifying the State Personnel Board.

SEIU Local 1000 has made a priority of curtailing outsourced personal services contracts. Pan's office is expecting a few hundred of the local's activists to attend a Pan news conference about his bill at lunch time on the Capitol's south steps.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Pan's office cites a statistic from Local 1000 research: "In 2011, the state had 11,714 active personal service contracts with private vendors worth $11.7 billion."

Local 1000 did not respond to calls, texts and emails seeking comment.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Richard Pan. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee 2010 file

April 19, 2013
Union schedules strike vote for University of California workers

130419-UC-Davis-Med-Center-Pench-2012.jpgThe American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has scheduled a strike vote for the University of California hospital employees it represents.

AFSCME Local 3299 said in a press release that it will hold the vote for three days starting April 30.

The union's 13,000, patient care assistants, vocational nurses and radiology technicians and other hospital staff at the UC's five medical centers have been without a contract since October.

With talks at a standstill, the union released a report earlier this year that claimed the UC hospital system has sacrificed patient care for money, recklessly run up debt and enriches administrators while understaffing front-line care positions. University system officials dismissed the charges as a bargaining ploy.

PHOTO CREDIT: UC Davis Medical Center. Randy Pench / Sacramento Bee 2012 file

April 4, 2013
Column Extra: The CalPERS mailing list bill

130228_postal_distribution.JPGToday's State Worker column looks at a new Assembly bill that would allow unions and and retiree groups to exploit CalPERS' member-address database for direct mailing of non-political materials.

Here's Assembly Bill 785 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego:

Assembly Bill 785

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 and the observations that inform what's published.

PHOTO CREDIT: Mail bins at West Sacramento's regional postal distribution center. / Sacramento Bee 2011 file, Jos&ecute; Luis Villegas

March 5, 2013
Union co-sponsored science fair set for Saturday in Sacramento

130305 Science fair photo 2.JPGStudents from nearly a dozen counties in Northern California will compete Saturday in the annual Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair at Rosemont High School. Winners will go to Phoenix for a global competition at the 2013 Intel International Science & Engineering Fair in May.

The regional fair's organizers anticipate exhibits from students in Amador, Butte, El Dorado, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties. The event also will feature workshops for teachers and college-bound students.

The fair runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 9594 Kiefer Blvd. in Sacramento.

Sponsors include Professional Engineers in California Government, California Association of Professional Scientists, Intel Corp. and Liberty Mutual.

PHOTO: Junior Division participant Ryan Hester explains his solar-powered boat to judges from the U.S. Navy at the 2012 Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair. / courtesy Sacramento Regional Science & Engineering Fair

February 13, 2013
State to defend pension reform law from county union lawsuits

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 110628 Kamala Harris Paul Kitagaki Jr 2010.JPGAfter staying out of the fray for several months, Gov. Jerry Brown has asked attorney general Kamala Harris to defend California's new public pension law from lawsuits filed by employee unions in at least four counties.

The litigation targets the quasi-independent pension boards in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and Merced counties for applying part of the law to all members, including those in the systems before the statute took effect on Jan. 1.

February 12, 2013
California state HR department sets contract 'sunshine' dates

130212 CalHR logo.JPGThe California Department of Human Resources has announced three dates for unions to deliver their initial labor contract proposals and to allow public comment on them.

The so-called "sunshine meetings" are required by state law, but often offer little insight into contract negotiations. Union leaders and the administration often informally work out the broad parameters of a deal. Bargaining teams then hammer out the fine details at the table.

Contracts for 19 of the state's 21 bargaining units expire on July 1, 2, or 3 this year. Unions representing state fire fighters and Highway Patrol officers extended their current pacts until 2017 and 2018, respectively.

If a union fails to reach an new agreement before its contract expires, the terms of the expired deal remain in force (with some notable exceptions) until a new contract is in place.

CalHR has set 1 p.m. on Feb. 28, Mar. 7 and Mar. 14 for the first round of presentations and will schedule additional meetings as needed.

January 17, 2013
Column Extra: Jerry Brown versus unions over holiday pay

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgWith just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published.

Our column in today's Bee updates the lengthy court battle over disciplinary threats made against state workers who might stay home on Lincoln's Birthday and Columbus Day, even though the state dropped those occasions from its paid holiday list in 2009.

As our column explains, the tussle between Gov. Jerry Brown and three unions isn't in appellate court because of a dispute between labor and management over whether the holidays were legally removed. It's a question of whether this provision of the Dills Act was violated.

The unions won the first round in Sacramento Superior Court. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger , the state's employer-in-chief at the time, appealed. Brown has kept the appeal going.

Click here to see the 3rd District Court of Appeal calendar of the case.

Here's the original verdict by Sacramento Judge Timothy Frawley that the administration is challenging:

January 4, 2013
Top 10 posts of 2012: Jerry Brown proposes 4-day work week

countdown 5.JPGThis is the latest in a series counting down this year's most-viewed State Worker blog posts, with a little hindsight analysis.

As Democratic candidate for governor in 2010, Jerry Brown said that state worker furloughs were a bad idea. But as a governor confronted with a $16 billion budget deficit in 2012, he offered up a modified version of the policy last summer -- a four-day, 38-hour work week that would cut state employees' pay by the same amount as one furlough day per month.

(The administration protested when media accounts used "furlough" to describe the short work-week plan.)

Critics noted that Utah saw workplace productivity drop off when state employees there went to a 4/10 weekly schedule. Others wondered how departments closed on Fridays or Mondays would do business with private businesses and other government entities that ran on a five-day work schedule. And what about months with five Mondays or Fridays?

Brown eventually worked out an unpaid personal leave day program -- don't call it a furlough program! -- with most state employee unions and imposed it on the holdouts.

Here's the breaking news post from May 14, ranking No. 5 on the State Worker's most-viewed items of 2012:
Jerry Brown's budget proposes longer days, shorter weeks for state workers.

January 3, 2013
Top 10 posts of 2012: SEIU Local 1000 agrees to furloughs

countdown 6.JPGThis is the latest in a series counting down this year's most-viewed State Worker blog posts, with a little hindsight analysis.

The 6th most-viewed State Worker blog post reported that SEIU Local 1000 and Gov. Jerry Brown had reached an agreement that cut one day's hours and pay per month for the final year of the union's contract.

In exchange, Local 1000 and Brown agreed to terminate student assistants and retired annuitants. Neither group is represented. The governor and the local also agreed to set up a task force on wasteful state outsourcing.

January 3, 2013
Top 10 posts of 2012: Unions blast pension reform legislation

countdown 7.JPGThis is the latest in a series counting down this year's most-viewed State Worker blog posts, with a little hindsight analysis.

The press event called by several public labor organizations convened in an upstairs conference room across from the Capitol with a single goal: Make it clear that the unions were angry about a pension reform bill on the verge of becoming law.

January 3, 2013
SEIU Local 1000 member demands more access to union records

Mariam Noujaim, the SEIU Local 1000 gadfly on a quest to publicize the union's staff expense records, says that her recent inspection of documents was so restricted that she is demanding another, longer look.

In a Dec. 28 letter to Paul Harris, Local 1000's chief counsel, Noujaim recounts the limits placed on her November examination of staff expense records:

During our recent audit attempt, you limited us to four (4) hours to inspect the records we were given. You also made certain that we had no skilled help to analyze what was given. We were not allowed to have a lawyer (much less a tax lawyer) or, an accountant, present (just SEIU members). Moreover, when we found something of interest, we could not make a copy or tell anyone what we found.

A Sacramento Superior Court judge signed off some limitations, such as how many people could review the records. Others conditions, however, were open to interpretation or left unspecified in court, such as the time allotted for the review.

January 2, 2013
Top 10 posts of 2012: U.S. Supreme Court rules against SEIU

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for countdown 8.JPGThis is the latest in a series counting down this year's most-viewed State Worker blog posts, with a little hindsight analysis.

In a year that saw government unions sustain losses in Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere, perhaps the biggest hit that a California public labor organization took in 2012 came out of Washington, D.C.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that SEIU Local 1000 didn't appropriately notify members and fair-share payers when it temporarily raised fees in 2005 and 2006. The 7-2 decision in Knox v. SEIU Local 1000 further defined the law requiring unions give nonmembers in closed-shop workplaces a chance to opt out of unexpected fee increases or special assessments.

The news of the court's decision was quickly drowned out a few days later by Local 1000's deal with Gov. Jerry Brown to accept furloughs for the last year of the union's contract.

Here is 2012's No. 8 State Worker blog post: U.S. Supreme Court rules against SEIU Local 1000 in fee case

December 18, 2012
California firefighters' political spending reflects grudge

Among the hundreds of campaign expenses incurred by the state firefighters' union political action committees this year, two relatively small line items reflect a grudge the organization has held for years.

The California Department of Forestry Firefighters Small Contributor PAC made 147 contributions to state and local candidate campaigns in 2012. It also made two independent expenditures totaling $10,500 to oppose Curt Stracener's bid to keep his El Dorado County Superior Court judgeship.

Before former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the bench in 2010, Stracener worked as a senior litigator for the administration who helped shape furlough strategy.

November 7, 2012
Now that Prop. 32 has lost and Prop. 30 has won, what next?

As we reported in the wee hours this morning, Proposition 32 has lost and Proposition 30, Jerry Brown's tax increase measure, has won.

When we asked State Worker blog users last week to forecast the votes on the politically linked measures, 34 percent of you correctly predicted the outcome.

Now here's a new question for you to ponder:


October 22, 2012
Unions remember state hospital employee killed two years ago

Thumbnail image for 121022 Donna Gross.JPGA union coalition of state hospital employees has scheduled observances around the state on Tuesday to remember Donna Gross, a psychiatric technican killed while on duty.

Locations for the 6 p.m. memorials include Napa State Hospital, where Gross worked. The events mark the two-year anniversary of her death at the hands of patient Jess Willard Massey. Massey is serving a 25 years-to-life sentence for the crime.

The 54-year-old's murder gave momentum to calls for heightened security at state mental hospitals and fostered the Safety Now! coalition. The group includes five unions with members working in California's mental hospitals: the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees Local 2620, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, the Union of America Physicians & Dentists and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association.

Here's more information about the statewide memorials.

PHOTO: Donna Gross / courtesy California Association of Psychiatric Technicians

October 22, 2012
From the notebook poll: CCPOA and other state employee unions

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our story in today's fiber/cyber Sacramento Bee about the shifting strategy of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association came from our observation that as of last week the union hadn't but any money into efforts to defeat Proposition 34, which would repeal California's death penalty, and Proposition 36, which softens the state's three-strikes law.

Subsequent conversations with several sources bolstered our sense that the union has shifted political gears away from influencing public opinion about big issues and expanding spending on prisons. Instead, it's focused on closer-to-ground concerns such as mitigating job losses and preserving members' benefits.

More broadly, when you think about CCPOA and other state public employee unions, how are they faring in these changing fiscal and political times?

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.

October 11, 2012
From the notebook: More about Washington's paycheck laws

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our report in today's Bee takes a look at the history of state laws that place limits on either the spending or the collection of payroll-deducted dues. We wanted to look back to see what California unions might do if Proposition 32 passes.

A significant part of the story looks at Washington state, where voters in 1992 passed the nation's first law to require that members of public-employee unions give annual written permission for their dues to be spent on political activities. A decade later, the state Legislature changed the law to require only a lifetime opt-in with annual employer notice of employees' right to opt out.

Here are some links for State Worker blog users who want to dive more deeply into the Washington law:

Information on Washington's 1992 Initiative 134.
Senate Bill 6713, the 2002 law that eased the member opt-in requirement.
A synopsis of the measure.

IMAGE: www.freeclipart.com

October 10, 2012
California teachers' union donations surpass $20 million to fight Prop. 32

The California Teachers' Association has given another $2 million to the No on Proposition 32 campaign over the last 10 days, bringing the union's total spending to fight the measure to more than $20 million.

That's 40 percent of the $50 million the No on 32 campaign has raised so far.

Tuesday's filings with the Secretary of State also show that several firefighter unions contributed about $140,000. The San Diego Firefighters Local 145 gave a little over half the total, $73,260.

October 9, 2012
Blog back: The NFL refs, government worker ratios; the Prop. 32 debate

Blog backs review your thoughtful and provocative online comments, amplify points, answer questions, correct our mistakes and humbly accept your warranted criticism.

As the campaign contributions pour into the campaigns supporting and opposing Proposition 32 in the final weeks before the Nov. 6 election, debate over the measure has heated up on The State Worker:

October 4, 2012
Column Extra: Three cheers for union workers!

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

Our column in today's Bee mentions a few lessons that public employees can draw from the events leading to the recent NFL labor agreement with the union that represents its referees. When you strip away the sports entertainment aspect of the story, what's left is a private-sector union representing 121 part-time entertainment regulators who have been earning an average $149,000 per year with pension benefits.

The public would be appalled with those terms in a public-sector union contract, but as the video below shows, football fans absolutely gushed when the refs' lockout ended last week. We assume that most didn't know the new deal increases referees' average annual pay by 38 percent over seven years, offset by a phase-out of defined benefit pensions. And if fans did know, would they care?

October 1, 2012
Jerry Brown vetoes bill aimed at arming California state hospital police

Thumbnail image for 120514 Jerry Brown budget presser Amezcua.jpgGov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a measure that would have required the state to establish a plan to allow hospital police officers to carry guns.

The director of the Department of State Hospitals sets the gun policy for a combined 800 facility police statewide. Currently, those officers cannot carry firearms while on duty.

Brown said in his veto message that the policy is "best left to the discretion of the department director who already has authority to arm its officers."

Earlier drafts of Assembly Bill 2623 by Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, would have simply authorized the officers to carry guns.

September 24, 2012
Unions contribute $3.48 million to anti-Proposition 32 campaign

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100806 ballot-box.jpgThe American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees contributed $1.5 million to defeat Proposition 32, part of $3.48 million given by labor unions and politicians within the last week.

The campaign supporting the campaign finance-reform initiative raised about one-tenth over the same period.

September 17, 2012
From the notebook: What California state workers pay in union dues and fees

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our story in today's fiber/cyber Bee mentions how much state workers paid in union dues and fair share fees for one month, December 2011: roughly $10.5 million.

What follows are three spreadsheets that lay out state workers' dues and fair share payments of that month, built from the state controller's payroll records. The first sheet details the number of employees by bargaining unit and their payments to their unions (it also pulls out numbers for the largest union, SEIU Local 1000). The second focuses on the percentage of dues and fair share fee payers in each unit. The third shows the regular pay and total pay by union.

August 27, 2012
Steinberg: Lawmakers consider cap on pensions, not hybrid

120827 Steinberg kitagaki jr 2012.JPGLawmakers charged with overhauling California's state and local public pension law are considering a plan to cap defined benefit pensions that would not include a second 401(k)-style component common in so-called "hybrid" retirement plans.

"There will be a cap," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, during a hallway press conference this afternoon with Capitol reporters. "I think what you will see tomorrow, there won't be a hybrid. ... It will just be a cap, for both miscellaneous and public safety workers."

Steinberg wouldn't divulge details such as where the cap would be set, a key figure that will establish how many of California's 2 million-plus public-sector state and local workers fall under the provision. He also cautioned that his comments this afternoon shouldn't be construed as a formal announcement. As of this afternoon, lawmakers were still hammering out specifics and no pension language had been released.

"This is not a deal," Steinberg said, "I'm telling you I'm confident there will be."

August 22, 2012
Republican Sen. Mimi Walters predicts pension legislation won't be 'comprehensive'


California Edition host Brad Pomerance recently opened his show with a 13-minute interview with state Sen. Mimi Walters discussing public employee pensions.

Walters is a member of the conference committee tasked with crafting pension legislation. State Senate and Assembly leaders have said they will come up with a bill before the current session closes at the end of this month.

Midway through the interview Pomerance asks, "Do you believe that we will see some form of pension reform in this legislative year?"

Walters: "I believe we will see a form of pension reform. Will it be comprehensive? No. Will it make major changes to the issues that we're facing wth pensions? No. I believe that this Legislature will do something to say, 'Hey we took care of a couple of the abuses and now let's hope this issue goes away.'"

Pomerance: "Is something better than nothing, or is nothing better? Because if you do something it won't address the real fundamental problem."

Walters: "My concern is if we just do a little something, it won't address the fundamental concerns that we're facing -- and the issue may very well go away."

A separate interview about voting rights and legislation starts at the 14-minute mark with Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles.

August 16, 2012
Column Extra: Read the California state engineers' furlough grievance

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

Our State Worker column in today's Bee notes that Professional Engineeers in California Government filed a grievance triggered by furloughs started in July. The union claims that the Brown administration violated the PECG contract by suggesting a 2012-13 budget that funds only 95 percent of their members' wages.

The then-Department of Personnel Administration (now dubbed the Department of Human Resources), said that the June 4 grievance was "premature" because it was filed before the July 1 start of furloughs so that no union members had suffered a loss.

The administration also said that Brown was acting in his role as governor in presenting a budget plan, not as the state's employer. Therefore, the administration said, Brown didn't violate the union's contract.

PECG attorney Gerald James asked for arbitration to keep the association's options open, but hasn't pushed the matter any further, union spokesman Ryan Endean said Wednesday.

PECG Jun4, 2012, furlough grievance and related correspondence

August 10, 2012
Unions kick in another $1.1 million to defeat Proposition 32

Service Employees International Union and labor organizations representing firefighters and pipe trades workers have given a combined $1.1 million to the campaign to defeat Proposition 32, according to state records.

SEIU's California State Council of Service Employees Issues Committee gave $500,000. California Professional Firefighters Ballot Issues Committee donated $350,000 and California State Pipe Trades Council of the United Association contributed $250,000. The contributions were reported Thursday.

The Nov. 6 ballot measure would ban unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. It would also ban direct campaign contributions by either interest group. Both sides would be able to continue funding independent expenditure campaigns as they do now.

Defeating Prop. 32 is the top priority for labor unions, which rely heavily on payroll-deducted member dues to build their campaign war chests. Corporations use other means, such as contributions from executives and funds from their company treasuries to play in politics.

120809 Union Contributions

August 9, 2012
Column Extra: California's state worker layoff process

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

Today's State Worker column references the complexity of the state's process for laying off employees. Using the flowchart below, we came up with 14 steps: three before a department announces a layoff and 11 steps during and after -- and that doesn't include what CalHR has to do.

The process is negotiated with unions. Here's a chart that lays it out, backed by nine pages of explanation:

August 9, 2012
Column Extra poll: Furloughs versus layoffs in California

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

Our State Worker column today looks at why state employee unions may agree to speed up the layoff process in exchange for a no-furlough guarantee when labor contract talks commence next year.

Clearly, the best scenario for state employees would be pay raises, not any sort of pay reduction. And state workers and the unions say the state needs to pay more attention to soaring outsourcing costs.

But if the state budget continues to struggle and Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature again force the unions to accept some sort of payroll cut in fiscal 2013-14 to help close another deficit, what's the least-bad solution?


August 6, 2012
Clock starts on deadline for Jerry Brown to appeal state worker furlough case

Thumbnail image for 100609 gavel.jpgGov. Jerry Brown must decide by the end of next month whether to keep fighting state engineers and scientists over a recent furlough lawsuit he lost or pay $12 million in back wages to settle accounts.

It's not clear whether Brown will appeal. California Department of Human Resources spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said this morning that state attorneys hadn't yet discussed the matter.

Brown's window to the appellate court closes 60 days from last Thursday, which was when attorneys for Professional Engineers in California Government and California Association of Professional Scientists filed the final paperwork in PECG v. Brown with Alameda Superior Court Judge Steven Brick.

In June, Brick ruled that some 13,000 PECG and CAPS members were excessively furloughed two days last year. He also decided that about 250 of the unions' members shouldn't have been furloughed at all.

Engineers stand to receive a total $10 million in back pay, said Ryan Endean, who speaks for both PECG and CAPS. Scientists would receive about $2 million total. An appeal by Brown would most likely put the payments on hold while the court fight continues.

IMAGE: www.yolocourts.ca.gov

August 3, 2012
California Teachers Association gives $7.5 million to No on 32

The California Teachers Association has ponied up $7.5 million to fight Proposition 32.

The November ballot measure prohibits the use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes, eliminating labor unions' primary way of raising money for campaigns and other political spending. It also bans direct campaign contributions by corporations and unions.

The contribution, reported Friday in a campaign finance filing on the secretary of state's website, brings the total raised by the opposition campaign this year to more than $16 million. The No on 32 committee reported having $6.5 million in the bank as of June 30, though that balance doesn't count this check or other contributions received in the last month.

Supporters of the measure, who say it will take special interest money out of politics, have raised more than $2.2 million to date. They ended June with a little more than $1 million in the bank.

August 3, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 hosts Proposition 32 phone session

SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker hosted a telephone town hall session this week about Proposition 32, the November ballot measure that would ban unions and corporations from contributing money directly to candidates.

In the phone session, Walker was joined by Trudy Schafer, a senior director of the League of Women Voters, to discuss the measure. Both groups oppose it.

Schafer said the League of Women Voters is against it because "it would appear to be campaign finance reform, but we believe that it is not reform, it is unbalanced and unfair."

Schafer said it will have no effect on Super PACs, and even though the bill bans corporations from contributing money to candidates, it does not prevent LLCs, limited partnerships and other 'big businesses' from doing so.

She said afterward that many union members had general questions about the measure, but she didn't hear any about payroll deductions. Proposition 32 would eliminate the use of payroll deductions to raise political money.

"Those who are familiar with the measure recognize that the payroll deductions for political purposes are voluntary," Schafer said.

She added that many union members give a small amount of money that, given alone, would not have a large impact but collectively has a larger effect - undercutting unions' political influence.

July 30, 2012
California Democratic Party takes 'no' stance on union dues measure

The California Democratic Party formalized its position on Proposition 32, voting at a weekend executive board meeting to oppose the November initiative.

The measure bans unions and corporations from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. It also bans direct campaign contributions by either interest group.

Defeating the measure on the general election ballot is seen as the top priority for labor unions, which rely heavily on payroll-deducted member dues to build their campaign war chests, and their Democratic allies.

"We have a real fight on our hands in California this year but Democrats are prepared to dig deep and work hard to win," California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said in a statement. "If Prop 32 were to pass, it would effectively silence the voice of working families at the ballot box while giving corporate interests and billionaire businessmen free rein to exert even more influence on our political system. We're not going to let that happen."

See where the California Democratic Party stands on the other ten measures slated for the November ballot over at our sister blog Capitol Alert.

July 26, 2012
From the notebook: Read the California state scientists' request to retain some student assistants

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our recent story on student assistants losing their state jobs mentioned that the California Association of Professional Scientists has taken issue with the decision to ax students who work with its members.

The terminations will hit Sept. 1 in keeping with terms reached between Gov. Jerry Brown and SEIU Local 1000. The agreement also says that the state won't hire any more student assistants as long as Local 1000-represented employees are on furlough through June 30, 2013.

Here's a July 12 letter from CAPS President David Miller to the Brown administration that lays out the union's concerns:

David Miller letter to Julie Chapman

July 23, 2012
Proposition 32 opponents blast measure as flawed, unfair

Leaders and activists representing good government advocates and labor organizations today officially lauched their fight against a campaign finance reform measure on the November ballot, depicting it as unfair and fatally flawed.

The measure, Proposition 32, eliminates payroll-deducted monies from use for political purposes by unions and corporations. It also bans campaign contributions by either interest group, although both could continue spending unlimited sums on independent expenditure efforts.

July 23, 2012
From the notebook: A student assistant comments on her impending layoff, tuition hikes and job prospects

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in today's Bee takes a closer look at the state's plan to ax hundreds of its student assistants at the end of next month, in keeping with a furlough agreement Gov. Jerry Brown reached with SEIU Local 1000 lastt month.

In the course of reporting, we talked to about a dozen students and corresponded via email with about the same number.

Here's one of those emails from Sacramento State student Heidi Temple. We're posting her words here unedited and with her permission. She was speaking for herself, not her colleagues, supervisors or her employer:

July 20, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 gives $500,000 to fight Proposition 32

SEIU Local 1000 has contributed $500,000 more to fight Proposition 32, the campaign-funding initiative, according to records filed Thursday with the state.

Local 1000's latest donation nearly doubled the $503,000 it previously donated to the cause, pushing its total contribution so far to just over $1 million.

Unions so far have given nearly $9 million to defeat the measure, which would ban money obtained via payroll deductions from being used for political purposes. The ban would extend to both unions and corporations, but it would clearly hurt labor interests more, since they receive nearly all of their political operating money from payroll deductions of their members' dues.

Corporations, on the other hand, draw most of their political funds from executive donations and company resources. Those kinds of business sources have donated a little over $4 million to support the measure, which goes before voters on Nov. 6.

Prop. 32 also bans both groups from donating directly to political campaigns, although it leaves room for unlimited spending on independent expenditure efforts to support or oppose politicians or political causes.

SEIU Local 1000 Contribution to No on 32 Campaign

July 20, 2012
Only about 5 percent of SEIU Local 1000 voted for furlough ratification

120508 Yvonne Walker 2008 brian baer.JPGAbout 5 percent of the 93,000 workers represented by SEIU Local 1000 voted for a recent agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown that included a new round of furloughs for one year.

According to union sources familiar with the June 27 vote, 7,223 members cast ballots. Local 1000 officials didn't respond to several requests to confirm or deny the number. On July 3 the unions did announce that 65.76 percent of the votes supported the agreement. That means 4,750 Local 1000 members supported the deal.

The side-letter ratification process was unusual for several reasons.

July 19, 2012
Column Extra: Arnold Schwarzenegger's pitch on banking leave

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

Today's column looks at the Parks Department leave scandal as a failure of management. In fact, if you talk to anyone who has looked at the issue of excessive state leave accrual, a common comment you'll hear is that it's primarily a management problem.

State policymakers have been talking about fixing it for years. Here's a proposal that the old Department of Personnel Administration made to SEIU Local 1000 back in 2005. The same proposal went out to all the unions that year, but it fell flat. The unions pointed out that the growing leave-balance problem was a management issue, not a rank-and-file problem. Managers pushed back. The idea fell flat.

Side note: The two sides did eventually agree that year on using a highest three-year average to calculate pensions for future hires.

Scroll down to Article 8 at the top of page 3:
DPA's 2005 bargaining proposals to SEIU Local 1000

July 13, 2012
Column Extra Part 2: How Gov. Jerry Brown would counter a furlough lawsuit

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgWith just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published each Thursday.

On Thursday, we looked at one way Professional Engineers in California Government might sue the state for imposing furloughs on its members and violating state and federal contract laws. The union hasn't committed to suing and has said it still hopes to work out an agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown for wage reductions.

But how would the state, specifically the Brown administration, defend the imposed furloughs?

July 12, 2012
Column Extra Part 1: Inside the legal argument against California state worker furloughs

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgWith just 400 to 450 words for our weekly State Worker column, much of what we learn each week never sees print. Column Extras give you some of the notes, the quotes and the observations that inform what's published each Thursday.

Our column in today's fiber/cyber Bee notes that for the first time since furloughs became a regular feature in state budgets three years ago, the government has imposed them on employees who are under contract.

Although Gov. Jerry Brown negotiated furloughs with 19 of the 21 bargaining units representing state workers, two haven't gone along: Professional Engineers in California Government (Unit 9) and International Union of Operating Engineers (Unit 13).

The governor has used authority bestowed on him by the Legislature to impose a one-day-per-month furlough on the holdouts. Now the questions are whether the either union will sue and what the basis of a lawsuit might be.

July 11, 2012
Jerry Brown administration issues furlough orders for holdout California state worker unions

blanning.jpegIt's official. Gov. Jerry Brown has accomplished what his predecessor couldn't: All state workers under the governor's authority are now furloughed.

Despite Brown's long-time criticism of furloughs as a bad business practice for the state, his Department of Human Resources (the former Department of Personnel Administration) last week issued a memo to government personnel officers detailing how to execute a 4.62-percent cut in the hours and pay for employees whose unions didn't negotiate a salary reduction with Brown.

The memo applies to about 11,000 state engineers in Bargaining Unit 9, most of whom work for Caltrans, and another 900 or so heavy machinery operators in Bargaining Unit 13.

Although the state's furlough memo applies retroactively to July 1, the Brown administration is still open to a negotiated reduction, said CalHR spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley.

"We've certainly left the door open," Jolley said.

Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government, said that the union is continuing to talk with the Brown administration. In the meantime, it has told members to comply with the furlough policy, even though PECG may later fight it in court.

"We've told them to take days off if they're told to," Blanning said. "Obey now, grieve later. Anything else would be insubordination."

Still, Blanning said, "We'd prefer to work it out."

July 10, 2012
Jerry Brown says California public pension reform won't be on November ballot

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 080811 Jerry Brown.JPGGov. Jerry Brown has backed away from his earlier call for legislators to put a pension-change measure on the November ballot, although the administration is continuing to push for statutory changes.

In an email to The State Worker, Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said, "There won't be pension changes on the November ballot. But we'll get the reforms done, you can count on that."

July 5, 2012
Budget ends furlough protections for State Compensation Insurance Fund employees

California's state attorney's union launched its furlough agreement ratification today. While it's 3,700 or so members ponder their vote, several hundred who work at the State Compensation Insurance Fund face a new reality: They're no longer protected from furloughs.

Lawyers representing the state attorneys' union and SEIU Local 1000 employees won several court cases that turned back furloughs and restored lost pay for employees at the self-sustaining fund by relying on a state law that protects them from "staff cutbacks." Nearly 8,000 State Fund workers were wrongly furloughed, the courts said.

This time around, however, things are different.

July 5, 2012
Column Extra poll: More state labor concessions down the road?

Today's State Worker column looks ahead at what accepting furloughs while under contract means for state employee unions next year.

Our conclusion: Unless voters approve Gov. Jerry Brown's tax hike on the November ballot, state employees will likely face more furloughs in the 2013-14 budget year. If the unions were willing to do it while under contract this year, how can they resist pay reductions next year when nearly all bargaining units' agreements expire July 1, 2 or 3, 2013?



July 5, 2012
From the notebook: More about the union furlough agreements

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Here are some interview quotes that didn't get into Tuesday's Sacramento Bee story on the SEIU Local 1000 ratification vote on the side-letter furlough deal with Gov. Jerry Brown:

July 3, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 members vote to accept furloughs

SEIU Local 1000 has announced that 65.76 percent of its members have approved a furlough agreement reached with Gov. Jerry Brown last month that assigns them them 12 unpaid days off over the fiscal year that started on Sunday.

The union announced the results on its website this morning, a day later than it had promised last week when it announced that members would have one day to vote at one of more than 80 polling places around the state. It did not release the raw tally of the votes in its announcement this morning.

"Because Local 1000 chose to negotiate with the governor rather than let our members be subject to imposed furloughs, we were able to achieve important solutions that went beyond a pay reduction in exchange for time off," Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said in a statement posted this morning on the union's website.

The agreement requires the state to purge its payroll of all student assistants and "non mission-critical" retired annuitants by Sept. 1. The state won't hire either again while Local 1000-covered workers are on furlough.

The deal also sets up a task force that will regularly review outsourced service contracts.

The vote affirms a cost-cutting move that the Brown administration estimates will save the state some $839 million, about $401 million of that payroll relief to the general fund. SEIU's agreement is key to achieving the savings because the union covers 93,000 employees, roughly half the state's unionized workforce.

Many state workers were angry when Brown figured those savings into his May budget revision, since they are under two- or three-year contracts that already included a year of furloughs and remain in effect through June of next year.

Some SEIU workers were particularly upset, thinking that Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker had privately assured Brown that she could deliver the pay cut. Walker said that she had suggested going to a four-day, 10-hours-per-day workweek which Brown "tweaked" to a 4/38 schedule. That essentially amounted to a two-hours-per-week furlough that reached the 5 percent pay cut the governor sought.

Eventually, Local 1000 negotiators pressed for a more conventional floating furlough day that cut state employees' monthly pay by nearly 5 percent but allowed some flexibility with when they took the time off. Several other unions had previously agreed to similar furloughs, including, for the first time, groups representing CHP officers and state fire fighters.

June 29, 2012
Mysterious website calls unions 'the new California bandits'

120619 Bandits.JPGA website of unknown origin has launched with a not-so-subtle invitation:

"LEARN THE TRUTH ABOUT THE SIX UNIONS THAT WANT TO RAISE YOUR TAXES AND KILL CALIFORNIA'S ECONOMIC RECOVERY!"

It's not clear who is behind the website. Bee Capitol Bureau colleague Torey Van Oot checked the registration for the site's domain name, thenewcaliforniabandits.com, which led to a Florida-based administrative contact, Domain Discreet Privacy Service.

The State Worker contacted California Republican Party spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns to see if the state GOP was behind the site.

"Nope, not us," Kerns said in an email. "I don't know who it is."

The anti-tax, anti-organized labor website blasts "the union plan" to raise taxes, calls out "union bosses" and publishes the pay of top officials for AFSCME, the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association, SEIU and the California Nurses Association.

The site gives similar treatment to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, which was formerly the California chapter of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). The libral and politically active group isn't a union but has strong ties with labor.

Visitors to the website are invited to "Report a bandit!" And, of course, there are the usual buttons to share the site via social media.

The State Worker is continuing to investigate the website's source.

June 27, 2012
State scientists reach furlough deal with Jerry Brown

The California Association of Professional Scientists reached a furlough deal this afternoon with Gov. Jerry Brown, leaving just four of the state's 21 bargaining units without an agreement.

The association, which represents some 2,500 state scientists, said it agreed to take 12 unpaid days off in the fiscal year starting July 1, resulting in a salary cut of nearly 5 percent.

"Too often in recent years, the dedicated scientists who serve the people of California have been asked to sacrifice to help balance the state budget.  This is another one of those times," CAPS President David Miller said in a prepared statement. "It's very painful and difficult for all of us.  But we sacrifice in hopes of a better future for everyone."

The agreement is similar to one tentatively accepted Saturday by the state's largest union, Service Employees International Union Local 1000.

June 26, 2012
Defining 'mission critical' retired annuitants in California's state workforce

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

So what's a "mission critical" retired annuitant, anyway?

We'll soon find out. As we've reported, the horse-trading between Gov. Jerry Brown and SEIU Local 1000 over furloughs included a mandate that departments purge their payrolls of RAs by Sept. 1. Only those deemed mission critical -- in other words, people whose departure would impair the normal function of the organization -- will be exempt.

June 25, 2012
Rumor of Highway Patrol pay deal spreads false info

chp badge.JPGA persistent rumor is wafting through state government that the California Association of Highway Patrolmen is pushing legislation that would reduce how much they contribute to their pensions.

While The State Worker loves a good pay-and-politics scandal as much as anybody, in this case the rumor is false.

Here's a recent email to The State Worker that succinctly explains the scuttlebutt we've been hearing:

June 25, 2012
Poll: Will SEIU Local 1000 members vote for a pay cut?

As reported here, SEIU Local 1000 will let members cast ballots on Wednesday to register where they stand on a new furlough agreement negotiated with Gov. Jerry Brown.

The results of the vote will be announced on July 2. How do you think it will turn out?

June 22, 2012
Jerry Brown reaches furlough deal with California state doctors, dentists

The Union of American Physician and Dentists has agreed to an 8-hours-per-month furlough for its members that will begin July 1.

The agreement covers roughly 1,800 doctors and dentists. The union has posted the details of the side letter that avoids reopening the union's full contract. Under the terms of the so-called "personal leave program," or PLP, the state deducts 4.62 percent of gross pay from each employee's monthly paycheck. They have some flexibility to schedule the time off, according to the union's summary of the agreement:

PLP 2012 must be used in the month in which it is earned. PLP 2012 shall be requested and used by the employee in the same manner as vacation or annual leave. If the employee has not submitted a PLP 2012 leave request by the 20th of the month in which PLP 2012 is accrued, the time shall be scheduled by his/her supervisor. When this is not operationally feasible, PLP 2012 shall be used before any other leave except sick leave.

That provision lines up with furlough deals recently accepted by other groups, including state fire fighters and Highway Patrol officers. UAPD is the sixth state employees' union to accept furloughs that will contribute to an estimated $839 million in payroll savings during the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Brown also agreed to create a Contracting Out Committee comprised of four UAPD representatives and four state officials. The "CoCo" will meet at least once every two months with an agenda to curb state job outsourcing.

The state's largest public employees' union, SEIU Local 1000, has been in talks with Brown for two weeks, but hasn't yet announced a furlough agreement.

Click here to open UAPD's summary of the side-letter deal.

June 21, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 reacts to U.S. Supreme Court decision

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgSEIU Local 1000 spokesman Jim Zamora emailed this statement to The State Worker in response to this morning's U.S. Supreme Court decision against the union in Knox v. SEIU Local 1000:

Unfortunately this decision continues the attack on the right of public sector workers to act collectively to impact their workplace on important issues However, we can make the narrow adjustments the court requires on our dues system.

It should be noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the right of corporations to put millions of dollars into the political system. Yet shareholders currently have no right to object to the spending of that money against their political or ideological beliefs.

The high court ruled that the union should have given nonmembers an immediate chance to object when it unexpectedly increased fees in 2005 to fight two ballot initiatives backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and to raise money for the upcoming 2006 election campaigns. The union said that the yearly opportunity workers have to opt out was sufficient.

RELATED POSTS
U.S. Supreme Court rules against SEIU Local 1000 in fee case
U.S. Supreme Court takes SEIU fee hike case
SEIU Local 1000 wins union fee case in 9th Circuit Court

IMAGE: www.yolocourts.ca.gov

June 21, 2012
U.S. Supreme Court rules against SEIU Local 1000 in fee case

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that SEIU Local 1000 didn't appropriately notify members and fair-share payers when it temporarily raised fees in 2005 and 2006.

The 7-2 decision released by the high court this morning in Knox v. SEIU Local 1000 means that unions must give nonmembers an immediate chance to opt out of unexpected fee increases or special assessments required of workers in closed-shop workplaces, such at California's state government.

The court said that Dianne Knox and other nonmembers represented by Local 1000 didn't receive the legally required notice in advance of a $12 million assessment the 93,000-state employee union charged them to raise money for the union's political fund.

In 2007, a district court ruled against the union and ordered refunds of the money with interest. San Francisco's 9th Circuit Court reversed that decision as "practically unworkable."

The high court said today that union opt-out fee policies "approach, if they do not cross, the limit of what the First Amendment can tolerate." Then this summary passage:

June 20, 2012
State worker calls on SEIU Local 1000 leaders to 'force the state to honor our contract'

Thumbnail image for 120130 Yvonne Walker 2008.JPGHere's an email from state employee Paul Warrick to SEIU Local 1000 leaders regarding the 5-percent pay reduction that union and Brown administration negotiators have been discussing since June 9.

Warrick cc'd The State Worker on Tuesday when he sent the email to Local 1000. With his permission, we're publishing it here, unedited:

Dear President Walker and SEIU 1000 Board Members,

Thousands of state workers are concerned that you won't stand up for us, and force the state to honor our contract. You need only mention the furloughs of the two years preceding our current contract, our increased contribution towards our retirement, the rare Unit 1 cost of living adjustments over the last decade- plus, and the scaling back of benefits for new employees to completely justify a firm stand.

We are sick and tired of the threats of layoffs. We don't want new employees to be laid off, but those of us who have been here for the long haul are weary of layoffs being characterized as our responsibility, when it is not.

Please don't act complicity with the Governor by continuing to further sacrifice our benefits and wages for political appearances aimed at persuading the electorate to support the Governor's tax increase in November.

When the Governor begins his campaign for the tax initiative, his recitation of cuts and concessions mentioned in the first paragraph above is more than sufficient to illustrate that rank and file state employees have done their fair share in these tough economic times.

Besides, the electorate are clamoring for pension reform, not more furloughs. They won't be impressed.

PHOTO: Yvonne Walker / Sacramento Bee 2008 file, Brian Baer

June 15, 2012
Correctional officers, firefighters, psych techs, Jerry Brown tentatively agree to furloughs

State firefighters, correctional officers and psychiatric technicians will take a 5 percent pay hit starting next month under agreements their unions reached Friday with Gov. Jerry Brown.

The news came at the end of a week that saw several unions engaged in intense negotiations with the administration over the wage reduction. The largest group, the 93,000-member SEIU Local 1000, had submitted a proposal to Brown but as of this afternoon had yet to finalize the deal.

The agreements with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the California Department of Forestry Firefighters and the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians all mirror a deal reached with the CHP officers' union last week. Under those terms, employees' pay is docked eight hours per month for one year, but the time can be taken later.

The deal with the firefighters marks the first time that group has been furloughed since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger launched the policy in February 2009.

Firefighters' union spokesman Terry McHale said that members have "given and continue to give" with budget hits to department staffing and equipment the last few years.

"We understand the tenor of the times," McHale said.

Spokesman JeVaughn Baker declined to talk specifics about CCPOA's deal with Brown until the union's leadership could evaluate it.


June 14, 2012
CA budget bill deletes state worker furlough language -- for now

Thumbnail image for assembly seal.gifThe Legislature's 2012-13 state budget proposal eliminates language that Gov. Jerry Brown proposed that would have allowed him to furlough or make other payroll-cutting moves against rank-and-file state workers if their unions refused to negotiate a 5 percent pay reduction.

The unions have been pushing Democrats in the Legislature to make the change, which strengthens their position in negotiations with the administration to cut a total $839 million from the state's payroll costs.

Lawmakers could make more language tweaks between now and Friday's budget deadline or later enact legislation that restores some or all of the authority Brown wanted.

The budget language indicates that Democrats are hoping that all the unions will negotiate payroll reductions for the coming budget year without legislative intervention. But just as the union's hand is strengthened at the bargaining table now, Brown's position is weakened. The unions, which all have current contracts, could view the watered-down bill as a reason to seek more at the table, give Brown less or refuse any pay-cut deal at all.

There's a question in this for Brown, too: How much does he want explicit authorization to enact payroll reductions if bargaining fails? Is he willing to veto a budget that fails to give him that leverage? Or is he certain that all the unions will accept a 5 percent pay reduction even if there's no imposed furlough threat backing him up?

Here's the pertinent language in Assembly Bill 1464 and Senate Bill 1004, which was released this morning. We've underlined the key phrase:

June 14, 2012
Column Extra: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's message to unions: 'Work it out.'


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 and the observations that inform what's published.

Today's State Worker column highlights the tension between labor unions and Democrats over whether the Legislature will confer furlough authority on Gov. Jerry Brown. At the end of the piece, we quote Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, weighing in on union talks with the governor over pay reductions.

The brief video above captures our question about the negotiations and Steinberg's remark at the very end of a Wednesday morning Capitol press conference on the budget.

June 14, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 waiting for Jerry Brown to respond to its furlough offer

SEIU Local 1000 has submitted a pay- and cost-reduction proposal to the Brown administration that includes flexible furloughs, but as of this morning has not received a response.

"Local 1000 has proposed that any reduction in pay would be in exchange for time off," the union said in an online statement. "Our proposal would maximize flexibility in how members take their time off."

The union also wants the administration to create a task force "with real authority to cut private contracting," and reduce the ranks of state retired annuitants and student assistants.

June 13, 2012
From the notebook: Read the 'lost' passages from California retired annuitants story

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Today's story about the costs and politics of how the state uses retired annuitants in today's Bee is the product of two days of number-crunching and interviews, most of which didn't see print.

That's often the case when reporting complex stories. Reporters and editors sift through what's known and written, making dozens of decisions about what to leave in and what to take out.

We made a decision to take out the following paragraphs from today's piece, concluding that they were probably number-heavy details that general readers either wouldn't easily follow or care about.

State Worker blog users, however, tend to be more knowledgeable about the fine details of state government and the bureaucracy. So rather deleting these paragraphs forever, we thought they would make for good blog item:

... Some agencies relied relatively little on retirees. The California Department of Transportation, the Highway Patrol and the State Compensation Insurance Fund spent less than 0.1 percent of total payroll last year on retired annuitants.

Others relied more on them. The departments of Mental Health, Water Resources and Social Services all spent at least 1.4 percent of their payroll on retired annuitants - twice the statewide average.

Among moderately-sized agencies, Department of Community Services and Development spent about 12 percent of its payroll on 42 retired annuitants in calendar 2011, 17 times the state average and the highest rate of any department.

Spokeswoman Rachel Arrezola attributed that to heavy workloads triggered by federal monitoring standards for how the department is spending $275 million in Recovery Act money received a few years ago.

"Given the increased federal requirements, CSD needed temporary support to meet the temporary workload," Arrezola said.

Before that, the department employed just 13 retirees and currently has 27, about one-third the number of its regular state-employee staff.

"Our Recovery Act program will wrap up in December," Arrezola said. "We'll reduce the department's temporary support accordingly."

RELATED POST:
Audit: State could lose $93 million in Recovery Act money

June 12, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 pushes for trade: furloughs for tougher outsourcing rules

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 080811 Jerry Brown.JPGSEIU Local 1000 negotiators resumed bargaining with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration this morning, and are seeking cuts in outsourcing and ending the use of retired annuitants and student employees as conditions to accept a pay reduction.

The union said in a memo to members on its website that negotiators also want "maximum flexibility" for employees to take unpaid time off to meet Brown's goal to cut workers' hours and pay by 5 percent. The governor has suggested achieving the savings by putting state workers into a four-day workweek schedule of 9.5 hours per day, but is open to alternatives.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown / 2010 Sacramento Bee file, Hector Amezcua

June 11, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker holds online meeting on bargaining, Jerry Brown's furlough

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Yvonne_Walker_small.jpgSEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker held an online town hall meeting on Saturday to discuss negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration over his proposal to cut employees' hours and pay by roughly 5 percent per month.

Formal talks started that day and continued Sunday. There's been no word on the status of the discussions or any agreement between the state's largest public employee's union and the administration.

In the following video, Walker says the union first proposed a four-day, 10-hours-per-day workweek, but that Brown's May budget revision give it a "twist": four 9.5-hour days.

Still, Walker gives Brown credit for including organized labor in his budget plans, for explaining to the unions why he wants $839 million in employee compensation cuts ($401 million from general fund wages) and for negotiating with the unions.

"I'm going to be honest with you. The 5 percent cut, that's real," Walker said, "But what's not real is how you get there. I think the bargaining teams have been spending a lot of time over this past week trying to get to that dollar amount in different ways."

June 11, 2012
Unions fire Internet blast at California ballot measure

The organized labor coalition fighting a November ballot measure that would end payroll-deducted money for political spending -- the channel through which unions raise funds to play in politics -- has launched a new video blasting the proposal.

The unions' message attacks the measure as an unfair idea that would put new limits on the influence of organizations that speak up for working people while exempting self-interested elites.

As we mentioned in our Sunday story on the battle ahead over the proposition, look for labor to continue connecting the words like "exempt" and "Wall Street" to tar the measure. Backers, meanwhile, will continue to insist that it's an even-handed proposal that would limit influence by both unions and corporations because it bans both sides from making direct contributions to candidates.

The measure does nothing to limit independent expenditure spending. Since unions raise political money through payroll deductions of their members and corporations spend money donated by executives or taken from company funds, the proposition would hit organized labor harder.

June 8, 2012
Unions meeting with Brown administration on 5 percent cut

Look for a series of announcements in the next few days from Gov. Jerry Brown and several bargaining units that they have reached agreements to reduce employees' compensation.

Brown proposed putting most state workers on 9.5-hour shifts four days per week and closing departments on either Fridays or Mondays. Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Marty Morgenstern has said that the administration wants the workweek furlough or equivalent cuts of 5 percent negotiated in time for scoring in the budget, which lawmakers must pass by June 15.

That doesn't leave much time.

SEIU Local 1000 is meeting with the administration Saturday. California Association of Psychiatric Technicians is meeting Tuesday. We've heard -- but haven't confirmed -- that other unions have already met with the administration and that deals with those groups will soon be announced.

June 8, 2012
State employees suggest alternatives to Jerry Brown's four-day-workweek furlough plan

The Association of California State Supervisors is running a poll on its website to gauge the popularity of various alternatives to Gov. Jerry Brown's four-day workweek proposal.

The Brown administration has said it will consider alternatives that accomplish the 5 percent cut in employee compensation costs the governor wants in the 2012-13 state budget, so ACSS asked its members for ideas and then used them for the online poll. The options include:

• Reinstituting the Personal Leave Program.
• Going to a one-day-per-month furlough.
• A five-day workweek with 7.5-hour shifts.
• Closing offices at 3 p.m. on Fridays.
• A 5 percent pay cut, working hours not impacted. (0.8 percent picked that option)
• Letting departments design their own savings plans.

June 7, 2012
UPDATE: 13,000 California state workers win back pay in furlough lawsuit

Editor's note, 5:51 p.m.: This post has been updated with a response from the Brown administration.
Editor's note, 2:40 p.m.: This post has been updated with a statement by CAPS President David Miller.

An Alameda County judge has ruled that state engineers and scientists are owed back wages because they were excessively furloughed last year.

The decision, which also includes a ruling to restore all the furlough wages withheld from a few hundred employees' paychecks, means some 13,000 workers could receive roughly $10.5 million in back pay. The payments would not affect the state's general fund, because the employees due the money are paid from special funds.

In an email to The State Worker, Department of Personnel Administration spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said, "We are evaluating the ruling and are likely to appeal."

The Superior Court decision affirms that "this was an Illegal act by Gov. Schwarzenegger that cheated employees," said Bruce Blanning, executive director of the engineers' union. "They're entitled to the money illegally withheld from them."

California Association of Professional Scientists President David Miller issued a statement, "The ruling proves what CAPS has contended all along: the Schwarzenegger furlough plan was misguided, didn't save money, and was illegal. We look forward to working with the Brown Administration to implement the decision and avoid illegal furloughs in the future."

It's worth noting, however, that the extra two days of furlough that make up the bulk of the back wages awarded in the unions' lawsuit occurred in April 2011, when Jerry Brown was governor. The Bee has contacted the administration, seeking comment on whether Brown will appeal. We'll update this post with the response.

June 4, 2012
From the notebook: More about the union challenge to Corrections' legal services contract

notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe can never get everything we learn into a news story. "From the notebook" posts give you some of the extra details behind the news.

Our story in today's fiber/cyber editions of The Bee includes a reference to a request for the State Personnel Board to review a $5 million legal services contract between a private law firm and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment filed the request and the board overturned the contract, albeit so late that the law firm will continue its work until the agreement expires on June 30.

Here's the paper trail:

CASE's Feb. 14 request that the State Personnel Board review the contract
CDCR's Mar. 23 response to the request for contract review
CASE's Mar. 30 reply to CDCR's response
The State Personnel Board's decision to disapprove the contract

June 1, 2012
Bill to arm California state hospital cops goes to Senate

AlanBarcelona.jpgA watered-down measure aimed at arming hospital police is now in the state Senate's hands after clearing the Assembly without opposition.

Assembly Bill 2623, authored by Santa Rosa Democratic Assemblyman Michael Allen, cleared the lower chamber on 71-0 vote Thursday.

The measure requires the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Developmental Services to develop a policy for arming state hospital peace officers are working outside the secure area of the hospital.

That's not much different than current law, which leaves it to the departments to decide whether those 800 or so cops can carry a weapon on the job. None do.

May 31, 2012
Final briefs filed in CCPOA lawsuit appeal; court hearing next

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100602 yolo county gavel.jpgThe final briefs have been filed in the Dawe v. Corrections USA case, signaling that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association appeal of a multimillion-dollar court decision against it is moving toward a hearing.

In 2010, CCPOA lost a federal defamation case brought by businessman Brian Dawe. Judge Lawrence Karlton, who heard the case in Sacramento and lowered a jury's $12 million award to $5 million, then ordered CCPOA to post property and cash as collateral during the appeal.

Attorney Dan Baxter, who represents Dawe, has cross-appealed Karlton's decision to reduce the award.

We expect that in the next few weeks the court will set a date for oral arguments to commence, probably in the last quarter of this year.

CCPOA is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the decision because the trial court, the union says, shouldn't have allowed consideration of "assertedly libelous statements that form the core of Plaintiffs' case and the basis for their multi-million dollar judgment."

The union also argues says that Karlton erred by changing a ruling that Dawe was a public figure. Public figures have to prove that a defamatory statement about them is made with "actual malice." In other words, to win a defamation lawsuit, public figures have to prove that whoever made the statement knew it was false or made it with reckless disregard for whether it was true.

And, CCPOA says, that even the reduced award is excessive, since it is more than the union's net worth.

The plaintiffs counter that Dawe was indeed libeled and that the union's net worth isn't a standard for setting awards. Besides, Dawe's filing says, CCPOA's net worth is more than it has claimed, since the association takes in nearly $30 million per year in dues from members and has a history of spending money on entertainment, property and executive travel, among other things.

We've embedded the final briefs filed by both sides, and you can read them by clicking the link below. Or you can download the files by clicking here for CCPOA's brief and here for Dawe's brief.

Note: The filings contain profane language.

May 24, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 to start pay cut talks with Jerry Brown

In a letter to members this afternoon, SEIU Local 1000 officials said that they are preparing to negotiate with Gov. Jerry Brown's administration early next month, spurred by his proposal to put state workers on a 4/9.5 workweek that would cut their hours and pay by 5 percent.

The chairs of Local 1000's nine bargaining units said that whatever concessions they negotiate will be put in a "side letter" agreement. That would avoid reopening the local's contracts.

Ahead of that, union officials are soliciting savings ideas to offer as alternatives to Brown's furloughs. Next week the local will conduct an online survey of members.

The union's bargaining team will review all of that information ahead of negotiations scheduled to start June 9. Whatever agreement is reached at the table will go to the rank and file for a ratification vote.

Here's the union's rationale for bargaining cuts:

"As the elected leaders of all nine bargaining units within Local 1000, we agreed that it's better to be aggressive participants in the effort to find solutions to achieve savings. We intend to be part of the action, not acted upon.

"We could have said 'no,' and demanded that the governor honor our contract. By staying engaged, we minimize the potential for a huge number of layoffs and even deeper cuts in vital services, like education and the programs that serve California's most needy."

Here's the entire letter:

May 22, 2012
Poll: Adopt Jerry Brown's workweek plan or return to personal leave program?

Why not just extend the personal leave program?

It's a question that we've heard often in the last week as we sifted through emails from several hundred state workers reacting to Gov. Jerry Brown's 4/9.5 furlough plan to cut their pay by 5 percent through a 2-hours-per-week furlough.

Most of the calls, comments and emails about the policy fall into one of four groups: workers who would love the three-day weekends, workers who think the policy is a betrayal of their contracts, those who hate losing the pay and workers who think the switch would harm state functions.

(As we reported earlier, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has some issues with Brown's workweek proposal.)

Then there's a fifth camp asking, why not simply return to giving state workers a floating unpaid day off each month? Departments already know how to manage it because of furloughs and the so-called "personal leave program" that was a provision in most of the latest union contracts.

So what do you think?

May 16, 2012
Darrell Steinberg: SEIU appreciates consultation on furloughs

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 110701 Steinberg Cap Bureau.JPGSenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, met with reporters today and talked about Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to furlough state workers two hours per week.

Brown's plan also lengthens the state workday to 9.5 hours and shortens the workweek to four days. The changes would reduce employees' hours and pay by 5 percent and save the general fund some $401 million ($839 million all funds).

On cooperation between the unions and the governor to come up with a plan:

Just look at the experience in the Schwarzenegger years. ... When they tried to do it unilaterally, what was the end result? Lawsuits, a lot of uncertainty. The better and best way to accomplish the needed savings is to work with the people affected, and that's already going on."

On SEIU Local 1000's position:

"It would be one thing if SEIU Local 1000 was saying hell no and fighting the governor, but they're not doing that. They're actually appreciating the fact that the administration has reached out to them and that they are being brought in."

On the impact to his district and his assessment of the governor's moves:

"It's certainly hard on a lot of my constituents, The process by which the administration is trying to get to that goal, the money goal, I think has been very constructive so far."

On how the issue will play for the November election:

"You want to go into November with as much solidarity as possible."

PHOTO: Darrell Steinberg / 2011 Sacramento Bee file, Hector Amezcua

May 15, 2012
From the notebook: More reactions to Jerry Brown's California workweek plan

Thumbnail image for notebook-thumb-216x184-9328.jpgWe never get all of what we learn into a news story, but this blog can give users the data, the notes and the quotes from the notebook that informed what was published.

Our story in today's Bee looks at Gov. Jerry Brown's prosposal to cut $401 million in general fund employee costs ($839 million all funds) by putting state employees on a 4/9.5 weekly furlough schedule.

We inerviewed several folks who didn't get into the final version of our story, including Bruce Blanning, executive director of the state's engineers' union and Tim Yeung, a Sacramento-based labor attorney.

Here are some highlights of our discussions with both men:

May 10, 2012
Union president says she told Jerry Brown: 'furloughs are off the table'

Thumbnail image for 120508 Yvonne Walker 2008 brian baer.JPGIn a memo to members today, SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said that she was consulted about Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to cut state employees' pay and that she drew a line at imposing unpaid time off on workers.

"First let me say that I have made it clear that furloughs are not on the table," Walker wrote.

She said that she has had several meetings with the administration and is continuing talks.

"Under the previous governor, our input was not sought, in fact, it was dismissed. Under Gov. Brown, we have a seat at the table," Walker's memo said. "We have offered our own proposals to deal with this crisis."

Among the suggestions: cutting private vendor contracts, eliminating the use of retired annuitants and, "if necessary, implementing a four-day, 40-hour work week."

PHOTO: Yvonne Walker / Sacramento Bee 2008, Brian Baer

May 9, 2012
Jerry Brown tells unions to brace for California state worker pay cuts

State workers' compensation is back on the budget chopping block.

Brown administration officials met with the state employee union leaders last week, according to sources familiar with the meetings, to warn them that the next version of the governor's budget will include an unspecified cut in employee costs up to 10 percent.

The administration in January estimated that California is confronting a $9.2 billion deficit through 2012-13, but a recent state analysis concluded the actual gap is considerably more.

The sources, who declined to talk on the record because the administration asked all involved to keep the discussions secret, said Brown told the unions he was seeking $750 million in state employee cost savings for fiscal 2012-13.

The sources said the Brown administration asked union leaders to come up with ways to make the reduction -- pay cuts or higher benefit contributions, for instance.

Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer said, "The governor has already indicated that more difficult reductions will be required," because the state's budget deficit has grown since Brown issued his first budget proposal in January.

"The details of those reductions will be detailed in the May Revision," Palmer said.

The governor could order wholesale layoffs, but the civil service process usually takes at least six months and the savings often fall short of expectations.

Furloughs are an option only if the Senate and Assembly authorize Brown to execute them, because the courts have ruled the policy falls under the Legislature's authority to set wages and working conditions. That seems unlikely, given the Democratic majority in the statehouse.

Other cost savings such as outright pay cuts, higher employee contributions to pension or health benefits, would need to be bargained.

Last month Brown recently extended the contracts of four unions with deals set to expire in July. Two of the extensions covering about a total 16,000 psychiatric technicians and operating engineers increased the state's health benefits costs 9.5 percent for those workers.

With the four extensions in place, the contracts covering roughly all 180,000 unionized state workers expire in July 2013.

Brown is set to deliver the budget revision on Monday.

May 8, 2012
SEIU Local 1000 president supports retirement for all

120508 Yvonne Walker 2008 brian baer.JPGRisky retirement plans aren't doing right by U.S. workers, SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker says in a CNN.com piece published today, and she thinks a California retirement-for-all bill is a "step in the right direction."

Walker's op-ed item refers to Senate Bill 1234, by Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, which would establish a state-administered retirement fund for private-sector workers. The article, which you can read here, also mentions that New York is talking about a similar plan.

"Part of what we aspire to as Americans is being able to stop working with our dreams and reasonable expectations of retirement still intact," Walker writes.

SB 1234 is scheduled for a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on May 14.

PHOTO: Yvonne Walker / Sacramento Bee 2008, Brian Baer

April 27, 2012
Firefighters, SEIU Local 1000 give $500,000 to fight ballot measure

California Professional Firefighters and SEIU Local 1000 recently donated a combined half-million dollars to the group combating a Nov. 6 ballot measure aimed at curbing unions' political power and banning direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

The California Professional Firefighters Independent Expenditures PAC donated $250,000 on April 11 and Local 1000 kicked in $252,762 a couple days later, according to a report filed this week with the state.

Local 1000 and the state council with which it's affiliated have given nearly $1.1 million since last summer. Professional Firefighters, between its independent expenditure committee and its ballot issues committee, has donated $800,000 over the past nine months. Contributions to defeat the measure now total $5.7 million.

Supporters raised about $2.9 million so far.

The proposal would stop unions and businesses from donating money directly to political candidates, although both groups could continue spending freely on independent expenditure campaigns.

Labor groups would have a harder time raising money for those independent campaigns, however, because the measure also eliminates payroll-deducted contributions, unions' primary means of raising money. Corporations couldn't use payroll deductions either, but they raise the bulk of their campaign money from checks written by top executives and shareholders.

April 27, 2012
Dr. Oz to promote state worker health in Sacramento next week

120427 Oz _Baer_2010.JPGTV host Dr. Mehmet Oz is among the speakers scheduled for a Monday press conference to unveil a new report on state workers' health and to promote a pilot state workplace wellness program.

Oz, whose self-titled show is among the most popular in day-time talk, will join SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, Controller John Chiang and others. They'll talk about the health study commissioned by Chiang's office, which looks at state active members in CalPERS, and explain the launch of the wellness initiative.

The news conference is one of several Sacramento appearances for Oz next week. It starts at 1:30 p.m. in the courtyard of the California Museum at 1020 O St. in Sacramento. The state is hosting the news conference in partnership with The California Endowment and HealthCorps, the nonprofit organization founded by Oz and his wife, Lisa Oz, to fight childhood obesity.

PHOTO: Dr. Mehmet Oz / Sacramento Bee 2010 file, Brian Baer

April 24, 2012
Analyst says some state worker contracts 'modestly' increase costs

The Legislative Analyst's Office figures that four union contracts that Gov. Jerry Brown has agreed to extend for one year will "maintain or modestly increase the state's costs for employee compensation."

The nonpartisan LAO looked at so-called "rollover agreements" with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (Bargaining Unit 16) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (Unit 19) and concluded that they don't cost the state more than the deals that expire in July.

The state's cost for employees covered by the International Union of Operating Engineers (Unit 12) and the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians (Unit 18), however, will grow by an estimated 9.5 percent due to increased health benefit costs. Those contracts have clauses requiring the state to cover increases in health coverage.

The contracts together cover roughly 24,000 state workers, including equipment operators, social service professionals, psychiatric technicians and doctors.

MOU Fiscal Analysis: Bargaining Units 12, 16, 18, and 19

April 9, 2012
Read the California state worker unions' contract extension letters

As we reported earlier today, four unions representing roughly 24,000 state workers have reached agreements with Gov. Jerry Brown to extend the terms of their current contracts, which are due to expire in a few months.

The agreements cover state employees in bargaining units 12 (skilled crafts workers), 16 (doctors and dentists), 18 (psychiatric technicians) and 19 (health and social services professionals).

Open a larger view of the contract extension letters embedded below by clicking the "full screen" button at the bottom of the document display.

Contract extentions for bargaining units 12, 16, 18 and 19

April 9, 2012
Poll: Why has hiring dropped off under Jerry Brown's watch?

As our story in today's Bee notes, state hiring fell 25 percent during the first year of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's administration when compared with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's last year in office.

But how much is Brown responsible? After all, the state still added more than 10,000 new full- and part-time employees in the first 14 months of his comeback third term. How much of the difference in numbers is a difference in leadership style, administrative savvy, political experience or bureaucratic cooperation?

Is is possible, for example, that Schwarzenegger's tough-on-state-workers policies (furloughs, attempts to withhold wages during budget stalemates, the campaign to roll back public pensions) prodded so many civil servants into retirement that his administration wound up hiring more than Brown?

Or has Brown, drawing on his many years in the public sector including two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983, simply done a better job of managing the state deficit -- and gained the bureaucracy's support to slow hiring in the process?

On The State Worker's Facebook page, retired state worker Mike Carbahal gave this opinion: "Schwarzenegger did not know what he was doing, nobody paid him or his programs much if any attention - Brown on the other hand does know what he is doing and is taken very seriously."

What do you think?

April 3, 2012
Are American state workers scourges or scapegoats?

Are state workers dragging down state budgets around the nation? Or have public employees and their compensation packages become convenient political scapegoats?

A year ago the PBS news show "Need to Know" took on what it calls "one of the most contentious arguments in the news today." We ran across the report this morning while surveying state worker news. Although the item ran on March 11, 2011, the topic remains relevant today.

Watch Union Salaries and State Budgets on PBS. See more from Need to Know.

March 30, 2012
Check out what IUOE Local 501 spent on political activities

This is the latest installment in a series of posts detailing political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of today, March 30, 2012.

The 12,000 or so skilled craftsmen, maintenance staff and equipment operators in Bargaining Unit 12 are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Craft Maintenance Division, California locals 3, 12, 39 and 501. Another 900 or so building maintenance and operations employees in Bargaining Unit 13 are represented by IUOE locals 39 and 501.

IUOE Local 501 reported about $30,000 cash in its PAC's bank as of this month. Since January 2011, it has spent $11,219 with roughly half that going to political contributions. The PAC reported no contributions in the 15-month period.

State employees in Units 12 and 13 make up a small part of the IUOE membership. Collectively, the four locals represent some 250 city, county, special districts, and schools bargaining units, according to the Unit 12 website, many of them outside of California. State workers are assigned to a local based on job class and geography.

As you look through the tables that follow, remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations received (usually from members) and donations made to political campaigns and causes. In some cases, tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheets open tables with more detailed information on the union's political spending.

To get a sense of similar spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org. The California data on that site run through December 2010.


March 26, 2012
Report says unions have big money advantage in politics

Here's one side of the argument you'll be hearing for the next seven months over the so-called "Stop Special Interest Money Now Act" the political-committee funding measure on the Nov. 7 ballot in California.

"DUES AND DEEP POCKETS: Public-Sector Unions' Money Machine," published by the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, argues that dues withheld by payroll deduction and paid directly to unions, along with rules that force employees to pay for representation even if they aren't members, gives labor "an abundant and reliable source of money, sparing unions the need to spend resources on recruitment, retention, and fund-raising."

Author Daniel DiSalvo says that means civil service unions have a serious advantage over other groups throwing elbows for government resources.

The Stop Special Interest Money Now Act would, among other things, prohibit use of payroll-deducted funds for political purposes by unions, corporations or government contractors. Employees could still contribute to employer or union committees, but they'd have to do it annually and in writing. (Click here to read the measure.)

California unions' will take a big revenue hit if voters approve the as-yet-to-be-numbered proposition, since labor relies on members' payroll deductions to raise money for political spending. Business interests don't.
DUES AND DEEP POCKETS: Public-Sector Unions' Money Machine

March 5, 2012
California's state operating engineers local spent more than $470,000 on political activities last year

This is the latest installment in a series of posts detailing the 2011 political spending by California state workers' unions. The records are downloaded from the California Secretary of State's office and reflect activity filed as of Jan. 31, 2012.

Editor's note, 12:25 p.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the total of IUOE Local 3's 2011 spending.

The 12,000 or so skilled craftsmen, maintenance staff and equipment operators in Bargaining Unit 12 are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Craft Maintenance Division, California locals 3, 12, 39 and 501.

This post focuses on IUOE Local 3, which spent $473,000 on political activities last year through 10 accounts reported to the Secretary of State. The largest account paid the local and the Operating Engineers General Fund a combined $176,000 for "reimbursement of salaries." Another $100,000 went to the California Democratic Party.

As you look through the tables that follow, remember that expenditures show everything a union PAC spent on political activities, including operating costs. Contributions pages break out donations received (usually from members) and donations made to political campaigns and causes. In some cases, tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheets open tables with more detailed information of the union's political spending.

Most of Local 3's accounts showed expenditures and political donations that matched exactly. For the few accounts that reported significant overhead, we totaled the expenditures and posted those figures on the first page of of the appropriate spreadsheets. We also totaled up contributions to recipients when the number of line items merited it.

The first sheet tallies each of the Local 3 accounts' expenses. Detailed spreadsheets for each account follow, starting with the largest, filer number 981697. (We've included a staff/spouse travel tab that shows the union paid $7,300 for airfare, lodging and meals.)

We'll soon post the data for the other three locals representing Unit 12.

To get a sense of similar spending in California by other interest groups, check out Maplight.org. The California data on that site run through December 2010.