Calif. COs to get $5K bonus, raises in deal with Newsom administration

It also gives officers eight hours of leave per month for one year


By Wes Venteicher
The Sacramento Bee
        
SACRAMENTO — California state correctional officers will receive nearly $5,000 in pandemic bonuses plus extra paid time off in a new contract agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association agreement would restore a 3% raise for officers that was suspended last year, when Newsom and the Legislature cut state workers' pay in anticipation of a budget deficit.

It also would give officers an additional 2.58% raise in fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1, and another 2.5% raise in 2022, according to a summary of the agreement obtained by The Sacramento Bee. The agreement runs through June 2023.

The agreement between the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and Governor Gavin Newsom's administration was reached over the weekend. It must still be ratified by a member vote on June 30.
The agreement between the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and Governor Gavin Newsom's administration was reached over the weekend. It must still be ratified by a member vote on June 30. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The agreement provides two separate nonpensionable bonuses of $2,496 in 2021 and in 2022, identified as contributions to pandemic-related health and wellness costs.

It also gives officers eight hours of leave per month for one year starting in August, identified as wellness relief time off, that they must use by the end of July 2022.

"It's been a tough year for correctional officers," union president Glen Stailey said in an emailed statement provided by a spokesman on Tuesday. "We can't just Zoom in to work. We've been showing up day after day under difficult conditions, and it has been hard on our physical and mental health."

The agreement was reached over the weekend, according to the email.

The agreement says the state and the union will meet to discuss the potential for additional premium pay "when" the state and federal governments release guidelines regarding essential worker premium pay, and it provides a one-time opportunity to cash out up to 80 hours of leave in 2021.

The agreement undoes the 4.62% reduction officers took to their base pay in last year's personal leave program, and they will no longer get the 12 hours of paid leave they were receiving while their pay was cut.

Officers will have to resume contributions to their retirement health insurance, which were suspended while pay was cut.

The agreement also restores holiday pay and other miscellaneous pay items that were suspended as part of last year's pay cut deal.

The prison officers' deal is a three-year tentative contract agreement that requires a ratification vote from its 28,000 members by June 30.

State correctional officers have been exposed to the coronavirus in closer quarters than most other state employees as outbreaks have spread in the state's prisons. At the same time, many officers have refused vaccines. Among all California state prison employees, just under 50% have been vaccinated, according to a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation website.

Correctional officers' base pay averaged $87,782 in calendar year 2020 — among the highest in the nation. Each officer earned an additional $15,000 on average in overtime pay, according to figures from the Legislative Analyst's Office.

Employee compensation is a primary driver of California's spending on incarceration and rehabilitation, which is projected to reach $17 billion next year, when the corrections department is projected to spend an average of $112,000 per inmate for the year.

Costs are projected to climb despite announcements from Newsom that he will close two of the 35 prisons the state operates: Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy and California Correctional Center in Susanville.
     
(c)2021 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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