Pay cuts ending for 28,000 Calif. COs

Deferred pay raises will also be restored for members of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association


By Wes Venteicher
The Sacramento Bee        

SACRAMENTO — Pay will be restored automatically for about 130,000 California state workers represented by two unions, while the rest of the workforce must wait for their unions to bargain new agreements over wage reductions all employees took last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.

Pay will be restored automatically for about 100,000 employees represented by SEIU Local 1000 and for about 28,000 people represented by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Newsom said.

Workers and union leaders have been calling upon Governor Gavin Newsom to restore pay since it became clear months ago that the state would have much more money in the budget than expected following the coronavirus pandemic.
Workers and union leaders have been calling upon Governor Gavin Newsom to restore pay since it became clear months ago that the state would have much more money in the budget than expected following the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo)

Most of the pay cuts were scheduled to last two years. Newsom's comments, combined with a written summary of his budget proposal and the unions' contract language, suggests pay for workers in the two unions will be restored on July 1. The budget summary says deferred pay raises also will be restored for the two unions.

All state employees accepted pay cuts through union-negotiated agreements last July, when projections from Newsom's administration showed the state could face a budget deficit of $54.3 billion in a recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The projections proved to be way off, and Newsom on Friday outlined his updated plan to spend a $76 billion surplus.

The plan doesn't include anything special for state workers — such as essential worker bonuses — that some had hoped for.

And the plan doesn't appear to accelerate the restoration of state workers' pay ahead of July 1, the beginning of the state's fiscal year. Many workers, along with some union leaders, have been calling on Newsom to restore pay since it became clear months ago that the state would have much more money than it anticipated.

Local 1000 has a provision in its pay cut agreement saying that if the state doesn't draw any money from its reserves to cover revenue shortfalls, pay cuts would end for its workers in fiscal year 2021-2022.

The correctional officers' union has a provision in its agreement saying that if any other groups of state employees get their pay restored before 2022, the officers' pay will be restored at the same time.

State workers' pay was reduced through a furlough-like personal leave program. Most workers took a base pay cut of 9.23% and received two flexible, bankable days off per month in exchange. To soften the hit to their pay, the state suspended the contributions employees normally make toward their retirement health care, which range from 1.4% to 4.6% of pay.

Local 1000's agreement says that in the absence of reserve fund spending, the leave program, known as PLP 2020, will end. That most likely means that as workers' pay is restored, they'll also have to resume contributions to their retirement health care. The union represents a broad swath of workers ranging from nurses to custodians to analysts.

All employees represented by Local 1000 were scheduled to receive a general salary increase of 2.5% on July 1, 2020 under the union's latest contract, while workers in about three dozen classifications were set to receive special raises of an additional 5%. The contract included another 2% general salary increase on July 1, 2021.

The leave program for correctional officers differed from the rest of the state's workforce. Officers took a 4.62% pay cut in exchange for 12 hours of personal leave program time and accepted the suspension of holiday pay for seven of 11 state holidays, along with other special pay suspensions.

The officers were scheduled to get a 3% raise in July 2020.

The rest of the state unions face a range of different circumstances. Some agreed to the leave program in side letters, while others included the program in their main contracts.

Three unions — the California Association of Professional Scientists, AFSCME and California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employment — are in negotiations with the state over contracts that expired in July 2020.

A group of maintenance workers represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers has begun negotiations over a contract that expires this summer, and Cal Fire Local 2881 will soon begin negotiations over a firefighter contract expiring this summer, according to the budget summary.
     
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