The largest state employee union will negotiate with Gov. Jerry Brown early next month, spurred by his proposal to put state workers on a shortened workweek that would cut their pay 5 percent.
The chairs of SEIU Local 1000's nine bargaining units said in a letter Thursday that whatever concessions they negotiate will be put in a "side letter" agreement. That would avoid reopening the local's contracts.
Brown has proposed shifting state workers to a four-day, 38-hour workweek.
In the letter, the leaders said they decided " that it's better to be aggressive participants in the effort to find solutions to achieve savings."
"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."
Union officials also are soliciting savings ideas to offer as alternatives to Brown's furloughs. According to the letter, the union has received more than 1,000 "cost-saving suggestions" from its members. 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.