The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

March 17, 2009
No SEIU deal offered for scientists, union reports

We asked last week whether the tentative agreement SEIU Local 1000 reached with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration is the ceiling or the floor for the other unions now hammering out their own deals. Can the other bargaining units do better? Or is the SEIU contract as good as it gets?

The California Association of Professional Scientists says that its negotiators didn't get a Local 1000-type offer when they met with DPA last week, according a members-only e-mail. A CAPS member forwarded the e-mail to The State Worker; we confirmed its authenticity with a union official.

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met Wednesday with negotiators from the Governor's Department of Personnel Administration and several state departments which employ scientists. This lengthy meeting was most notable for what didn't happen, rather than what did. What didn't happen was that DPA didn't offer CAPS a comprehensive proposal similar to the one recently agreed to by SEIU. What did happen was that DPA verbally told CAPS that it wouldn't be offered the same elements of the SEIU agreement.

Rather, any such agreement with CAPS would not include layoff protections, the two floating holidays to replace Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday, or any language that would guarantee a reopening of negotiations in the event that DPA reached a better agreement with another union. In other words, Governor Schwarzenegger's DPA failed to present CAPS with any written proposal regarding a furlough program, and said that when it does, that proposal will not include several key elements from the SEIU agreement. CAPS has insisted that DPA present firm written proposals no later than the next scheduled meeting, April 2.

CAPS Proposals. CAPS presented proposals of its own. First, CAPS proposed a new "golden handshake" early retirement incentive proposal which would grant any state scientist who is eligible to retire two years of service and two years of age credit to encourage retirement on or before September 30, 2009. Second, CAPS proposed expansion of the voluntary personal leave program to enable scientists to increase participation in the voluntary personal leave program. Both proposals can be viewed on the CAPS webpage here: http://www.capsscientists.org/Bargaining-Proposals.htm

The CAPS proposals are another effort by CAPS to suggest ways other than mandatory unpaid furloughs to save state money. The state's negotiators took the CAPS proposals under submission.

Regarding surplus notices, the official position of DPA is that no surplus notices are being withdrawn. CAPS has learned, however, that some state departments refused to issue surplus notices in the first place, and other departments have either withdrawn the notices or told employees that layoffs in their department will be unnecessary.

With nearly 80 percent of Unit 10 Scientists being funded by special and not general funds, it is no surprise that layoffs are very unlikely in Unit 10.

The CAPS Team next meets with DPA on April 2. Thanks for your continued support.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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