Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is tying up a glut of expired labor contracts as the year draws to a close.
Aside from reaching a tentative deal with the state’s biggest union, SEIU Local 1000, earlier this month, Brown’s team has struck tentative agreements with a union that represents 12,000 maintenance workers and another that advocates for 6,000 psychiatric technicians.
If all of the contracts are ratified by members and approved by the Legislature, the state would have just two outdated labor deals. That’s down from a peak of 14 that expired on July 1.
One new deal announced this week would give a 14 percent raise over three years to the maintenance workers and electricians in International Union of Operating Engineers.
For them, the new offer provides a bigger raise than a proposal they rejected in July. Many of its members also would receive special salary adjustments bumping up their pay by an additional 5 percent. Some heavy equipment mechanics and telecommunications technicians would gain as much as an extra 10 percent in special pay increases.
The contract is considered a five-year agreement because it’s backdated to July 1, 2015, when the union’s last labor agreement expired.
Another tentative contract would provide a 9 percent raise over three years to the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, who staff state hospitals and developmental centers. Its senior psychiatric technicians would gain an additional 3 percent and psychiatric technician instructors would get an extra 5 percent.
The union’s leaders say they gained some important quality-of-life perquisites for the technicians, such as a limit on mandatory overtime and a loosening of rules that will allow workers to trade shifts.
Ann Lyles, the chief negotiator for the psychiatric technicians, called this year’s contract talks the “most arduous” of her career.
“The money was never the huge issue for us, but they sweetened it a little in the end and that helped,” Lyles said. “It was all inching toward getting it done.”
One of the two unions without approved or tentative contracts represents social workers and a mix of other health care workers. It’s represented by AFSCME, and it had a bargaining session scheduled for Thursday.
The other unit, composed of doctors and dentists, has scheduled a bargaining session for next week. In late November, its president wrote a message contemplating whether the union should authorize a strike. Stuart Bussey, the union president, noted at the time that SEIU 1000 had announced a one-day strike and that other state unions had struggled at the bargaining table. SEIU 1000 canceled the strike three days before it was scheduled to take place.
Bussey wrote that the unions that authorized strikes seemed to strengthen their position.
“No individual or organization purposefully starts negotiating with confrontation or even veiled threats. But as in life, chess, or chicken, your opponent needs to see your spine before compromise is possible. Strikes seem to be in the air,” Bussey wrote.
All of the unions with new contracts have accepted Brown’s request that state employees begin to pay a portion of their salaries toward the health benefits they’ll use in retirement. Those contributions are designed to pay down a $74 billion unfunded liability that state Controller Betty Yee identified in January.
For the psychiatric technicians, the contribution rises to 4 percent over three years.
For members of the maintenance and electrician union, the contribution rises gradually from 1.5 percent on July 1, 2017, to 4.6 percent on July 1, 2020.
Workers represented by SEIU would start paying toward retiree health care at a rate of 1.2 percent on July, 1, 2018. The rate would climb to 2.3 percent on July 1, 2019, and peak at 3.5 percent on July 1, 2020.
The new contracts must be approved by union members and the Legislature. The unions say they’re scheduling votes for next month.
Special pay raises for IUOE members
A proposed contract for the International Union of Operating Engineers includes a 14 percent raise for all members between Jan. 1 and July 1, 2019.
These IUOE position would get additional raises of 5 percent on Jan. 1.
▪ Exhibit electronics technician, California Museum of Science and Industry
▪ Electrician supervisor (Only Range A)
▪ Electrician I and II
▪ Correctional facility electrician I, II and III
▪ Museum electrician electronics technician
▪ Correctional facility electronics technician
▪ Caltrans electronics specialist
▪ Caltrans electrician I and II
These IUOE positions would get an extra 5 percent on Jan. 1 and another 5 percent on July 1, 2017.
▪ Senior telecommunications technician
▪ Telecommunications technician
▪ Telecommunications technician trainee
▪ Caltrans heavy equipment mechanic
▪ Heavy equipment bodyworker/painter
▪ Lead heavy equipment bodyworker/painter
▪ Correctional facilities heavy equipment mechanic – lead worker
▪ Heavy equipment mechanic
These IUOE positions would get an additional 2 percent on July 1, 2017, 2 percent on July 1, 2018, and 1 percent on July 1, 2019
▪ Tree maintenance lead worker
▪ Tree maintenance worker
▪ Caltrans tree maintenance lead worker
▪ Caltrans tree maintenance worker
▪ Caltrans lead structural steel painter
▪ Structural steel painter
▪ Structural steel painter apprentice
▪ Plumber supervisor
▪ Correctional facilities plumber I, II and III
▪ Plumber I and II
▪ Correctional facilities locksmith I
▪ Locksmith I