The State Worker

When are those raises coming for state workers?

The union that represents state firefighters is one of the labor groups waiting for the Legislature to approve a new contract.
The union that represents state firefighters is one of the labor groups waiting for the Legislature to approve a new contract. Sacramento Bee file, 2015

State workers should count on about another month or so of waiting until they can start cashing checks for the bonuses and raises that they’re set to receive in the slate of labor agreements that Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration announced in December.

The agreements have cleared two Senate committees, and they should go to the full Senate within days.

There is no schedule yet for Assembly votes, but legislative staff members and union officials following the contracts say they should be ready for the governor in early March.

In the last weeks of 2016, the Brown administration reached labor agreements that cover about half the state’s workforce. In general, they’re three- and four-year agreements for a wide range of occupations, from firefighters to custodians and nurses.

About 96,000 employees represented by SEIU Local 1000 are due to receive $2,500 bonus checks when the labor agreements pass the Legislature and gain Brown’s signature.

“This agreement reflects a long struggle to get to this point,” SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Margarita Maldonado said to lawmakers at the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee this week. Her union called off a proposed strike just before it announced a labor agreement in early December.

Others would receive paychecks inflated by back-dated raises. The 6,300 medical employees represented by the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, for instance, have a 3 percent raise dated to July 1, 2016.

Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, is sponsoring the bill that would finalize the labor agreements. A handful of Republican senators have voted against the deals, citing their cost and a concern about expenses for retiree health care. In the next budget year, the agreements are expected to raise overall compensation by about $1 billion.

In selling the deals to lawmakers, some union representatives noted that they did not get everything they wanted from the Brown administration.

“We’re not thrilled; there’s more work to be done,” said Aaron Read, who represents Cal Fire Local 2881.

Adam Ashton: 916-321-1063, @Adam_Ashton. Sign up for state worker news alerts at sacbee.com/newsletters.

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