The State Worker

State workers: Raises and bonuses are coming, slowly

Cal Fire firefighters are among the state workers who will receive raises under a package of labor agreements that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week.
Cal Fire firefighters are among the state workers who will receive raises under a package of labor agreements that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this week. Sacramento Bee file

Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed a package of labor contracts that will give raises and bonuses to about half of the state’s workforce, but many employees might not see a difference in their paychecks until May at the earliest.

Brown signed deals that his staff negotiated late last year and in January to resolve expired contracts for about 126,000 employees.

Workers represented by state government’s biggest union, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, are due to receive bonuses worth $2,500.

Taryn Kinney, a spokeswoman for the State Controller’s office, said it’s unlikely that the checks will be issued in April. The Controller’s office will begin the process of issuing the checks after it receives an order from the state Human Resources department.

Employees represented by SEIU also start getting raises on July 1. The 42-month agreement includes a series of wage increases worth 11.5 percent for all SEIU workers, and additional raises for employees in certain job classifications such as vocational nurses, CalPERS actuaries and custodians.

Members of other unions will see inflated paychecks soon because their contracts include back-dated raises to July 1, 2016 or Jan. 1.

Gov. Jerry Brown, reacting on Dec. 5, 2016 to a tentative contract for California's largest state worker union, said the administration must be prudent.

Labor groups with those contracts include maintenance workers in the International Union of Operating Engineers, the union that represents Cal Fire firefighters, the California Association of Psychiatric Technicians and the health and social workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The contracts are expected to cost about $600 million in the current budget year that ends on June 30, according to the Legislative Analysts Office.

Most of the contracts last about four years. In the next budget year, increased compensation for employees covered by the contracts is expected to swell spending by $917 million, rising to $2 billion in additional compensation by the 2020-21 budget year.

The contracts include new paycheck deductions for state workers that are intended to offset the costs of the health care they’ll use in retirement.

The deals also introduce a new leave cash out program. Employees will be allowed to cash out up to 80 hours of unused vacation every year.

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

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