The State Worker

California’s ‘Vietnam era’ pay system delaying state worker wage hikes, union says

About 12,000 state maintenance workers are waiting to see the benefits of a contract they approved in January show up in their paychecks. Their union, International Union of Operating Engineers, has filed a grievance and sent a letter to the governor urging fixes to the state’s payroll system.
About 12,000 state maintenance workers are waiting to see the benefits of a contract they approved in January show up in their paychecks. Their union, International Union of Operating Engineers, has filed a grievance and sent a letter to the governor urging fixes to the state’s payroll system. hamezcua@sacbee.com

State maintenance workers who last saw a bump in their paychecks almost two years ago are nudging Gov. Jerry Brown to move faster in doling out wage increases that are due to them in a contract they approved four months ago.

The International Union of Operating Engineers filed a grievance with the state last month, contending wage increases for its 12,000 members have been delayed unfairly.

Its contract is back-dated to July 1, 2015 – when its last agreement expired – and it includes wage increases that will raise pay by at least 14 percent through July 1, 2019.

The union followed up with a letter to Brown on Tuesday that criticizes the state’s “Vietnam era” payroll system for occasionally slowing payments for workers who pull holiday shifts or overtime.

“It’s just a royal mess; our phones are lighting up,” said Steve Crouch, IUOE’s director of public employees.

The union is one of several that reached contracts with Brown’s administration in the last weeks of 2016. Collectively, they represent about 126,000 state workers.

Union members voted on the deals in January. Brown signed the contracts on March 15. Since then, state workers have been waiting to see their raises and bonuses reflected in their paychecks.

By this week, the 95,000 state workers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 1000 should receive bonuses that were promised in their contract, according to the State Controller’s Office.

“It’s taken us so long to get these bloody contracts done, and now they’re saying, ‘You’re going to have to wait until May or June to get your pay,” Crouch said.

The union’s broader concerns about the state payroll system are well documented. The Brown administration included an extra $3 million in its budget proposal for the State Controller’s Office this year, aiming to begin planning for a replacement payroll system.

That plan follows a 2013 decision to scrap a nine-year effort to build a new state payroll system. By then, the State Controller’s Office had canceled contracts with two different vendors because they had failed key tests in its development, according to a recent report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

“The state’s Vietnam era payroll system is on the verge of a complete collapse,” according the union’s letter. “Over the last twenty years, there have been numerous failed attempts to replace the outdated, antiquated system. Not a pay period goes by that our members don’t experience a delay in their pay.”

The controller’s office has not yet reviewed IUOE’s grievance, a spokeswoman for the department said.

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

  Comments