The State Worker

California judicial employees gain union rights with new law

SEIU Local 1000 sponsored a bill that will allow about 500 workers in the California Judicial Council to join a union. They had been banned from collective bargaining.
SEIU Local 1000 sponsored a bill that will allow about 500 workers in the California Judicial Council to join a union. They had been banned from collective bargaining. Sacramento Bee file photo, 2014

About 500 state judicial employees who had been banned from collective bargaining can vote to join a union under a new law Gov. Jerry Brown signed last weekend.

The law, by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, allows administrative employees of the California Judicial Council to join a union. Most of them work in San Francisco for the organization that sets policies for California courts.

The law gives Judicial Council employees the same bargaining rights that are granted to rank-and-file state workers, as well as to employees of California trial courts. Trial courts, such as Sacramento Superior Court, allow collective bargaining through local unions.

State government’s largest union, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, sponsored the bill. The union represents 96,000 workers, including ones in administrative and information technology positions that are common at the Judicial Council.

“Today is a great day for Judicial Council employees,” said SEIU 1000 President Yvonne Walker. “Every day more workers are choosing to come together in a union. They know that together we have the power to negotiate better wages, benefits and retirement security.”

Gov. Brown vetoed a similar bill last year, writing that “the state has no experience collective bargaining with employees from the third branch of government.” He wrote last year’s bill was not “ready to become law.”

The new version of Santiago’s bill spelled out how Judicial Council employees could petition to join a union and detailed a process for the department to work with a union.

A legislative analysis said the law could increase annual expenses for the Judicial Council in the “high hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

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

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