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About 120 disabled employees working at a state prison will be able to keep their jobs despite an outsourcing complaint from state government’s largest union that threatened their company’s contract.
PRIDE Industries, the contractor that employs the disabled workers, struck a compromise in the state budget that allows about half of its 217 employees at the California Health Care Facility in Stockton to continue working there. The rest of the janitorial jobs at the prison will become available as civil service positions.
The deal undoes part of an agreement that Service Employees International Union Local 1000 had reached with Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration to gradually phase out the PRIDE contract and hire state workers to provide janitorial services at the prison.
SEIU 1000 did not oppose finding civil service jobs for the PRIDE workers at the prison, but neither the union nor the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation could guarantee that the disabled employees would be hired.
PRIDE visited the Capitol several times over the past month, where they met with lawmakers and talked with reporters about how they struggled to find work until they joined the Roseville-based organization that provides job opportunities to disabled people.
"I would like to thank all of you at the state Capitol for helping us keep our jobs here at CHCF," PRIDE employee Anthony Grandon wrote in a message to The Sacramento Bee. "My coworkers and I are grateful that we still have our jobs here."
PRIDE went to work at the Stockton prison in 2016 after an audit concluded that sanitation was an urgent problem at a facility that houses ill inmates. SEIU 1000, which represents state custodians, successfully contested the contract, arguing that it violated protections against government outsourcing.
Republican lawmakers repeatedly spoke up for PRIDE in recent weeks. One of them, Assemblyman Kevin Kiley of Rocklin, tried to void the compromise in the waning moments of a four-hour budget conference committee hearing Friday night.
"It's quite shocking that we'd entertain the idea of replacing these folks with a politically favored interest group," he said. His measure to keep all of the jobs with PRIDE failed.
The new agreement in the budget is meant to ensure that PRIDE's disabled employees can keep their jobs, according to Brown's Department of Finance.
"We are happy the budget committee took into consideration the certain loss of jobs for people with disabilities if PRIDE were to be let go completely," PRIDE Vice President Don Nelson said, adding that the company would look for opportunities to work with state government.
The state Department of Technology stands to gain a little more power managing IT contracts under a provision tucked in the state budget.
Senate Bill 851, a budget trailer bill, shifts some authority for acquiring information technology contracts from the Department of General Services (DGS) to the Department of Technology (CDT).
Both departments fall under the Government Operations Agency. The departments consider the bill to be a "minor realignment" reflecting IT-oversight responsibilities that the Brown administration began handing to the Department of Technology in 2012.
DGS manages most state contracts, but CDT has a role in recommending best practices, tracking complicated projects and protecting the state's data. The budget would give CDT more of a say in choosing operations and maintenance contracts.
California state government has 23 ongoing, large-scale IT contracts with projected budgets approaching a total of $3 billion. The biggest single project is the $930 million Financial Information System for California, or FI$Cal.
The state budget includes a call for more oversight of that project, too, asking the state Finance Department to issue reports on changes to FI$Cal and costs of running the state's Vietnam-era payroll system.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
The Department of Public Health has a job fair scheduled for Friday, June 22 at 1500 Capitol Avenue. It'll include two seminars on how to apply for civil service jobs, which could help your private sector friends figure out the intricacies of landing a state job.
The department is recruiting program analysts, attorneys, medical officers, nutrition consultants, microbiologists, staff analysts and more.
To get more information, go to cdph.ca.gov/job fairs.
Links, links, links
Check out this tale from Fresno's ABC station, which caught up with Stephen Madrigal, the Covered California worker who received a state Medal of Valor for breaking up a knife fight on his way home from work one day.
For a deeper read, take a look at how Tesla is resisting a labor-backed provision slipped into last year's state budget that ties electric vehicle rebates to its workplace conditions.