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California state scientists get a pair of 5 percent raises in last deal with Jerry Brown

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California state scientists can lock in consecutive 5 percent raises in 2019 and 2020 if they accept a deal their union struck with Gov. Jerry Brown this week.

The proposed contract for the California Association of Professional Scientists would give the 3,400 employees it represents a 5 percent raise on July 1, 2019, and another 5 percent raise on July 1, 2020.

Those raises follow three consecutive 5 percent general wage increases that scientists received in their last contract.

State scientists have been pressing Brown to boost their pay because salary surveys show they tend to earn less money than their counterparts in federal and local government. This year, the union bought TV and radio ads that urged Brown to increase their pay.

“A lot of our members have felt underpaid over time when they compare themselves to people they work alongside,” CAPS Treasurer Stephanie Lewis said. “I believe in this agreement. I believe our last deal of 5-5-5 was a good first step. This is a good second step.”

The contract has a number of other perks for the union, such as:

  • A 3 percent wage increase for scientists whose job requires them to hold a doctorate degree. Scientists in positions that require master’s degrees would get a 2 percent bump.

  • An increase in special pay scientists receive when they are required to dive for work. The increases gets them $25 an hour for underwater assignments.

  • Overtime wages for toxicologists and veterinarians when they’re called to work on an emergency.

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Lewis said CAPS plan to hold workplace meetings to discuss the contract with members. They’ll vote on it next month, and the Legislature also must vote on it before it takes effect.

Three California state union contracts expired on July 1. Brown’s administration made deals this week with the scientists and with Professional Engineers in California Government. The California Association of Highway Patrolmen has not yet reached an agreement for a new contract.

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