A small California state employee union decided on Thursday that a contract with two more consecutive years of 5 percent raises was too good to pass up in the waning months of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration.
The California Association of Professional Scientists approved the contract by a vote of 802 to 339. It will give about 3,400 state scientists a 5 percent raise on July 1, 2019 and another 5 percent raise on July 1, 2020.
State scientists have received a 5 percent general wage increase each year since 2016. A state salary survey that year reported that the state’s total compensation for environmental scientists was 34 percent below what their peers could earn in the private sector and 26 percent below what they could make working for the federal government.
The survey included pension and health benefits.
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At the time of the survey, average wages for state scientists were about $73,000 a year.
Leading up to the contract vote, some state scientists said they were frustrated that Brown’s contract offer did not close the wage gap more quickly. The state has not conducted a salary survey for their job classifications since 2016.
CAPS Treasurer Stephanie Lewis said the contract is “nothing to sneeze at.”
“You’re not going to get everything in one shot,” she said. “You have to do it in progression and it has to build over time. Nothing’s going to happen instantaneously.”