The State Worker

Gavin Newsom made deals with four state unions. One is getting ready to hold out for more

Gov. Gavin Newsom on state worker contracts

Gov. Gavin Newsom talks about state worker contracts during his budget proposal on Jan. 10, 2019.
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Gov. Gavin Newsom talks about state worker contracts during his budget proposal on Jan. 10, 2019.

California state attorneys are prepared to keep working without a contract because they’re unimpressed with an offer from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.

The stalled negotiations for the California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment contrasts with other contract deals the Newsom administration has recently reached with four other state unions.

Union President Peter Flores in a Tuesday message to members said the state’s offer of a 7.5 percent raise spread out over three years isn’t enough to close the gap between their pay and what their counterparts in local and federal government earn.

“Without some movement by CalHR away from their current regressive, hardline stance we will be forced to hold out rather than accept a contract that actually makes our members worse off than they are today,” Flores said in the email.

A CalHR spokesman said the department doesn’t comment on ongoing contract negotiations. The attorneys’ union didn’t respond to an interview request. The bargaining update was provided to The Bee anonymously.

The 4,200-member attorneys union is one of six state unions that have been working under expired contracts for two months or more.

Most of the contracts expired around the beginning of July. Four of the unions recently announced tentative agreements with the administration, which would give most workers general salary increases in the range of 3 percent per year plus various larger raises to boost hiring and retention for certain classifications.

The agreements require approval from the Legislature, which will adjourn for fall recess Sept. 13.

The state’s most recent offer to the legal union included a 2.5 percent raise each year for three years, with an option for the state to defer the third year’s raise for a year.

Flores said in the update that the increase would leave the starting salary for a state attorney $33,000 below the starting salary for a Sacramento County attorney and $44,000 below the starting salary in the city and county of San Francisco.

A CalHR salary survey from 2017 showed state attorneys’ total compensation lagged their local counterparts by 10 percent, the private sector by 38 percent and federal attorneys by 2 percent.

If the state were to exercise the option to delay the third-year raise, it would effectively reduce the annual raises to 1.875 percent per year, which could drop another .5 percent if the state exercised its option to increase retiree health care contributions, Flores said in the update.

“These rock bottom raises would not even keep up with inflation and would only worsen our salary crisis,” Flores said.

The union’s last contract had a three-year term that ended in July. The union received a cumulative general salary increase of 14 percent over the three years while paying more toward retiree health care benefits.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association each reached tentative agreements over the last two months.

The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians’ contract expired in July, but it has not yet reached a new agreement.

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Wes Venteicher anchors The Bee’s popular State Worker coverage in the newspaper’s Capitol Bureau. He covers taxes, pensions, unions, state spending and California government. A Montana native, he reported on health care and politics in Chicago and Pittsburgh before joining The Bee in 2018.
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