The State Worker

California state workers to receive raises in July

Most state workers will receive a raise July 1 under a determination announced Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown’s Department of Finance.

As part of Brown’s budget revision for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the department determined that the state will have enough money next year to cover its core responsibilities and pay for the raises. A majority of the 215,000-employee state workforce will see raises between 1.5 percent and 2 percent, adding $183.7 million to the state’s payroll cost for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Brown last year negotiated contracts with several unions that provide raises of up to 4.5 percent phased in over two years or deferred entirely to the 2015-16 fiscal year. The agreements’ “trigger” provisions left it to Finance Director Michael Cohen to determine whether the state could meet its essential obligations and increase pay in the coming year.

Since then, state’s recovering economy and higher tax rates triggered by Proposition 30 brightened the state’s budget picture so much that union leaders expected Brown’s revised budget proposal to call for the earlier pay-raise scenario.

“We saw the revenue numbers come out month by month, and they were better than the governor’s projections,” said Coby Pizzotti, a lobbyist for the state psychiatric technicians’ union. “We got the feeling it was looking good for the July 1 raises to kick in.”

About 130,000 unionized employees are affected by the department’s finding, which also triggers a 2 percent pay raise in July for about 20,000 nonunion employees such as managers.

For most of the state’s government workers, the July raises would be the first in many years without some sort of offsetting provision. The psychiatric technicians’ 2007 contract, for example, was the last that raised members’ pay across the board without also hiking what employees contribute to their pensions.

Despite Tuesday’s budget news, some state workers aren’t due for raises this summer. California’s prison officers negotiated a 4 percent raise that starts Jan. 1 and the civil engineers’ union agreed to a 3.3 percent bump that starts July 1, 2015.

Unions for state scientists and attorneys still haven’t reached contracts with Brown because they’re deadlocked over pay.

A third holdout group, the International Union of Operating Engineers Unit 13, late last week reached a tentative agreement that includes a July 1 raise for its 900 members, the Brown administration said Tuesday. The union did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

State firefighters are excluded from Brown’s pay raise proposal, as their four-year contract doesn’t provide for salary increases. And California Highway Patrol officers’ pay rate is adjusted annually by statute, not at the bargaining table.

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