The State Worker

California state scientists OK short-term contract with Gov. Brown

After rejecting Gov. Jerry Brown’s first contract offer, California’s state scientists have overwhelmingly approved a second deal with the administration, their union has announced.

The final tally of votes by members of California Association of Professional Scientists: 1,171 in favor (87 percent) and 177 opposed (13 percent). About one-half of the union’s members voted.

The vote tested the scientists’ solidarity and leadership, since the second contract offered less money – an immediate $1,000 bonus and a 3 percent raise next July – than the deal that two-thirds of voting members rejected just a few months ago.

The union has long sought much larger pay raises to close a considerable pay gap with state and local government workers who perform similar work. Union leaders promoted the just-ratified package to members with promises that taking the deal would restart talks with the Brown administration to decrease and reclassify the state scientists corps. That in turn, the union says, will open a pathway to higher pay.

The union and the administration are meeting today to begin those discussions.

“We look forward to working with Governor Brown in bringing important reforms to the state classification structure,” union bargaining chair Patty Velez said in an email to members, “and addressing the recruitment and retention needs of state scientists.”

The 3,000-member scientist union is the second group in the last two weeks to okay a labor agreement with the administration. State attorneys ratified an agreement at the end of August. Another union that rejected Brown’s first contract offer, the International Union of Operating Engineers, is expected to announce the vote for a second agreement early next week.