Negotiators for the Schwarzenegger Administration have signed a new labor contract with a key group of mental health workers, ending an 18-month bargaining stalemate that began under the prior administration.
The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, which represents 7,100 nursing professionals employed in State mental hospitals, developmental centers, and prisons, had been working without a contract since July 2003.
"This Administration places a priority on mental health services and attracting and retaining the nursing staff we need to deliver those services," said Michael T. Navarro, director of the Department of Personnel Administration, which negotiates contracts on behalf of the Governor.
Under the new contract, the State will raise salaries for psychiatric technicians by 5 percent. Half of the increase will be retroactive to Aug. 1, 2004; the other half would take effect Jan. 1, 2001-2004. The annual cost of the raise is $14.1 million.
A shortage of personnel in the health care field, particularly in the nursing professions, has made it necessary for the State to raise salaries in this area. In August, State-employed registered nurses received a 5 percent raise as part of the 2004-05 State Budget Act.
The agreement also includes Administration proposals to rein in the soaring costs of health benefits and overtime. Health benefits will be based on a flat-dollar amount, rather than the percentage-driven formula instituted by the prior administration for most employees. Overtime calculations will not count sick leave as "time worked," another departure from a practice begun under the previous administration that has proven costly.
The Administration also negotiated a "re-opener" clause that allows it to renegotiate salaries, health and retirement benefits, overtime, and leave time provisions. "Our goal at the bargaining table is not only to be fair to the employee but also fiscally responsible, which is why we built flexibility into this contract," said Navarro. "Either party - the State employer or the union - has the right to revisit key provisions if the State's fiscal circumstances change."
The agreement, which would run until June 30, 2006, must be ratified by the Legislature and union members before it can be implemented.
State negotiators today announced a tentative agreement with the California Association of Highway Patrolmen (CAHP) on savings from the union's current contract. The savings total $32.2 million over the next two fiscal years.
The savings result from the union agreeing to extend the mandatory "personal leave program" (PLP) by which officers forgo 5 percent of their pay in return for an extra day of leave each month. Under the revised agreement, mandatory PLP, which was scheduled to end July 1, 2004, will extend through December 31, 2004. This six-month deferral of salary saves the State $13.7 million in the current fiscal year.
Another $18.5 million will be saved in 2001-2004-06 by converting how the officers are compensated for the extra half hour they are required to work each day in addition to their regular eight-hour shift. Effective July 1, 2001-2004, officers will receive regular pay for this extra half hour instead of premium pay (premium pay is equal to time-and-a-half). In return, officers will receive additional compensating time-off for State holidays and one additional hour of vacation time each month.
In another provision of the revised agreement, the State will modify the current Rural Health Care Equity Program benefit from a reimbursement-based system to a supplemental health stipend. This program, which has been in place since 1999, is for State employees living in rural areas that don't offer an HMO option as part of their health plan. Converting to a monthly stipend is more efficient for the State than processing reimbursement claims for eligible expenses.
The current CAHP contract was originally negotiated in 2001. It expires July 2, 2006. Changes announced today are subject to ratification by the Legislature and union members.
Sacramento, July 1, 2004
The Department of Personnel Administration announced today that it has reached agreement with the correctional officers union over wage concessions saving the State $108 million over the next two years.
"Our agreement with the correctional officers provides much-needed relief to California's budget," said DPA Director Michael T. Navarro. "We commend the union for its cooperation in helping us achieve the twin goals of fiscal responsibility and good-faith bargaining."
State correctional officers, whose current contract was negotiated in 2001, were due to receive a 10.9 percent pay raise July 1, 2004. Under the agreement with Governor Schwarzenegger, 5 percent of that raise will be delayed until January 1, 2001-2004, and 0.9 percent will be delayed until June 30, 2006. The contract expires July 2, 2006.
The agreement by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association to accept a smaller raise for the first six months of the fiscal year will reduce the contract's cost by $63 million in 2004-05. Deferring the remainder of the increase until 2006 cuts an additional $20 million of the contract's cost in 2001-2004-06. In addition, the State will reduce its contribution to the officers' deferred compensation fund in 2001-2004-06, lowering the contract's cost by another $25 million.
In return for CCPOA's agreement to delay salary increases, DPA agreed to a handful of other contract changes with a combined 2-year cost of $1.8 million. One such change allows the union's chapter presidents, who work at State correctional facilities, a day of paid leave each week to work on-site to resolve employee grievances, and be prepared to respond to emergencies if the need arises. The agreement also provides one-time assistance payments to employees displaced by the closure of three Youth Authority institutions.
Under other provisions of the agreement, Corrections management is granted greater flexibility to shift personnel between Youth Authority and Department of Corrections. This change would mitigate the impact of layoffs in the event they become necessary. Layoffs would not be implemented at the Department of Corrections unless the State's inmate population drops more than 6 percent by January 1, 2006.
The State also agreed to establish a training program in partnership with local community colleges to offer instruction in subjects important to correctional officers, such as report writing and controlling blood-borne pathogens.
Rural health issues were also addressed in the agreement. The State will continue the rural health subsidy program through July 2, 2006, and modify it from a reimbursement-based system to a supplemental health payment system for eligible employees and their dependents. In addition, the State will support an effort undertaken by CCPOA and the California Public Employees Retirement System to develop local health care options for employees and retirees in California's rural areas.
CCPOA and the State agreed to study an existing inmate education program at San Quentin to measure its impact on the recidivism rate. If it proves worthwhile, the program may be expanded to other institutions.
Before this agreement can take effect, it requires ratification by the Legislature and union members. Once ratified by the Legislature, the salary provisions would be appropriated for the duration of the contract.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proclaimed Friday, June 11, 2004, as a special Day of Remembrance to honor President Ronald Reagan.
In conjunction with this observance, the Governor has authorized 8 hours of informal time off (ITO) to full-time State employees. Departments must schedule staffing consistent with their business needs to ensure all necessary services continue to be available to the public on this day.
Employees who are required to work on Friday, June 11, or who would otherwise be scheduled to work but are off that day, may use the ITO at a later date.
We don't anticipate interruptions in benefits at this time, so there's currently no need for you to take any action to ensure continuation of your benefits. However, depending on how long the budget delay lasts, the State may need to make special arrangements with the providers of our employee benefit programs to maintain uninterrupted services. We'll post new information on this page if the situation changes.
SPP contributions will not be credited to your account for any month that your paycheck is delayed. The State will credit missed contributions once the State budget is enacted and your paycheck is issued. SPP contributions will be effective on the date the paycheck is issued.
If your payments are normally paid via paycheck deduction you should discuss the situation directly with your lender, since no paycheck also means no deductions. (This does not apply to automatic payments from your own bank account.) Keep in mind that once there's a budget and your paycheck is issued, all your normal deductions will be made retroactively. This could result in duplicate loan payments unless you make special arrangements with your lender.
A delay in your paycheck does not affect retirement, sick leave, vacation, etc. You continue to accrue your normal service credit.
Many banking institutions have offered financial assistance for State employees whose paycheck is delayed by the budget impasse. Check directly with your bank or credit union for details. The following institutions have provided information to DPA regarding such assistance. As we receive information from other institutions, we'll add it to this page.
Golden 1 Credit Union
Schools Credit Union
Constitutional officers and exempt appointees with direct deposit should contact their branch to arrange for a payroll advance.
Some employees of the State of California may be experiencing emotional aftershocks (or stress reactions) following the events that occurred Sept. 11, 2001, in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania.
Such reactions are not uncommon following a traumatic event, whether you were directly involved or know someone who was affected. Symptoms may include difficulty concentrating at work or feelings of anxiety. Professional assistance from a counselor may be helpful.
As a State of California employee, you can take advantage of the State's Employee Assistance Program for short-term counseling to help you cope with this situation. The program is available by phone, or you can meet with a counselor in your area. Here's how it works.
Special services also are available to State of California departments that believe there is an immediate need for psychological support for a large number of their employees. Called "Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD)," these services can be provided at the work site in either group or individual settings. Supervisors or managers should contact their departmental EAP Coordinator if they believe CISD services should be arranged for their employees.
The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) issued a complaint alleging that the California State Employees Association (CSEA) acted unlawfully when it unilaterally changed its practice of permitting various union officials to authorize union leave. The complaint also alleges that CSEA's refusal to reimburse the State for union leave that was not authorized by its General Manager was unlawful.
The PERB action was in response to an unfair practice charge filed by the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) in March.
PERB's next step is to schedule a settlement conference. If no settlement is reached, dates will be set for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
An Unfair Practice Charge was filed today by the Department of Personnel Administration against the California State Employees Association (CSEA). The charge alleges that CSEA has engaged in unlawful conduct by making conflicting demands regarding approval and termination of union leave, and attempting to embroil the State in an internal union dispute over who within CSEA is authorized to approve union leave requests.
The charge will be investigated by the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The PERB has authority to issue a complaint if it finds prima facie evidence that CSEA has acted unlawfully. If a complaint is issued, the dispute will be referred to an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing.