The current contract, under which our salaries and benefits are administered, is due to expire in July. As you may have seen, last week Governor Newsom named a new director to lead CalHR and terminated the former deputy director of labor relations (in charge of negotiating union contracts with the state’s 21 bargaining units). As a result, bargaining this year has been delayed and will not begin until the new team is in place at CalHR. Nonetheless, CASE is preparing for the upcoming bargaining and will be seeking your input as we establish our bargaining priorities.
The following is a brief primer of the bargaining process.
California state workers’ salaries and benefits are governed by the Ralph C. Dills Act (found at Government Code §§ 3512-3524) which was codified into law in 1977. The Dills Act defines the process the State and employee bargaining units use to establish a binding contract governing the salaries, benefits, and working conditions for all state employees.
The first step in the bargaining process is a public statement by each side identifying the general issues each side expects to seek in the upcoming bargaining. This “sunshining” typically happens about six months before the expiration of the current contract or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). From the employee standpoint, the traditional “sunshine” topics are salaries and benefits. However, that does not rule out either side bringing other issues to the table when the parties sit down to bargain formally.
Since CASE is a relatively small unit (consisting of fewer than 4,000 employees), we have traditionally bargained at a single table. CalHR has representatives from multiple departments and CASE members are represented by an eight-member Bargaining Committee. As part of our efforts to increase representation and engagement with our members, CASE has created additional committees to represent judges and small departments. Those committees will now each have a representative on the Bargaining Committee. Additionally, this year CASE is adding a dozen ex-officio members to the Bargaining Committee to ensure that there is direct input and representation of our members’ diverse concerns and interests.
At the bargaining table, the Bargaining Committee makes proposals on behalf of our members and responds to the state’s proposals. Each side also presents evidence such as salary surveys supporting their positions and each has the right to seek information from the other. Once an agreement on the terms of the MOU is reached, it is not finalized until the Voting Members of CASE vote to ratify it, the legislature votes to approve it, and the Governor signs it.
There is no set period of time within which the bargaining process must be completed. Ideally, the bargaining is completed before the existing contract expires but that is rarely the case. The process can be lengthy, however, a key provision of the Dills Act mandates that as long as the parties are still engaged in bargaining, the terms of the existing contract remain in full force and effect as they stood at the expiration of the contract term.
The Supreme Court’s recent Janus decision does not have any bearing on the bargaining process. All members of Bargaining Unit 2 are still represented by CASE as their designated representative. It is important to note that ONLY Voting Members have the right to vote on the ratification of any tentative agreement reached between the state and CASE. If you are unsure whether you are a Voting Member please contact CASE at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are not a Voting Member, please join your colleagues and let your voice be heard regarding our salaries, benefits, and bargaining priorities.
Shortly, if you are a Voting Member, CASE will be sending you another e-mail with a link to a survey. The purpose of the survey is to provide the Bargaining Committee with crucial information to help them develop strategies to be presented at the bargaining table. Please take advantage of this opportunity to let us know the issues that are most important to you. The Bargaining Committee will also be utilizing information provided to us through our Local Representatives, subcommittees (including the judges’ committee and the small department committee), and expanded ex-officio members of the Bargaining Committee.
CASE is determined that all voices are heard at the bargaining table. We will continue to provide updates and information to all members as bargaining progresses.
CASE encourages you to pass this email along to any of your colleagues who may not have received it. If you are not receiving CASE emails and wish to receive future communications from CASE, please send an email to email@example.com and request to be added to the distribution list.
CASE also encourages you to send responses from your personal email address as opposed to your state email address. Please keep in mind that all responses will be treated as confidential by CASE.
Your support and patience in this process is greatly appreciated.
The CASE Board of Directors