Dear Bargaining Unit 2 Member:
Late last night, CASE reached a tentative agreement with the State eliminating the furloughs and establishing a one-year Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”). This agreement provides that the furloughs will end for all members of Bargaining Unit 2 on July 1, 2021. This will end the 9.23% salary reduction, but also reinstate the 2% employee contribution to retiree healthcare that was temporarily reduced in the COVID-19 Side Letter. The agreement is for one year and provides a 4.04% general salary increase for all members of Bargaining Unit 2 on July 1, 2021. The agreement also converts the healthcare supplement first negotiated in 2019 to a special salary adjustment of 1.33% for all members of Bargaining Unit 2. The total salary increase for all members of Bargaining Unit 2 on July 1, 2021 will be 5.37%.
On July 1, 2022, all members’ contribution to the general retirement fund will be reduced by 0.5%. The MOU includes a Voluntary Leave Program, which allows for up to three days of voluntary leave per month with a cap of 240 hours.
The MOU consolidates ALJ classes I and II into statewide classes and converts them into a deep class within 6 months of the agreement. (Note: Reference to “ALJ” is simply shorthand for all judicial classes including ALJs, Worker’s Compensation Judges, Hearing Officers, and other judicial classifications.) Deep classing means that you no longer have to apply and pass a test to move from ALJ I to ALJ II. If you meet the base time requirements for the promotion and you are satisfactorily performing your duties, you will automatically move to the ALJ II level.
To assist with recruitment, a special salary adjustment of 15% will be instituted for attorney classes A and B on July 1, 2021. Within one year of the agreement, attorney classes A and B will be eliminated, and those members will automatically be moved into attorney class C.
The terms of this agreement primarily deal with ending the furloughs and the financial terms of the 2-year Side Letter Agreement resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the agreement does not address the longstanding salary deficits faced by all members of Bargaining Unit 2, nor does it meaningfully deal with the crisis in diversity and equity caused by the salary disparity. It also completely fails to deal with the absurdly low family and parental leave the State offers to its employees.
The CASE Bargaining Committee had multiple bargaining sessions with CalHR over several months, each of which lasted several hours, during which we presented extensive data about the salary disparity. We showed that the local agencies with whom the State competes for legal talent (the cities and counties in which 93% of our members work) were paid significantly more than state legal professionals at every level. That includes entry level attorney salaries that are as much as 67% higher; it includes top level attorney salaries that are as much as 40% higher; and it includes Federal ALJ salaries that are at least 20% higher at the entry level and at the top. The State did not rebut any of this data.
We presented evidence that none of our comparators had to endure furloughs, PLPs or any kind of COVID-19 pay cut. In fact, many of our comparators got raises last year. We established that over the last 3-1/2 years, our comparators have averaged 3.25% raises each year. We showed them that inflation is on pace to be higher than 5% this year. Again, they offered no rebuttal or contrary data.
We then used CalHR’s own data to demonstrate that many of the departments employing Bargaining Unit 2 members have significant diversity problems, in that BIPOC lawyers are severely underrepresented. We presented them with direct testimony from many Bargaining Unit 2 BIPOC members that they had personally witnessed colleagues of color leave the State because of the low pay. In fact, during bargaining, one of the testifying members left her department due to the lack of promotional opportunities. Once again, the state did not even attempt to rebut this evidence.
The CASE Bargaining Committee also proposed a paid family leave policy that would have exceeded the 12 week family leave provided by the federal government and conservative states like Georgia and Idaho. The State refused to engage in meaningful discussions over family leave and instead only agreed to continue discussing it until the next MOU expires. We also sought to have the State equalize the judicial and attorney salaries to finally correct the unfair unbalance created by the Schwarzenegger administration’s animosity toward administrative law. The State insisted on clinging to this regressive policy.
For all these reasons, we could not in good conscience enter into a long-term agreement. At the end of bargaining, the State was offering a long-term contract with an average 1.125% raise for the last two years of the contract. That unreasonable offer would have only further institutionalized the profound pay disparity suffered by all members of Bargaining Unit 2.
We will continue pushing Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, other department heads, and legislative leaders to finally solve the salary crisis, the falling diversity numbers, the disparity between judicial and attorney salaries, and the abysmal family leave. We will be asking for your help as we continue our campaign to improve the pay and benefits for all members.
Even though this agreement does not meaningfully address the many serious impacts on the State caused by the large salary disparity, it does end the furloughs and provides a 5.37% raise for all members this year. As a result, if you are a Voting Member of CASE, we are recommending that you vote yes to end the furloughs and agree to the one-year MOU. All voting members will be receiving emails next week with further information about the electronic ratification vote.
One of the primary ways we can show the State that we are unified is with our membership numbers. If you have not been receiving bargaining updates from CASE prior to this it is likely that you are not a Voting Member of CASE. To add your voice to our efforts and have a vote in all future MOUs, please join the large majority of your colleagues by filling out the below membership form today.
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.
As always, your support of CASE and your colleagues in Bargaining Unit 2 is greatly appreciated.
The CASE Board of Directors