Dear Bargaining Unit 2 Member:
As CASE President, I am personally sending this bargaining update to inform you that there has been very little progress this past week and to prepare our members for the very real possibility of holding out on accepting a new contract until the State will meaningfully address the severe salary deficits that are jeopardizing the critical work performed by all of our members for the State of California.
After another full week of bargaining and counter proposals, there has only been slight progress in improving CalHR’s contract offer. Rather than 3 years with 2% general salary increases (GSIs), the State has now offered 3 years with 2.5% GSIs with the third year GSI deferrable to a fourth year at the sole discretion of the State. This would allow the State to effectively spread the three GSIs over 4 years and leave us with an average GSI of 1.875% per year. If the State also exercises its option to raise the retiree healthcare deduction by .5% per year, that would leave us with a mere 1.375% raise per year. These rock bottom raises would not even keep up with inflation and would only worsen our salary crisis due to the fact that other public sector competitors such as Sacramento County are getting average increases of 4.1% over the same time period.
CalHR has also changed the 10% salary increases for attorneys in ranges A and B to 15% salary increases for attorneys in ranges A and B. However, as noted previously, this increase would only affect about 80 of our almost 4200 members and would still leave the State’s starting attorney salary $33,000 below Sacramento County’s and $44,000 below the City and County of San Francisco. This increase does nothing for the other 98% of our membership.
CalHR still refuses to equalize attorney and judicial salaries. (To clarify: Judicial salaries and references to “ALJs” in these updates are simply shorthand and do include hearing officers, workers’ compensation judges and other judicial classifications.) The State also offers nothing to address the specific salary disparities faced by our judges who earn 20% to 35% less than their federal counterparts.
With the deadline to reach an agreement before the legislature adjourns in September looming before us this week, we are continuing to negotiate for a fair contract that reflects the value of the State’s legal professionals and the values of California. We will keep fighting to the last possible moment, but we will not panic due to the deadline. We intend to continue pursuing a fair and collaborative approach to solving the salary crisis.
However, without some movement by CalHR away from their current regressive, hardline stance we will be forced to hold out rather than accept a contract that actually makes our members worse off than they are today. If forced to hold out, we will work with our friends in the legislature, department heads, and other elected officials to pressure the State to address the crisis caused by the State’s long-term neglect of its legal professionals. We may seek your input through surveys, your assistance through calls or emails to select politicians, and your participation in possible job actions. We will keep you updated with any new developments.
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As always, your support of CASE and your colleagues in Bargaining Unit 2 is greatly appreciated.
Peter Flores, Jr., CASE President