Dear Bargaining Unit 2 Member:
Ending Furloughs and Salary Increases
1. How does the end of the furloughs affect my take-home pay?
The two furlough days equaled a 9.23% salary cut for all members of Bargaining Unit 2 (BU2). The year of furloughs also included a temporary suspension in payments to our retiree-healthcare fund (OPEB) equal to 2%. As a result, the actual cut in pay for all members was 7.23%. When the furloughs end, the suspension of OPEB payments will be lifted along with the salary cut. As a result, BU2 members’ pay will return to their base level from 2019 before the pandemic began.
2. How do the various changes related to ending furloughs and the salary increases add up to 5.37%?
All BU2 members are receiving a general salary increase (GSI) of 4.04% as well as a special salary increase (SSA) of 1.33%. As a result, the total increase from the pre-furlough base salary will be 5.37%. (If you received a merit salary increase or promotion since the last GSAs in 2019, your raise this year will be based off your current non-furlough base salary.)
3. What happens to the two days of leave from the PLP 2020 program?
The program will end, and we will not gain additional PLP 2020 days. Any PLP 2020 time that BU2 workers have accrued and not yet used will remain on the books. All PLP 2020 days earned by CASE members can be used for paid days off at a later date or can be saved and cashed out at full salary when you leave state service. Departments can “encourage” employees to use their PLP days prior to vacation or annual leave, but the decision regarding which type of leave to use is entirely up to the employee. If your department or manager attempts to force you to use your PLP days when you don’t want to, please contact CASE immediately.
The increase on the cap for available leave time — which was 640 hours before the Side Letter and was temporarily increased by the furlough time (192 PLP hours for a new cap of 832) — will remain in place through June 2024.
4. What is the Voluntary Leave Program and how does it work?
CASE is pleased to announce that for any BU2 member who needed or simply liked the additional time the furlough days provided, there is now a Voluntary Personal Leave Program. This program provides up to three days of leave per month at a corresponding cost of 4.62%, 9.23%, or 13.85% (for one, two or three days) of pay for each day of VPLP. You sign up for a plan that pre-selects between one and three days of leave and you schedule your VPLP days just as you currently schedule vacation or annual leave. If you sign up for VPLP, you are expected to take the selected number of days off each month but can accumulate limited amounts of VPLP hours if you are unable to use them. Additional details and forms for signing up for VPLP will be provided over the next few weeks.
Conversion of Expiring $260 Healthcare Supplement to Salary
5. I was getting an extra $260 check every month, is the State taking that away?
Yes. The State was adamant that this healthcare supplement would end for BU2 members when the furloughs ended. Frankly, the State tried to take away this healthcare money last year, during the pandemic, and it was the last monetary term that the CASE Bargaining Team secured as part of the now-expiring Side Letter. There was no alternative option that included continuing the healthcare supplement.
6. Is there anything in the new contract that might help offset the loss of the $260 healthcare supplement?
Yes. The actual cost to the State for the BU2 healthcare supplement was equal to 1.33% of BU2’s total pay. Rather than have that money eliminated from our compensation entirely, CASE negotiated a Special Salary Adjustment (or SSA) of 1.33%, included above in the total salary increase of 5.37%.
7. But doesn’t 1.33% of salary work out to fewer dollars per month than $260?
Yes, the amount is lower for the BU2 members who received the $260, but a substantial minority of BU2 obtained their healthcare from other sources and never benefitted from the supplement. Please remember, moreover, that the State insisted that the money would go away for CASE and be reserved for workers in units where most of the employees are paid at far lower hourly rates. Over time, the salary increase will compound for our younger members and, for those who have not reached the PEPRA pension cap, the increase will add to their final compensation used to calculate their pension amounts. Note that CASE was the only bargaining unit other than SEIU to get the healthcare supplement and convert it to pay.
8. Will members who did not receive the $260 healthcare supplement get the benefit of the 1.33% salary increase?
Yes, all members of Bargaining Unit 2, including those currently receiving COBEN who were not eligible for the $260 healthcare supplement, will get the 1.33% increase.
Administrative Judiciary Deep Classing and Class Consolidation
9. What do ALJ I & II class consolidation and deep classing mean?
Within 6 months of the start of the MOU, July 1, 2021, the ALJ I & II, along with all other non-supervisory judicial level I & II classes will be deep classed. Deep classing means that to move from class I to II, you will no longer have to apply and take a test. If you meet the minimum number of years required for the promotion and are satisfactorily performing your duties, you will be promoted. This will apply to all judicial classes including Worker’s Compensation Judges, Hearing Officers, and other judicial titles as long as the level II is not a supervisory, non-union class.
The ALJ I & II classes will also be made into statewide classes to the extent allowed by law. This means that the specifications for a judicial job will be consolidated instead of limited to particular departments as it is today. Candidates will be able to apply for a judicial position at most departments at the same time. In the event of layoffs, our members will also have greater flexibility in moving to jobs in other departments.
There are a few departments where statute or other restriction prevents inclusion in the statewide classes. However, this provision of the MOU does include deep classing for all judicial classes even if they are not able to be included in the statewide classes. CASE and CalHR will be meeting and conferring over the final details on the statewide classes and which departments will be included. We will also be determining the number of years needed for promoting from ALJ I to II because that timeline currently varies by department.
Elimination of Attorney Ranges A and B
10. What does elimination of the attorney salary ranges A and B mean?
Within one year of the start of the MOU, July 1, 2021, attorney salary ranges A and B will be eliminated. Attorneys in those groups will automatically be moved into attorney range C. No attorney from the A and B ranges will “leapfrog” any existing attorneys in range C. When the conversion occurs, every attorney at range C will have more time as an attorney C and will be eligible for promotion to attorney D before any new range C attorneys.
Attorneys in ranges A and B will get a special salary increase of 15% at the start of the MOU to assist with recruiting while ranges A and B are being eliminated. The salary structure of attorney range C and above will not be impacted by these changes.
11. Wasn’t paid family leave a negotiating priority for CASE?
Yes, CASE proposed a comprehensive, cost-sharing plan that included, among other things, twelve weeks of Paid Family/Parental Leave paid by the State to be followed by another twelve weeks of leave to be paid for by the employee, which could provide up to 24 weeks a year or 36 weeks over two years. The proposal featured a phased-in employee deduction, the continuation of the employer’s current NDI/ENDI costs, the continuation of healthcare benefits, and the accrual of seniority while on leave, so as not to punish, especially, new mothers.
Despite CASE’s efforts to get the State to acknowledge and correct their shockingly regressive family leave policies for state employees, they again refused to even offer any alternative to CASE’s proposal. Governor Newsom claims to support up to 26 weeks of paid family leave but his representatives at the bargaining table showed no interest in supporting employees who face the need to care for a new child or an injured family member.
CASE intends to increase the pressure on Governor Newsom, AG Bonta, other constitutional officers, and state legislators to live up to their claims of California being a progressive leader on these issues and supporting family friendly policies.
One Year Contract Term
12. Did the State offer a longer-term contract?
Yes. The State proposal for a multi-year contract only included a 2.25% raise in the summer of 2022 and nothing in the summer of 2023. Accepting the State’s multi-year offer would have only institutionalized and worsened the crisis.
13. Didn’t you show the State that the current low salaries are having a disparate and negative impact on women and BIPOC members of CASE?
Yes, we did. We also told the State that other public agencies pay 20-50% higher salaries and are averaging annual raises of 3.25%. The large salary disparity between BU2 and local government agencies (to say nothing about private attorneys), has created a crisis in providing justice for Californians. The State’s offers made no meaningful commitment to ending its underpayment of its legal professionals. The entire leadership of the State including Governor Newsom, AG Bonta, other constitutional officers, and state legislators need to live up to their rhetoric about supporting diversity, equity, and justice for their employees and all Californians.
14. Was there any agreement regarding teleworking or reimbursement for employee costs during the pandemic?
No. The State refused to agree to back pay or to any agreement regarding attorney costs connected to working from home during the pandemic even though, in hindsight, the furloughs were unnecessary. The State is working on general guidelines for future teleworking and was not ready to include it in any contracts at this time. CASE will continue to meet and confer with the State over this issue.
15. Did CASE ask for any other special salary adjustments or deep classes?
Yes. CASE asked that all judicial members receive a 5% pay increase to equalize them with the top three attorney classes. We also sought to have the top three judicial salaries permanently linked to the attorney salaries so that a future governor wouldn’t cause the same unfair treatment as the Schwarzenegger administration. The State refused to link judicial and attorney salaries.