Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Dear Bargaining Unit 2 Voting Member:
CASE continues to bargain with the State about establishing a new Memorandum of Understanding and eliminating the furloughs. You have likely seen media stories this year about California’s increasingly rosy budget forecast. It is clear, in hindsight, that the State’s demand to cut the salaries of all state employees was unnecessary. You may be wondering why the State, of its own accord, has not already ended the forced salary cuts. The answer seems to be that the State appears to prioritize everything else rather than restoring our salaries back to their already low 2019 levels.
In this year’s bargaining, CASE is asking for repayment of the furlough-based salary cuts, for raises that make up for lack of a raise in 2020, and for raises to make up for the lack of a set raise this year. While we expect to be able to finalize the specifics regarding the end of the furloughs, we are in a very different situation than all other state bargaining units. Those bargaining units are primarily negotiating over the end of furloughs (ending June 30th) but do not also face the severe salary deficit crisis that we do. We expect to be hearing that many of the other units have finalized furlough ending agreements over the next few weeks. We still have time to end the damaging effects of the side letter and furloughs on June 30th, and please be assured that we are working hard on this for you.
Still, CASE thinks you will agree that returning to the 2019 baseline is not enough. Last year, the COVID-19 Side Letter interrupted CASE as we were fighting for a new MOU to address the severe salary deficits that have created a crisis in attracting and retaining the most qualified and diverse group of legal professionals needed to provide justice and equality for all Californians. For far too long the State has ignored the growing damage it is causing to fairness, equity, and justice by undervaluing its legal professionals.
Critically, the State’s decades-long refusal to pay CASE members the same as other public sector legal employers has corresponded to the increasing numbers of women legal professionals working for the State. Women now comprise over 54% of the State’s legal workforce. The low salaries, when combined with the State’s archaic, unprogressive family leave policies, have resulted in a grossly disparate negative impact on female attorneys and judges. The State simply cannot portray itself as a progressive leader while treating its female legal professionals as second-class citizens.
Similar disparate impacts are affecting BIPOC attorneys and judges in every department. The State’s legal workforce is nowhere near the diversity of California’s population, thus, imperiling the fight for equity and justice. The State has even failed to keep up with the number of BIPOC lawyers graduating from law school and has fallen behind most counties and cities because it has failed to hire or retain the best, most diverse attorneys available. Interviews of many who have left state service for work at other public agencies such as cities and counties have shown that the primary reason for leaving is the low salaries. Incredibly, since 2017, the number of BIPOC attorneys and judges working for the State has been dropping rather than increasing. Nonetheless, the State has yet to meaningfully engage with us in seeking solutions to this crisis.
In summary, on behalf of its membership, CASE is seeking to find solutions to the equity and justice crisis created by the salary deficit. Those solutions must begin this year when the State has the largest budget surplus in history. We will not ignore the short-term goals regarding ending the furloughs, but we also will not abandon our insistence that the State needs to solve the long-term crisis it has created for women, the BIPOC community, and for every hard-working member of CASE who fights for equality and justice every day.
We know that the pandemic era has increased the hardships that many of you face, and we appreciate your continued membership in CASE. In difficult times such as this, we especially need to work together as a group to solve the ongoing crisis caused by the State undervaluing its legal professionals. One of the primary ways we can show the State that we are unified is with our membership numbers. If you have a colleague who has not yet joined CASE, please consider passing them this email along with the below membership form. We will keep you informed as the negotiations progress.
If you are not receiving CASE emails and wish to receive future communications from CASE, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org 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