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State employees to receive raises in proposed deal

Posted: June 11, 2013 12:48 p.m.
Updated: June 11, 2013 12:48 p.m.
 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — About 95,000 state employees could be in line for a 4.5 percent pay raise as part of a tentative three-year agreement reached Tuesday between Gov. Jerry Brown and California's largest public employee union.

In an email to members, Service Employees Union International Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker said the pay hike would be received by July 1, 2015, with specific timing dependent on state revenues.

If revenue meets state projections, employees would get a 2 percent raise on July 1, 2014, followed by another 2.5 percent increase on July 1, 2015.

If next year's revenue targets aren't met, the entire 4.5 percent increase would go into effect in 2015, Walker said.

State revenues have seen a bump this year, but analysts say it's too soon to tell whether those increases will continue.

Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee, described the proposed link between raises and state revenues as laughable, because employees would get the pay increases regardless of the state's finances next year.

"It negates itself," Jones said. "(The governor) says one thing, but if that doesn't happen, we're going to do it anyway."

The deal also includes a guarantee of no furlough days and protects health care and retirement benefits. State workers have had one furlough day a month during the past year.

David Gay, a spokesman for the state Human Resources Department, confirmed the tentative agreement was reached but declined to discuss details.

H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, said the deal does not affect a tentative deal on a 2013-14 state budget, since raises would not take effect until July 2014.

The union criticized Brown at a Capitol rally last week, saying the governor was refusing to offer any pay raises. Asked by reporters last month about negotiations, Brown said he was aiming low.

Unions were critical in winning voter approval for Brown's November tax initiative, Proposition 30, and helping him present a budget that he says is balanced.

"State workers have been through a roller coaster in the past five years," SEIU spokesman Jim Zamora said Tuesday. "We have been on furloughs more than we haven't."

The state is also responsible for billions of dollars in health care obligations and pension liabilities for retired state employees in the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

The state should start paying down those obligations before giving state workers a substantial raise, said Dan Pellissier, president of California Pension Reform.

"Most state employees, if you include their retirement packages, would continue to be overcompensated based upon their private sector counterparts," Pellissier said.

The union said the tentative agreement with Brown also includes increases in business and travel expenses, additional grievance procedures, and a 50-cent hourly increase for seasonal employees starting in July 2014.

The highest-paid state employees are already scheduled to receive a 3 percent pay increase on July 1 as part of the existing union contract.

The deal requires ratification from union employees, who will begin voting on the proposal the week of June 24.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

 

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