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Legislature Passes Bill Approving MOUs, Appropriates Money for Increases for Related Excluded Employees

Posted: 9/13/2019 Tags: benefits legislation policy salary Tags Views: 1189

On September 12, 2019, the Legislature approved Assembly Bill 118 which includes funding for certain excluded employee salary adjustments. AB 118 approved labor contracts for 13 state rank-and-file bargaining units (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21). The bill, which contains budget appropriations to fund employee compensation increases for both rank-and-file employees and related excluded employees, now heads to Governor Newsom for his approval.

ACSS has requested CalHR provide at least the same salary and benefit increases to supervisors, managers and confidential employees in addition to correcting standing salary inequities and compaction issues. The expectation is that CalHR will adjust salaries for excluded employees related to bargaining units 2, 7 and 13 retroactively to July 1, 2019.

Most salary adjustments and other benefits for excluded employees related to the 9 SEIU Local 1000 bargaining units (1, 3, 4, 11, 13, 15, 17, 20, and 21) are effective July 1, 2020. The SEIU rank-and-file agreements call for a few increases to take effect this fiscal year: increase in bilingual pay, recruitment & retention for Correctional Case Records Analysts, increase in the call center differential, expanding the personnel and payroll geographic differential to include Alameda County, and an increase in the commute reimbursement from $65 per month to $100 per month. Other employee compensation adjustments – general salary increases, special salary adjustments and the new provision to provide $260 per month to those enrolled in a CalPERS health plan – are scheduled to take effect July 1, 2020. ACSS has asked CalHR to provide excluded employees with at least these same increases in addition to resolving identified salary compaction issues by raising excluded employee salaries.

Following Governor Newsom’s signature on AB 118, CalHR will issue a “Pay Letter” as the official instruction to the State Controller’s Office to adjust salaries. ACSS will publicize the pay letter and its impact as soon as it is released. ACSS is next scheduled to meet with CalHR in early October and will keep all members apprised of progress made on addressing salary compaction and improving excluded employee salaries and benefits.


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Many Excluded Employees will see smaller paychecks as OPEB Deductions increase, ACSS takes action

Posted: 8/28/2019 Tags: benefits legislation policy retirement salary Tags Views: 1785

ACSS has been affirmatively taking action advocating for our members’ interests on OPEB deductions and General Salary Increases this year. As always, we represent the voice of Managers, Supervisors and Confidential State Employees and we strive to obtain fair wages and working conditions.

Although raises for many excluded employees were effective with last month’s pay warrants, the increased Other-Post Employment Benefit (OPEB) deductions will take effect with the August pay period. Your OPEB contribution is listed on your pay stub as “CERBT”, which stands for California Employers’ Retiree Benefit Trust.

Your contribution as a percentage of salary is matched with a state employer contribution. The purpose is to reduce the “unfunded liability” for retiree health care to ensure that your valuable earned health benefits will be available when you retire.

The following chart showing the legislatively approved contribution rate increases for OPEB and CalHR approved increases for exempt and excluded employees not related to a specific bargaining unit:

OPEB INCREASES for EXCLUDED
EMPLOYEES Effective August 2019
 Percentage Increase
 1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15,
17, 20, 21 (SEIU Units)
 1.1%
 2  0.7%
 6  N/A 
 7  1.3%
 8  1.4%
 9  1%
 10  1.4%
 12  1%
 13  1.3%
 16  N/A
 18  1.4%
 19  1%
 Exempt and excluded employees not
directly tied to a BU (E48, E97, E98, E99)
 0.8%

Not all excluded employee salaries increased on July 1, 2019. State Bargaining Units 2 and 18 have not reached new labor contracts. ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein has urged CalHR to provide a General Salary Increase to supervisors, managers and excluded employees related to these units. Click here to read President D’Braunstein’s letter to CalHR. ACSS has been proactive in the fight for fair and appropriate wages on behalf of these excluded employees.

Excluded employees related to state Bargaining Units 9 and 10, will also see a temporary one-half percent increase in the employee pension retirement contribution. The Unit 9 increase will be for this fiscal year only and the Unit 10 increase will be for two years. A one-half percent increase for excluded employees related to Unit 16 will take affect this paycheck and thereafter.

ACSS will continue to stand up for your rights while communicating and working with the Administration. As we receive new information, we will continue to keep you informed on these important issues.

>> Click here to read details of the OPEB provisions.

>> Click here to read OBEB FAQ's from CalHR.


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Open Enrollment for Health, Dental and Vision Begins September 9, 2019

Posted: 8/22/2019 Tags: benefits policy Tags Views: 525

Open Enrollment for health, dental and vision coverage starts September 9 and ends October 4. This is your opportunity to evaluate your health care selections and make any changes to your health or dental plans, add or drop dependents, or elect to enroll in the cash option in lieu of health and/or dental benefits effective January 1, 2020.

CalHR just announced the amount of the 2020 Consolidated Benefits (CoBen) allowance to be used for health and dental benefits effective January 1, 2020. The CoBen Employer contribution for excluded employees has increased to $695 (Single)/$1347 (2-Party)/$1741 (Family). This new CoBen amount for supervisors, managers, and confidential employees is up to $118 higher per month than the state employer contribution for some rank-and-file employees.

Health Premiums have increased by an average of 6 percent, with two plans seeing much higher increases – Blue Shield Access+ will increase by 13.91 percent and Health Net SmartCare will increase by 18.15 percent. CalPERS mailed letters July 26, 2019 to members impacted by health premium rate increases of 10 percent or more. A new lower cost plan, Blue Shield Trio, is available in some areas. Dental premiums will remain the same or will decrease slightly. Vision plan premiums will decrease.

If you would like to explore different health plan options, CalPERS has a tool that allows you to search plan availability and premium rates based on your zip code. Visit the CalPERS website here.

To compare plan costs and calculate your exact out of pocket costs, or your CoBen cash back if your selections are lower than the CoBen Allowance, visit the CalHR Benefits Calculator and select “2020” and “Excluded Employee” before entering your options.

Be on the lookout for Open Enrollment forms from your department. If you are not making changes, no action is needed.


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Family Care Leave in Effect as of July 1, 2019

Posted: 7/1/2019 Tags: benefits legislation policy Tags Views: 1306

CalHR has updated its policy to reflect that effective July 1, 2019, excluded employees enrolled in the Annual Leave Program (Section 2102) are eligible for Family Care Leave as part of Non-Industrial Disability Insurance (Section 1411).

The new Family Care Leave Benefit is only for excluded employees enrolled in Annual Leave. Normally, excluded employees must wait 24 months before changing from Vacation/Sick Leave to the Annual Leave program. As a result of the new Family Care Leave benefit, CalHR has also announced a one-time open enrollment period for excluded employees to elect to enroll in Annual Leave. ACSS members who recently elected the Vacation/Sick Leave Program or switched to the Vacation/Sick Leave Program have until August 29, 2019 to elect to enroll in the Annual Leave Program by submitting a form to their Human Resources Office. Employees currently enrolled in Annual Leave are automatically eligible for the Family Care Leave benefit and no action is required.


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General Salary Increases for Excluded Employees Effective July 1, 2019

Posted: 6/25/2019 Tags: legislation policy Tags Views: 4509

The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) has informed ACSS of General Salary Increases (GSI) for state excluded employees effective July 1, 2019. Excluded employees will receive the same percentage raises as the bargaining unit they are associated with as follows:

Excluded Employees Affiliated with Bargaining Unit  GSI
 1, 3, 4, 11, 12, 14, 15,
17, 20, 21 (SEIU Units)
 3.5%
 6  5%
 9  4% 
 10  5%
 16,19  2%

The budget also provides funds to pay the state’s share of health and dental benefits increases for excluded employees and additional money to prefund retiree healthcare.

Four rank-and-file bargaining units (2, 7, 13 and 18) with contracts expiring on or about July 1, 2019 remain at the table. ACSS has made proposals to CalHR for special salary adjustments for some excluded employees related to those bargaining units. ACSS also proposes that any salary increases negotiated for rank-and-file employees also be provided at the same time to related supervisors and managers.

Most excluded employees will also see an adjustment in the employee deduction for OPEB. The deduction, expected to adjust with your August pay warrant (received at the end of August/beginning of September), shows as CERBT – which stands for the California Employers’ Retiree Benefit Trust. These employer and employee contributions reduce the “unfunded liability” for retiree health care and will help ensure your valuable earned health benefits will be available when you retire.

Exempt and Excluded Employees not directly tied to a bargaining unit (such as many employees who have an “E” Collective Bargaining Identifier) will receive a 3.5% GSI.

The official Pay Letters are expected to be released shortly after the Governor signs the State Budget later this week.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Update 7/5/19 - CalHR releases Pay Letter 1912 - GSI (Managers and Supervisor classifications begin on page 10.)


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ACSS Secures Significant Victory! How ACSS Helped Make Family Care Leave Benefits for Excluded Employees a Reality.

Posted: 6/21/2019 Tags: benefits legislation legislature policy Tags Views: 1121

The legislature passed Senate Bill 83 and it is now on Governor Newsom’s desk. SB 83 will provide supervisors, managers and confidential employees the ability to take up to six weeks of paid time off to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new child.

ACSS has advocated for paid family leave benefits for years. In the last legislative session, an ACSS sponsored bill (AB 3145) made it to the desk of Governor Brown. Although he vetoed the bill, he noted that the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) was developing a plan to offer paid family benefits to state managers and supervisors. The Newsom Administration has supported the legislative changes required to implement this benefit. ACSS has been working with the Administration diligently to ensure that SB 83 passed through the legislature and that ACSS members receive these important benefits.

The new law, effective July 1, 2019, will expand non-industrial disability insurance (NDI) for excluded employees enrolled in the annual leave program. Under the “Enhanced-NDI” program, supervisors, managers and confidential employees will receive 50 percent of their gross salary for up to six weeks for Family Care Leave. This Enhanced-NDI benefit can be supplemented to 75% or 100% of salary using paid leave credits. This new benefit is unique to excluded employees and is employer paid with no employee contribution required. There is no waiting period for excluded employees switching from vacation/sick leave into the annual leave program.

ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein remarked, “ACSS has long sought paid leave for our members to bond with a new child or care for ill family members.  I am proud that ACSS’ legislative program was able to deliver this benefit to our members.  Achieving this benefit without an employee cost is remarkable.  I thank Governor Newsom for championing paid family leave and the Legislature for swiftly passing this new law which is unique to supervisors and managers.”

If you have any questions about switching from vacation/sick leave to annual leave or questions about the new Family Care Leave benefit, contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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ACSS Met with CalHR to Discuss Issues that Affect Excluded Employees

Posted: 5/17/2019 Tags: legislation policy representation Tags Views: 1473

On April 30, 2019, ACSS met with CalHR Director Eraina Ortega to discuss the new administration’s plan for salary and benefits improvement for the State’s excluded employees. Director Ortega was appointed by Governor Newsom in March. Director Ortega met with ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein, ACSS Executive Director Rocco Paternoster, ACSS Director of Representation Nellie Lynn and ACSS Legislative Advocate Ted Toppin.

ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein comments, “ACSS is pleased to be working with the new Administration and we anticipate a productive relationship moving forward. It was a pleasure talking with Director Ortega and I believe together we can work towards achieving positive results to resolve the issues affecting ACSS Members.” Director Ortega is committed to working with ACSS to ensure excluded employees are part of the process of developing the compensation package for excluded employees. ACSS appreciates the opportunity to work cooperatively with CalHR to ensure future excluded employee salary and benefits improvements address existing salary compaction issues and establish pay differentials for supervisors and managers that attract the best candidates for the State’s management team making the State of California an employer of choice.

ACSS asked Director Ortega about implementation of a Paid Family Leave component to the disability program for excluded employees and conveyed ACSS’ long standing advocacy and support for Paid Family Leave for excluded employees.


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May Revision of the 2019 – 2020 State Budget

Posted: 5/13/2019 Tags: budget legislation legislature policy Tags Views: 1103

Governor Newsom released his May Revise of the state budget on May 9, 2019. While forecasting a budget surplus of $21.5 billion for the budget year beginning July 1, the May Revise predicts slower economic growth in the years to come and warns of the possibly detrimental economic impact of even a mild recession.

The Governor’s proposed budget would increase the state’s rainy day fund to $16.5 billion to build resiliency in the event of an unpredicted recession. It also provides for some one-time funding to assist with cost-of living assistance for the middle class, the housing crisis, K-12 schools, and homelessness. The proposal kicks off legislative deliberation over the budget plan with a June 15 deadline for the legislature to send a budget to the governor.

A few highlights of importance to ACSS members:

State Employee Compensation
The January budget proposal included $1.2 billion for increased employee compensation (including proposed salary increases for most supervisors and managers), higher health care costs for active employees, and the state’s contribution to prefund retiree health care costs for active employees. This amount is updated slightly to reflect health benefit enrollments and costs. ACSS will continue to meet with CalHR, advocating for increases in excluded employee salaries for 2019 – 2020.

Pension Contributions
The budget includes $6.8 billion for the state employer’s contribution to CalPERS and a supplemental payment of $3 billion to CalPERS. The supplemental payment is expected to save $7.2 billion in state employer pension costs over 30 years.

Paid Family Leave
The Governor plans to bolster California’s Paid Family Leave program over the next few years and makes budgetary adjustments to plan for the expansion of the program. ACSS’ legislative advocates are busy supporting legislation which would for the first time make Paid Family Leave available to excluded employees, a long-standing goal of ACSS.

Governmental Reorganization
The proposed budget reflects the Administration’s intent to reorganize elements of state government, notably the Division of Juvenile Justice. With a proposed effective date of July 1, 2020, ACSS will work to protect the interests of members moved from CDCR to a new department under the California Health and Human Services Agency.

The Governor’s complete budget summary and draft can be found here:

http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/


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OPEB Increases for Some Excluded Employees Effective July 1, 2019

Posted: 4/26/2019 Tags: policy Tags Views: 2699

CalHR announced changes to the Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) program for excluded employees not related to a bargaining unit. All state employees have begun prefunding retiree healthcare. The contribution as a percentage of salary is matched with a state employer contribution. The goal is to reduce the “unfunded liability” for retiree healthcare and ensure your valuable earned health benefits will be available when you retire.

For excluded and exempt employees not directly associated with a bargaining unit (e.g. E48, E97, E98 and E99), prefunding of retiree healthcare will change from 0.8% to 1.6% of salary effective July 1, 2019 with a matching employer contribution. Click here for more information about this announcement on CalHR’s web page.

As the state budget progresses, CalHR is expected to make other announcements increasing excluded employee salaries effective July 1, 2019 and increasing the contributions required to prefund retiree healthcare.

Contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative if you have further questions.


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Supreme Court Pension Ruling Eliminates Ability to Purchase "Air Time" Service Credit – No Impact on California Rule

Posted: 3/4/2019 Tags: legislation policy Tags Views: 1348

The California Supreme Court published a March 4, 2019 opinion in Cal FIRE Local 2881 v. CalPERS. The lawsuit challenged the portion of the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) which eliminated the ability of state employees to purchase up to five years of additional CalPERS service credit, known as “air time.”

Although the Court’s decision upholds the portion of PEPRA which took away the opportunity to purchase air time service credit, the ruling is narrow in scope. The Court held the ability to purchase air time was not a constitutionally vested pension benefit protected by the contract clause. It is important to note this decision has no impact on those who purchased additional service credit prior to 2013.

Because the Court concluded the opportunity to purchase additional retirement service credit was not protected from impairment by the contract clause, its elimination does not implicate the State Constitution or the “California Rule.” Since 1955, the courts have held under the California Rule that once pension benefits are granted to a public employee, they are vested and cannot be modified for the duration of an employee’s career.

While this decision has no impact on the California Rule, two significant pension cases which may impact the California Rule remain pending before the State Supreme Court. ACSS previously filed a request that these cases be reviewed because of the lower court departure from precedent concerning vested pension rights. We are also working closely with the law firm handling these cases to ensure your vested pension interests and the California Rule are protected.

ACSS’ legislative efforts to preserve and protect members earned and promised pension benefits continue. ACSS is also part of Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition of more than 1.6 million public employees and retirees that seeks to educate the public, lawmakers, and the media regarding public employee pensions.

ACSS will continue to keep you apprised of important pension issues and inform you of actions taken to protect the interests of excluded state employees.


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