As the state budget moves forward in the next few weeks, it is very likely that excluded employee compensation reductions and a delay of anticipated salary increases will be part of the budget solutions.
While ACSS cannot collectively bargain over these proposed reductions, the Administration’s planned salary reductions cannot be achieved without legislative approval. ACSS is therefore taking active steps to mitigate the impact of reductions through the legislative process and with CalHR. Mitigating the reductions includes:
- Avoid Straight Cuts in Pay
If salary has to be reduced, it should be through a temporary furlough or personal leave program that provides leave in exchange for the salary reduction and does not change salary ranges, nor negatively impact retirement calculations.
- Flexibility in a Furlough Program
If excluded employees are furloughed, there must be flexibility for supervisors and managers to continue meeting the workload with reduced staff. ACSS is requesting that CalHR implement the program in a way that allows maximum flexibility for excluded employees by not requiring the leave be used in the same month it is accrued.
- Suspend Employee Contributions to Pre-fund Retiree Health Care
Each month excluded employees have a deduction labeled “CERBT” which stands for California Employers’ Retiree Benefit Trust. This deduction is to pay the employee share of pre-funding retiree health care. Most ACSS members are scheduled to pay between 3.5 to 4.5 percent of salary per month. Suspending the payment for at least the duration of the salary reductions will mitigate the reduction in take home salary with no impact on eligibility for health care benefits in retirement.
- Health Care Affordability Payment
SEIU Local 1000 negotiated a $260 per month payment for employees enrolled in a health plan. ACSS asked that this payment be provided to all excluded employees. The current proposal is to allow the $260 per month payment to go forward July 1, 2020 for both SEIU rank-and-file employees and related excluded employees.
For some ACSS members, suspending the retiree health care deduction and providing the $260 per month would almost completely offset the salary reduction of a two-day furlough. For others, getting one or both would partially offset the temporary salary reduction.
- Federal Trigger Language
The Administration is proposing that the salary reduction authority would end if federal money is received. While this is positive, the details have not been developed. ACSS will push for language to directly address the impact of federal funding on excluded employees.
- Salary Adjustments
Most ACSS members were scheduled for general salary increases and thousands anticipated special salary adjustments (SSA) July 1, 2020. The Administration is proposing no increases. While the treatment of delaying these raises will certainly be impacted by rank-and-file bargaining, it needs to be acknowledged that SSAs were planned to address recruitment and retention issues. Delaying these increases, and exacerbating recruitment and retention problems by cutting pay, will almost certainly lead to more attrition through retirement. The SSAs need to be paid as soon as possible to address likely retention issues.
ACSS is aware that other groups have proposed retirement incentives as a cost saving measure and that nothing in the Administration’s current proposals address incentives for those excluded employees providing front line COVID-19 response. If there is room to advocate on these issues, ACSS will do so through the state budget deliberative process and with CalHR.
We will keep you apprised as these significant budget decisions and proposed reductions move forward.