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Vacancies Filled and Issues Discussed at ACSS Board Meeting in Sacramento

Posted: 9/29/2021 Tags: Board Meeting compaction meeting policy salary Tags Views: 241

On September 11, 2021, ACSS held an in-person Board of Directors meeting in at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento. The first order of business was to fill two vacancies on the ACSS Board of Directors, and a vacancy for a Chapter President. Amal Kattan-Handal was Nominated by Chapter 503 President Jim Teahan and confirmed as the new Board Member for Chapter 503 (Sacramento area). Bret Blaydes was confirmed as the new Board Member for Chapter 509 (Southern Central Valley area). Nicole Stewart was confirmed as President of Chapter 507 (South Bay Area and Monterey). ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein swore in the new Board Members and Chapter Officer by reciting the Oath of Office.

The Board of Directors reviewed information from the PAC/Legislative Committee, the President’s Forum, and other Association business. They discussed the new roll out of virtual Chapter Zoom meetings as a new method of communication. So far, three virtual Chapter meetings have successfully occurred and ACSS plans to continue scheduling virtual meetings as an effective way to conduct Chapter business.

ACSS Assistant Director of Representation Gerald James discussed the many achievements and efforts of the Representation Program that have helped ACSS Members. Throughout the pandemic, ACSS has continued to meet with CalHR to review many long-standing salary inequity issues, address salary compaction and to provide salary proposals and supporting information to CalHR. In spring of 2021, ACSS fought for Special Salary Adjustments (SSA) for excluded employees related to Bargaining Unit 19 (Health and Social Services/Professionals) while Unit 19 was at the bargaining table. Because of ACSS’ advocacy on behalf of supervisors and managers, some classes will receive an 8% SSA, which is the highest salary adjustment for classes related to Unit 19.

Gerald James also talked about the end of the Personal Leave Program salary reductions, which ACSS heavily advocated for and puts more money back into the pockets of ACSS members. Contrary to previous practices and at ACSS’ request, CalHR confirmed the end of the PLP Program and confirmed salary increases for excluded employees in writing to ACSS in mid-June 2021, before official “Pay Letters” went out. In prior years excluded employees had to wait for the state budget to be signed and the pay letters to issue in mid-July. This is proof that CalHR Director Eraina Ortega and Chief Deputy of Labor Relations Paul Starkey are willing to listen to ACSS and to change the status quo for the benefit of ACSS Members. There is still much work to do, but the relationship between CalHR and ACSS will ensure the long-standing issues are fairly evaluated and resolved for the benefit of ACSS Members.

Salary compaction issues remain in many classifications and ACSS continues to fight for equitable pay on behalf of ACSS Members. Among the ACSS proposals being evaluated by CalHR, the most egregious salary compaction classes in need of resolving are within the CDPH Health Facilities Evaluator Classes, Food Service Supervisors, and the Program Director, Program Assistant and Unit Supervisors classes at the Department of State Hospitals and California Correctional Health Care Services.

ACSS continues to fight for special salary adjustment increases for Right-of-Way Agents, Transportation Planners, and Environmental Planners at Caltrans. In addition, we are advocating for safety retirement for Nursing Consultants and reorganizing classifications for Department of Developmental Services for Peace Officers.

Talks between ACSS and CalHR include the teleworking policies and related stipends and vaccine mandates and testing. ACSS and CalHR meet on a quarterly basis and as needed between those standing meetings to discuss and resolve issues that affect ACSS Members. As always, ACSS will keep you informed on policy changes and important issues that affect our Members and all excluded employees.


Bret Blaydes (Chapter 509 Board Member) with ACSS President Todd D'Braunstein.


Amal Kattan-Handal (Chapter 503 Board Member) with ACSS President Todd D'Braunstein.


Nicole Stewart (Chapter 507 President) with ACSS President Todd D'Braunstein.


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Now that we Prevailed in the Recall, Vote in the CalPERS Election!

Posted: 9/16/2021 Tags: benefits election salary Tags Views: 174

Governor Newsom has prevailed against the recall efforts, and by a record margin. While a small number of ballots are still being tabulated, it was clear almost immediately after polls closed that the Californian voters overwhelmingly supported the Governor and soundly rejected the recall effort.

Pleased with the results, ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein said, “I want to thank all ACSS members who participated in the special election and supported Governor Newsom against the recall. Opposing the recall is an important step in keeping Californians safe against the spread of coronavirus and protecting the rights of workers. In continuing with protecting your overall benefits and retirement, don’t forget to participate in the ongoing CalPERS election.”

In the CalPERS Member-at-Large Election, ACSS supports candidates David Miller and Jose Luis Pacheco for Seat A and Seat B, respectively. ACSS believes these candidates will work hard to protect your pension and ensure you receive your rightful retirement benefits with security and dignity. We encourage you to participate in the CalPERS Member-at-Large election by turning in your ballot before September 27, 2021. To learn more about the CalPERS election, click here.


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CalHR Issues Pay Letters Ending the PLP 2020 Reduction and Implementing Salary Increases

Posted: 7/9/2021 Tags: benefits budget legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 2088

This week CalHR issued two pay letters impacting excluded employees. Pay Letter 21-18 ends the pay reductions (generally 9.23%) from the Personal Leave Program 2020. Pay Letter 21-19 increases salaries for most excluded employees through General Salary Increases and includes a number of Special Salary Adjustments. The State Controller’s Office is implementing these changes with the July 2021 pay period warrants.

All excluded employees are receiving the same General Salary Increases as related rank-and-file employees and from ACSS’ initial review, it appears all Special Salary Adjustments have been passed along to related supervisors and managers.

ACSS awaits a pay letter for the July 1, 2021 General Salary Increase (5.06%) and Special Salary Adjustments for S19 and M19 employees. ACSS will keep impacted employees apprised of the expected timing of these salary adjustments.

CalHR has informed ACSS that the resumption of the “OPEB/CERBT” employee contribution is now expected to also take effect with the July pay warrant. This employee contribution to prefund retiree health care benefits was suspended during the PLP 2020 pay reductions with the state picking up the employees’ portion. The employee contributions generally range from 2 percent to 4.6 percent of salary.

With salaries restored, ACSS now looks forward to working in earnest with CalHR and impacted departments to address a number of supervisory and managerial pay and classification issues.

Pay Letter 21-18 ending the PLP 2020 reductions can be read here.

The portions of Pay Letter 21-19 affecting excluded employees can be read here. (page 14 through 45.)

If you have questions about the salary increases or the prefunding of retiree healthcare, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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ACSS Meets with CalHR: PLP 2020 to End, Excluded Employee Salary Increases July 1, 2021

Posted: 6/16/2021 Tags: bargaining benefits budget policy salary Tags Views: 5107

ACSS met with the Department of Human Resources (CalHR) on June 15, 2021 to discuss pay and benefits for the state’s supervisory, managerial, confidential and exempt employees.

Excluded Employee Pay Plan for 2021-2022

CalHR has confirmed to ACSS that the Personal Leave Program (PLP) salary reductions of 9.23% will end effective June 30, 2021. Full salaries will be restored for all excluded employees and accrual of PLP days will end. CalHR has also confirmed that generally, excluded employees will receive the same percentage salary increases as the bargaining unit to which they are affiliated.

The Exempt and Excluded Employee Pay Plan includes:

  • An end to the Personal Leave Program salary reduction of 9.23%
  • General Salary Increases effective July 1, 2021:

    EXCLUDED EMPLOYEES AFFILIATED WITH BARGAINING UNIT: GSI
    1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, 21 (SEIU Units)  4.55%
    2 (+1.33% additional salary adjustment for all)  4.04%
     5  4.90%
     6  5.58%
     7  5.06%
     9  5.58%
     10  7.63%
     12  5.06%
     13  5.83%
     16  5.06%
     18  5.58%
     19*  5.06%
  • Special Salary Adjustments and Pay Differentials will be extended to exempt and excluded employees where appropriate.
  • Employees will resume the “OPEB” contribution to pre-fund retiree health care (the amount varies from 1.4% to 4.6% of salary). The deduction is expected to resume with the August 2021 pay warrant.
  • All exempt and excluded employees associated with the SEIU bargaining units will continue to receive the $260 taxable cash benefit (health affordability payment) through June 30, 2022.

Exempt and Excluded Employees not directly tied to a bargaining unit (such as many employees who have an “E” Collective Bargaining Identifier) are expected to receive the 4.55% GSI.

CalHR is working on the “Pay Letters” and expects the salary adjustments to be reflected in the July pay warrants. As the pay letters are developed, ACSS will continue advocacy with CalHR to ensure excluded employees receive all appropriate special salary adjustments.

Negotiations between CalHR and the representatives for rank-and-file bargaining unis 8, 10 and 19 for new labor contracts continue. ACSS has proposed that any increases in those MOUs also be provided to related excluded employees.

Other Salary and Benefit Advocacy for ACSS Members Continues

At the June 15, 2021 meeting, CalHR and ACSS continued the discussion of salary inequities and classification issues for excluded employees.

CalHR has again committed to providing substantive responses to many ACSS proposals including:

  • Allocating Nursing Consultant, Program Review employees to State Safety Retirement
  • Salary inequity adjustments for Program Directors, Program Assistants, and Unit Supervisors
  • Salary inequity adjustments for excluded Environmental Planners, Transportation Planners and Right-of-Way Agents
  • Reclassification and salary adjustments for the excluded employees in the Health Facility Evaluator Series
  • Salary inequity adjustments for the Food Service Supervisor excluded classes for fiscal year 2020-2021.

ACSS will continue to keep impacted members apprised of the status of potential increases to pay and benefits.

* BU 19 UPDATED as of 7/1/2021


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May Revision of the 2021 – 2022 State Budget: End of Pay Reductions and Deferrals

Posted: 5/14/2021 Tags: budget legislation legislature policy salary Tags Views: 3511

Governor Newsom released his May Revise of the state budget on May 14, 2021. The budget includes a projected $75.7 billion surplus. The historic $267.8 billion budget ($196.8 billion general fund) includes $24.4 billion in reserves, with $15.9 billion in the state’s rainy day fund.

In his budget summary, the Governor notes that last year state employees “stepped up at a time of uncertainty” by deferring scheduled pay increases and pay reductions through the Personal Leave Program. Although the Governor notes long-term financial risk remains high, the higher-than-anticipated tax revenue and additional federal funds have drastically improved the near-term picture. With that backdrop, the budget proposal contains a few highlights of importance to ACSS members:

  • Instructs CalHR to discuss the end of the Personal Leave Program 2020 program AND an end to deferring scheduled pay increases
  • Includes a $1.5 billion additional one-time supplemental payment to CalPERS for state plans (to pay down liabilities and save state employer pension costs)
  • Includes a one-time $616 million payment to keep on pace to pre-fund retiree health benefits (which makes up for the employee contribution which was suspended this fiscal year to mitigate the PLP pay reduction )

The updated budget proposal kicks off legislative deliberation over the budget plan with a June 15 deadline for the legislature to send a budget to the Governor. It also kicks off discussions and collective bargaining with CalHR over ending the PLP 2020 program and ending the deferral of salary increases which many ACSS members were slated to receive July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021.

ACSS will continue our discussions over the next few weeks with CalHR over excluded employee pay increases and will use the opportunity created by the budget surplus to address long-standing pay and benefit issues. We will keep you apprised as the excluded pay plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021 comes into focus.

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

Budget Summary (ca.gov)


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Leave Buy-Back Program Authorized for Excluded Employees

Posted: 4/20/2021 Tags: benefits legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 2214

CalHR and the Department of Finance have authorized the Excluded Employee Leave Buy-Back Program for 2020-2021. Employees designated Exempt, Supervisory, Managerial or Confidential may elect to be paid at their regular salary rate in exchange for up to 80 hours of unused leave (vacation or annual leave, voluntary personal leave, personal holiday or holiday credit). Note that Personal Leave Program 2020 leave (or prior PLP leave) may not be cashed out. Payment is out of existing appropriations, so each department’s participation is subject to the availability of departmental funds.

No later than May 1, 2021, your department should notify you whether the department has funds to participate and how much leave (up to 80 hours) that you will be able to cash out. The notification will include a deadline to submit your request to cash out leave. Departments may issue payments as early as May, but no later than June 30, 2021.

Authorization of the leave buy-back program is welcome news and reflective of the vastly improved state budget situation over last year’s pandemic related budget predictions. ACSS members are encouraged to evaluate their accrued leave status and consider cashing out leave as part of an overall strategy to remain compliant with leave caps.

Click here to view the CalHR policy manual covering leave buy-back.

If you have questions regarding leave buy-back program issues, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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Ongoing ACSS Meetings with CalHR Result in Gains, Progress, and Benefits for Members

Posted: 3/26/2021 Tags: benefits compaction COVID-19 legislation policy salary Tags Views: 2816

Throughout the pandemic, ACSS has been meeting regularly with CalHR on a quarterly basis and more frequently, as needed. ACSS has been at the forefront of action, working closely with CalHR and the Newsom Administration by providing proposals on behalf of ACSS Members prior to the rank-and-file bargaining talks leading to the personal leave program and preceding the negotiation of new labor contracts. ACSS has a proven success record and we continue to make progress advocating on behalf of Members during these trying and unprecedented times.

On March 16 and 19, 2021, ACSS met with CalHR Chief of Labor Relations Paul Starkey to continue discussing salary and benefit issues for the State’s excluded employees. These ongoing meetings were agreed to as part of Mr. Starkey and CalHR Director Eraina Ortega’s commitment to ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein to address long-standing salary inequities and other issues affecting supervisory and managerial employees.

Some highlights from the meeting include:

  • CalHR has agreed to adjust salaries for certain supervising Administrative Law Judges retroactive to March 4, 2021. ACSS advocated for these salary adjustments to correct salary compaction with rank-and-file ALJs.
  • CalHR and the California Department of Public Health are reviewing ACSS’ request to realign the excluded employee Health Facilities Evaluator classifications bargaining unit affiliation to reflect the nursing status of all incumbents and to address related salary equity issues.
  • Salaries for the Food Services Supervisor classification will be reviewed to determine whether raises in July 2020 for subordinates created compaction that should be remedied through salary increases for supervisors.
  • CalHR and ACSS reviewed the status of pending ACSS’ proposals for various pay adjustments to correct salary inequities, create a new Peace Officer III classification at the Department of Developmental Services, and to provide state safety retirement for employees in the Nursing Consultant Program Review classification. CalHR’s review of these proposals continues.

ACSS strongly advocated for supervisory and managerial employees to be included among those provided “premium pay” as essential employees in responding to COVID-19. The $1.9 trillion federal American Rescue Plan Act relief package contains funding which may be used to provide “premium pay” to essential employees, not to exceed $13 per hour or $25,000 per worker. The Governor has wide discretion to provide this additional pay to workers he deems eligible. The Administration has indicated it will begin the process of determining eligibility with the “May Revise” to the proposed state budget. ACSS urged CalHR to provide the state supervisors and managers who have maintained the continuity of essential services during the pandemic with this additional pay. ACSS continues to engage in discussions with CalHR on this topic and advocate on behalf of members.

With the state budget situation vastly improved over the projections at the beginning of the pandemic, ACSS and CalHR discussed the likely end of the Personal Leave Program 2020. CalHR will be at the bargaining table with rank-and-file organizations to discuss the possible end of the PLP 2020 program and to negotiate new labor contracts with two bargaining units. Prior to those negotiations, ACSS will provide proposals for related excluded employees, as has been done before each round of bargaining during the Newsom Administration.

ACSS will continue to meet with CalHR on these issues and advocate for excluded employees interests as the state budget process continues.


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2021-22 Proposed State Budget: Governor Suggests a Possible End to the Personal Leave Program Effective July 1, 2021

Posted: 1/8/2021 Tags: budget legislation policy politics salary Tags Views: 3762

On January 8, 2021, Governor Gavin Newsom released his proposed 2021-2022 State Budget that will fund the government for the 12-month period starting July 1, 2021. This kicks off the nearly six-month process for the Legislature and Governor to negotiate and adopt a state budget.

The state spending proposal for next fiscal year would total just over $227 billion, with $164.5 billion in general fund expenditures. Regarding state employee compensation, the Governor’s budget proposal summary states:

“Although fiscal risk remains high, the revenue picture has improved. Given the updated revenue projections and the scope of the Budget, employee compensation reductions may not be necessary during the 2021-22 fiscal year.”

Director of Finance Keely Bosler stated the Administration hopes to be able to restore state employee salaries and will look at the budget picture again with the May Revision to the proposed state budget and make a determination at that time. With an improved state budget outlook and the Governor’s proposal, ACSS will advocate for the end of the PLP 2020 program for excluded employees effective July 1, 2021.

If adopted in the final state budget and implemented by CalHR, the end of the PLP 2020 program would mean that beginning July 1, 2021, excluded employees would no longer have a salary reduction of 9.23% and would no longer receive the 16 hours of “PLP 2020” leave credits. The Governor’s budget summary states that CalHR anticipates collective bargaining with rank-and-file organizations to modify the PLP 2020 program for rank-and-file employees.

In addition to the possible end of the PLP 2020, here is a quick rundown on a few items of interest to ACSS members:

  • $42.1 million in new funding for higher health care and dental costs for active state employees
  • An additional $616 million in one-time funding to prefund retiree healthcare (this makes up for the employee contribution being suspended for the current fiscal year and keeps the target date to eliminate retiree health care liabilities at 2046)
  • In addition to the $5.5 billion state employer contribution to CalPERS for state pension costs, an additional $1.5 billion supplemental pay down of retirement liabilities at CalPERS (with an additional $4.1 billion of supplemental payments proposed over the next three years to total an additional $5.6 billion)
  • $15.6 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and $2.9 billion in operating reserves
  • A permanent 5% reduction in state operating efficiencies (including reduced office and lease space)

As the proposed state budget progresses, ACSS will continue to meet with CalHR to advocate for supervisory and managerial employees. As we delve into more of the proposed budget details, we will report on any new positions and increased funding proposals for departments outlined in the full budget or if there are other proposals that impact ACSS and its members.

Read the complete ACSS State Budget Report from Legislative Advocate Ted Toppin at Blanning and Baker, Updated 1/15/2021

The Governor’s complete budget summary can be found here: Budget Summary (CA.gov)
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ACSS Call with CalHR and Finance - No Federal Funds to Reverse Employee Compensation Cuts

Posted: 10/15/2020 Tags: budget COVID-19 policy representation salary Tags Views: 2103

On October 14, ACSS joined CalHR Director Eraina Ortega and Chief Deputy Paul Starkey on a call with labor unions and employee organizations providing an update from Director of Finance Keely Bosler on the efforts to secure additional federal funding.

Triggers to Restore Employee Compensation Not Met

The 2020-2021 State Budget Act (AB 89) includes trigger language that would restore 18 categories of budget cuts if additional federal funds are available by October 15, 2020.

In a surprise to no one, Finance Director Bosler reported that no additional federal money was received by the deadline and therefore none of the Budget Act cuts will be restored.

Under Section 8.28 of the Budget Act, if $14 billion were received, the restored funding for employee compensation would add up to $1.89 billion which would end the PLP 2020 program (Section 3.90) and potentially restore the suspended general salary increases for state employees (Section 3.91). With receipt of federal funds by October 15 of more than $2 billion, but less than $14 billion, the restoration among the 18 budget categories would be proportional.

Although this means the PLP 2020 program will likely remain in place at least through the end of the budget year in June 2021, no additional state employee compensation cuts have been authorized by the Legislature.

Deficits Remain and Expenditures Up, but Budget Outlook Not as Dire as Projected in April 2020

Finance Director Bosler noted the Administration is continuing the effort to obtain needed federal funds as deficits are projected for the next few years. With any funds received after the October 15 Budget Act deadline, it is likely the Administration would work with the Legislature again to allocate those funds.

The Finance April 2020 economic forecast was bad, but thankfully was wrong with several months of revenue coming in higher than anticipated. At the same time expenditures related to wildfires have been higher than expected. While deficits will continue to be projected as the Governor’s 2021-2022 proposed budget is put together, they will be smaller deficits than originally projected.

There is no hard state hiring freeze as they want to continue to have flexibility to hire where needed. State departments will be getting instructions through a Finance budget letter to plan to reduce operating expenses by 5 percent for FY 21-22.


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Paychecks and a California Supreme Court Pension Ruling

Posted: 7/31/2020 Tags: benefits legislation pension policy representation retirement salary Tags Views: 2881

Pay Warrants

Not all of the July 1, 2020 adjustments and increases have made it into state employee pay warrants. Excluded employees related to the SEIU bargaining units (1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20 and 21) will see the $260 health affordability payment in a separate pay warrant, which appears to be on track to issue within approximately two weeks.

As expected, the pay warrants of excluded employees related to IUOE units 12 and 13 contain the “OPEB/CERBT” deduction for prefunding retiree healthcare. We await the pay letter and differential providing pay to offset this deduction. ACSS also expects implementation of a special salary adjustment for employees in the criminalist series and an adjustment to longevity pay for some S07 and M07 excluded employees.

An error at the State Controller’s Office resulted in too little being withheld from July paychecks for the employee portion of the required contribution toward retirement. The amount of the error varies based on salary, but is estimated to be near $100 for the highest earners and less for other employees. Next month’s paychecks will have the correct amount deducted for retirement. Next month will also include an additional one time employee deduction labeled as “*PERS ADJ” to collect the rest of the July employee retirement contribution. This means that state employees will not likely see the “correct” amount of their take home pay checks until the September pay period.

There are a very small number of ACSS members who were excluded by CalHR from expected special salary adjustments. ACSS will continue to work with CalHR to address these exclusions and other issues arising in connection with salary adjustments.

Pension Ruling Preserves the Core of the “California Rule”

The California Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling on July 30, 2020 in Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Association v. Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association. This significant pension case concerned pension cuts for local public employees following the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA) where overtime, callback and vacation pay were eliminated from pension calculations.

Although it is a local pension case, the legal issues concerned the long standing “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.

ACSS joined in the requests for the high court to hear this pension case to preserve the long-standing California Rule to protect from the possibility of your pension being changed by future legislation or through an initiative measure. With this California Supreme Court ruling, that goal was largely accomplished.

Although the court allowed the pension modifications challenged by the local unions, it did so by finding the changes closed loopholes to eliminate pension spiking. This narrow approach rejected the arguments to rescind or modify the California Rule and broadly allow changes to vested pension rights.

The ruling may present an opportunity for narrow pension modifications, but any modifications still have to meet stringent constitutional standards protected by the contracts clause. In short, the core defined benefit formulas and provisions governing state employee pensions and retirement calculations remain protected and unaffected by this decision.


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