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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: 2016

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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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: 3468

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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ACSS Board of Directors Discusses Political Endorsements, Chapter Meetings, and Elections

Posted: 5/4/2021 Tags: chapters election events legislation PAC Tags Views: 702

In the past few weeks, the ACSS Board of Directors has met on two occasions to discuss important Association business. On one occasion, the Board met for a special session to quickly and decisively vote to support Governor Gavin Newsom in his efforts to fight the recall. ACSS’ contributions were noted in Politico’s news article, posted April 29, 2021. Most recently on May 1, the Board held a regular meeting and made further political endorsements:

Legislative

  • Dr. Angelov (Angelo) Farooq (SD 31, 2024) – Dr. Farooq is currently a member of the Board of Education for Riverside Unified School District. He is also the Chairman of the California Workforce Development Board, appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom. In addition, he serves at a high level on several councils that focus on education, economic development, women’s health, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

CalPERS 2021 Election

  • David Miller (Board of Administration, At Large Seat A) – ACSS endorsed David Miller during the previous election for his current position on the CalPERS Board. David Miller continues to protect pensions, improve health benefits and provide transparency on behalf of CalPERS members.
  • Jose Luis Pacheco (Board of Administration, At Large Seat B) – Mr. Pacheco has a strong background in labor and is a current member of the South Bay Labor Council in San Jose. He also serves on councils that support credit unions, breast cancer, and Latino issues. He promises to protect pensions, improve healthcare programs, and act as the voice that represents CalPERS members.

The CalPERS candidates endorsed by the ACSS Board are running for statewide seats voted on by current state employees including state managers and supervisors as well as retired state and public employees.

The ACSS Board of Directors also discussed the return of Chapter meetings via virtual format as well as future in-person meetings. We are in the process of training and preparation for holding Chapter meetings again and we look forward to providing members with a virtual outlet to discuss ACSS activities, updates, and topics that are important to excluded employees.

As you may already be aware, ACSS Elections for Chapter Offices and Delegates are now open until May 21, 2021. Please remember to visit the ACSS Election Portal and cast your vote for local leaders to represent your voice. Delegate Assembly 2021 is slated for October 8-10 at the Sheraton Grand in Sacramento.


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Leave Buy-Back Program Authorized for Excluded Employees

Posted: 4/20/2021 Tags: benefits legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 2146

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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CalHR Issues Telework Update to State Agencies

Posted: 4/7/2021 Tags: COVID-19 legislation policy representation Tags Views: 2208

On April 6, 2021 California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) Director Eraina Ortega provided a telework update to state departments. Director Ortgea confirmed the Administration’s direction is to continue keeping eligible employees on telework schedules and that the emergency telework policy remains in effect. Within that framework, each department is directed to assess the appropriate level of telework that it will maintain, based on operational needs and employee safety.

Director Ortega’s message noted the Administration continues to support telework as a long-term strategy to decrease office space, allow flexibility for employees, and provide resiliency in the case of future emergencies. Departments are encouraged to think about work culture for the near future including hybrid workplaces, hoteling strategies, and ways to improve communications and collaboration. Departments are also encouraged to get feedback from employees on their telework experiences to help make decisions going forward.

Telework remains a prominent topic of decisions in ACSS’ meetings with CalHR. Director Ortega has informed ACSS that CalHR plans to introduce more telework training in the near future for supervisors and managers.

The state is continuing their effort to update the statewide Telework Policy. It is anticipated that once the statewide policy is finalized, that individual departments will adopt their own telework policies. ACSS has been involved with CalHR throughout discussions in regards to this topic. ACSS will continue to meet with the state over proposed departmental telework policies to protect the interests of excluded employees.

If you have questions about telework, 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: 2762

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: 3696

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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CalHR Issues Guidance to State Agencies in Implementing New CalOSHA COVID-19 Prevention and Response Standards

Posted: 12/22/2020 Tags: COVID-19 legislation policy Tags Views: 1390

The Division of Occupational Safety & Health (CalOSHA) recently adopted new emergency temporary standards for COVID-19 prevention and response in workplaces. On December 18, 2020 California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) Director Eraina Ortega provided guidance to state departments to ensure the temporary CalOSHA standards are part of each department’s written plan to prevent and respond to COVID-19.

The CalOSHA emergency regulations require most California employers to adopt COVID-19 prevention programs and policies to ensure safe distancing, require face coverings, and adhere to new testing and reporting requirements.

State departments have already implemented many of the new standards. CalHR’s direction highlights potential changes as follows:

  • to ensure confidentiality of employees, departments should not identify the specific number of cases if fewer than 11 are reported
  • face coverings are required in open cubicles and can only be removed when alone in a room
  • departments must provide testing to all employees in an “exposed workplace” defined as three or more COVID-19 cases in a 14-day period (an exposed workplace is not the whole building or department, but the area where cases were present)
  • testing must be on state work time with no out-of-pocket employee costs with testing continuing until the workplace outbreak is over
  • major outbreaks (20 or more cases in 30-days) require additional testing
  • employee screening processes are required for all departments (self-screening is allowed)
  • employees with a “COVID-19 exposure” (within six feet from an infected person for a total of 15 minutes in 24 hours) are excluded from the workplace and provided telework or ATO

Director Ortega’s direction to departments contains links to relevant guidance, CalOSHA standards, FAQs, etc. The CalHR direction can be viewed here.

If you have questions about the guidance or impact of the CalOSHA regulations, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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CalHR Orders Most State Offices Closed in Response to the New Stay at Home Order

Posted: 12/4/2020 Tags: benefits COVID-19 legislation policy Tags Views: 1994

On December 3, 2020 California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) Director Eraina Ortega notified state department leadership that effective Monday, December 7, with some exceptions, state offices will close in response to the California Department of Public Health’s new Stay at Home Order. Offices will remain closed for at least three weeks.

Departments must immediately review their Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government plans and determine which critical functions require staff to continue to report to the workplace. The CalHR direction provides that “all staff not performing critical functions at the workplace should remain at home teleworking, or if no telework is available, provided Administrative Time Off (ATO).”

The “critical functions” of essential government services has not changed and includes:

  • Government Leadership
  • Emergency Management
  • Social Services/Education
  • Information Technology/ Communication
  • Public Safety/Regulatory Enforcement
  • Medical/Health
  • Critical Infrastructure
  • Food Supply
  • Environmental Protection
  • Public Information
  • Unemployment Insurance Claims Processing
  • 24/7 Institutions (prisons, state hospitals, veterans homes, etc.)
  • Essential Government Services

The CalHR instruction includes prioritizing telework for at risk employees (age 65 or older and those with chronic health conditions) and providing telework for all employees eligible for telework. ATO is only provided as a “last resort.” When ATO is approved, it is approved regardless of an employee’s available leave balance.

If you have questions about the new Stay at Home Order and CalHR direction, please contact your ACSS Labor Relations Representative.


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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: 2852

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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