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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: 1507

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.

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: 658

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: 1438

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: 2347

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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CalHR Issues Pay Letters and Pay Differentials Adjusting Pay

Posted: 7/17/2020 Tags: benefits budget COVID-19 legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 4458

This week CalHR issued a series of Pay Letters and Pay Differentials adjusting pay for excluded employees. CalHR confirmed to ACSS that the expectation remains that the State Controller’s Office will implement the major changes with the July pay period. This means the next paychecks are expected to include the following:

Personal Leave Program 2020 – a reduction in pay of 9.23% (equivalent to two days’ pay) and accrual of 16 hours of personal leave credit, to be used in the same manner as vacation/annual leave and before any other paid leave (except sick leave).

Suspension of “OPEB/CERBT” Employee Contribution – excluded employees will not pay the contribution to prefund retiree healthcare. The contributions range generally from 2 percent to 4.6 percent of salary. Excluded employees related to bargaining units 12 and 13 will continue to see the deduction, but will receive a pay differential in an equivalent amount. (This pay differential has not yet issued, but is expected to be retroactive to July 1, 2020 if not implemented with the July pay warrant.)

Although General Salary Increases effective July 1, 2020 were suspended or deferred, Merit Salary Adjustments for employees not at the top step of their classifications are unaffected and will continue.

Exempt and Excluded Employees Associated with SEIU Bargaining Units (1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21)

  • $260 per month taxable cash benefit to improve access and affordability of healthcare
  • Geographic Pay of $250 per month for employees working in Orange, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties
  • Special Salary Adjustments (generally 5%) for employees in nearly 100 classifications

>>Click here to review the Pay Letter listing the excluded employee classifications receiving the SSA increases.

Exempt and Excluded Employees Associated with Unit 18

  • A General Salary Increase of 2.75% retroactive to January 1, 2020
  • A Special Salary Adjustment at the top step of 2.5%, effective July 1, 2020 (S18 and M18 employees at the top step of the class for 12 months or more will receive the increase immediately; others will receive the increase through Merit Salary Adjustments when eligible)

As of today, ACSS awaits a Pay Letter implementing expected salary adjustments for S07 and M07 excluded employees related to the Criminalist series and changes to longevity pay, and a change to a pay differentials for DSH Police Officers and S16 and M16 employees for Continuing Medical Education expenses.

ACSS’ initial review has identified a few anomalies in the Special Salary Adjustments. We will pursue clarification and possible corrections or potential amendments to the Pay Letters with CalHR.


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Excluded Employee Compensation Plan for 2020-2021


The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) has released the outline of the excluded employee pay plan for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. We are pleased that the outline contains most of the items ACSS has advocated for in light of the Administration’s mandated state employee compensation decreases due to the large state budget deficits related to the ongoing pandemic.

The exempt and excluded pay plan effective July 1, 2020 includes:

  • Two day-per month Personal Leave Program (PLP) reducing compensation by 9.23% and providing 16 hours of leave credit per month. The PLP credit will not need to be used in the month it is accrued, but taken before other paid leave (except sick leave).
  • Suspending employee payments to pre-fund retiree health care. The deduction is shown on your pay warrant as “OPEB/CERBT”. The deductions for employees related to units 12 and 13 will continue, but be offset by a pay differential.
  • General Salary Increases are suspended.
  • Special Salary Adjustments and Pay Differentials will be extended to exempt and excluded employees where appropriate.
  • All employees related to the nine SEIU Local 1000 bargaining units (1, 3, 4, 11, 14, 15, 17, 20, and 21) will receive a $260 per month taxable cash benefit to offset health care costs.
  • The Vacation/Annual Leave Cap is increased by the amount of the PLP accrued for excluded employees related to bargaining units 2, 9, 10 and 19.

CalHR is working on pay letters to implement the details of the leave program and special salary and pay differential adjustments. CalHR expects to issue a series of pay letters “in the coming weeks” and has informed ACSS they are working with the State Controller’s Office to try to implement the majority of the salary adjustments in the July pay period.

As the pay letters are developed, ACSS will continue advocacy with CalHR to ensure excluded employees receive all appropriate special salary adjustments and pay differentials and will keep you informed regarding the expected timing of the pay adjustments.


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Excluded Employee Compensation Update – Personal Leave Program


The employee compensation reductions called for by the Governor and reflected in the state budget are coming into focus. The Legislature encouraged rank-and-file groups to agree to reductions through collective bargaining. Without those agreements, the Legislature would authorize employee compensation reductions. Two groups have reached agreement, including SEIU Local 1000 representing nine of the State’s 21 bargaining units and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), representing Bargaining Unit 6.

The Local 1000 agreement gives a road map to other bargaining units and sets the expectations for likely excluded employee compensation adjustments – a two-day per month “Personal Leave Program” offset in part by suspending the employee contribution to pre-fund retiree health care. This framework is consistent with the approach ACSS has advocated for in light of the excluded employee compensation reductions required by the recent COVID-19 related budget deficits being addressed by the revised state budget.

SEIU Local 1000 Agreement

The tentative agreement or “Side Letter” to modify the Local 1000 labor contract includes the following for rank-and-file employees:

  • Two day-per month Personal Leave Program (PLP) reducing compensation by 9.23% and providing 16 hours of leave credit per month for two years
  • Suspending employee payments to pre-fund retiree health care for two years; employees will not pay this contribution which would otherwise increase to 3.5% effective July 1, 2020
  • All employees will receive $260 per month to offset health care costs
  • Defers the 2.5% July 1, 2020 general salary increase for two years (the 2% increase scheduled for July 1, 2021 is not impacted)
  • Special Salary Adjustments (generally 5%) for 176 classifications of employees will still be paid effective July 1, 2020
  • If federal money is received and/or state budget revenue allows, the cuts and deferrals could end early

Under the PLP, employees work their full schedules. The reductions do not change salary ranges and do not impact benefits or retirement calculations. PLP credits do not count toward the vacation/annual leave cap and need to be used before other paid leave, except sick leave.

With the $260 per month and suspension of the retiree health contribution, the PLP reductions of 9.23% will be significantly mitigated for most employees. Some employees receiving special salary adjustments will still see small increases in their paychecks despite the PLP reductions.

What This Means for Excluded Employees

The Administration has made clear it intends to tie excluded employees to their related bargaining units in achieving salary savings. It is expected that other bargaining units will reach agreements for two-days of PLP, offset in part by suspending the employee contribution to pre-fund retiree health care.

CCPOA representing Bargaining Unit 6 (correctional officers) agreed to a one-day PLP and to different compensation reductions including holiday pay reductions and suspension of night and weekend shift differentials. It is not likely that other units will be able to find enough cost savings to meet the required reductions to avoid a second day of PLP.

ACSS has pushed for any compensation cuts for excluded employees to be offset in part by suspending the pre-funding of retiree health care. ACSS has also made clear to CalHR that the $260 per month health care affordability payment and the special salary adjustments must also be provided to all related excluded employees to avoid salary compaction issues.

With the SEIU Local 1000 Side Letter tentative agreement, we have reached out to CalHR to reiterate these requests and to also ensure that a fair package is in place for excluded employees not directly related to a bargaining unit. Should any rank-and-file unit not reach agreement and instead allow salary reductions to be imposed, ACSS will work to ensure that the reductions for related excluded employees are equitable.

As bills approving agreements reached by rank-and-file organizations are presented to the Legislature for approval, ACSS will continue its aggressive advocacy in protecting the employment interests of excluded employees. ACSS will also keep you informed with the latest information regarding your salaries and benefits.


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CDPH Releases Guidance Requiring Californians to Wear Face Coverings

Posted: 6/18/2020 Tags: COVID-19 legislation policy representation Tags Views: 1286

The California Department of Public Health today released an updated guidance that requires Californians to wear a face covering in high-risk settings. A growing body of scientific research has shown that people with no or few symptoms of COVID-19 can still spread the disease and that the use of face coverings, combined with physical distancing and frequent hand washing, will reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Governor Gavin Newsom said, “We are seeing too many people with faces uncovered – putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease. Science shows that face coverings and masks work. They are critical to keeping those who are around you safe, keeping businesses open and restarting our economy.”

Today's guidance mandates the use of cloth face coverings by the general public statewide when outside the home, with limited exceptions. The guidance outlines scenarios in which wearing a face covering is required and also outlines those who are exempt from wearing a face covering.

More information about the state's COVID-19 guidance is on the California Department of Public Health's Guidance web page.

More information about reopening California and what individuals can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) in California.


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Excluded Employee Compensation Questions Remain Even as the Legislature Prepares to Pass a State Budget

Posted: 6/11/2020 Tags: bargaining legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 3614

The State Budget continues to evolve as the Legislature and Governor continue negotiations, which include the details of possible pay raises along with reductions in state employee compensation.

With a legislative rule that bills must be in print for 72 hours, the Legislature on June 10, 2020 released the latest version of the State Budget in Senate Bill 808. The Legislature is expected to pass this version of the State Budget with votes on the June 15 constitutional deadline. What it means for excluded employee compensation is far from clear, and additional legislative action impacting state employee compensation outside the main State Budget bill remains likley.

Senate Bill 808 includes funding for the previously planned July 1, 2020 excluded employee salary increases and funding for raises included in bargaining unit labor contracts. While this is potentially good news, the possibility remains that the Governor could use his budget authority to remove this funding from the State Budget and not provide those July 1, 2020 pay raises to excluded employees.

With Senate Bill 808, the Legislature also expects that employee compensation will be reduced by approximately ten percent, to be achieved through collective bargaining and reductions for excluded employees. If those compensation decreases and savings are not in place by July 1, 2020, the Legislature “expects to pursue alternative legislative options” to authorize those reductions, presumably through a personal leave program or furloughs for excluded employees.

Also of concern, if additional federal funding is not obtained by September 1, 2020, trigger language may authorize additional employee compensation reductions beginning October 1, 2020. The details and intent of this language are uncertain.

With this framework, a lot will depend on collective bargaining and agreements to reduce compensation and the Governor’s action regarding the possible July 1, 2020 general salary increases and special salary adjustments.

ACSS’ legislative advocates and legal team are continuing to advocate for the interests of excluded employees. As “budget trailer bills” and bills approving any agreements reached by rank-and-file organizations are presented to the legislature for approval and funding, ACSS will continue its aggressive advocacy for excluded employees. While we await more clarity from the adoption of the final State Budget and any impacts from collective bargaining, ACSS will also continue advocacy with CalHR over salaries and the details of any temporary reductions to excluded employee compensation.


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Legislature’s Version of the State Budget Avoids Suspending Salary Increases and Delays Possible Salary Reductions

Posted: 6/5/2020 Tags: budget legislation legislature representation salary Tags Views: 3855

Legislative leadership has announced agreement between the Senate and Assembly on a legislative version of the 2020-2021 State Budget. The Legislature has proposed its own version of the budget modifying the Governor’s proposed May Revision budget. While there is still a long way to go before a final state budget agreement is reached, the “Legislature’s Version” of the budget differs from the Governor’s May Revision in significant ways concerning state employee compensation.

The Governor’s May Revision budget proposal would suspend all planned pay raises for July 1, 2020 and would also temporarily reduce employee compensation by 10 percent. The temporary cuts would be “triggered off” if federal money is received by the state.

The Legislature’s Version instead assumes that congress will pass an economic stimulus package, noting there is “growing confidence” that federal funds will be received. If the federal funds are not received by September 1, 2020, trigger cuts for employee compensation would be authorized effective October 1, 2020. The details of the proposed employee compensation reduction authority are not yet published in bill form.

The Legislature’s Version notes that it “excludes proposed savings related to employee pay and suspending employee pay increases.” If this version of the budget were adopted, it would not authorize the Administration to furlough state employees or cut pay. It is uncertain whether the Governor could (or would) take action through the state budget process to suspend the planned July 1, 2020 salary increases. The Legislature also notes that state employee unions are being asked to agree to cost saving reductions through the collective bargaining process. The results of collective bargaining could also impact compensation for related excluded employees.

The Legislature’s Version of the state budget has not been published in bill form. The details of the employee compensation sections of the budget will matter. Negotiations between the Legislature and the Governor over the treatment of state employee compensation will continue with a budget resolution expected by the June 15 constitutional deadline. ACSS’ legislative advocates will be there to continue to protect the interests of excluded employees.


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