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ACSS Seeks to Mitigate Impact of Employee Compensation Reduction Proposals

Posted: 5/22/2020 Tags: benefits COVID-19 legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 1214

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.


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California Supreme Court Hears Argument in Local Pension Case

Posted: 5/5/2020 Tags: benefits legislation pension policy retirement Tags Views: 486

The California Supreme Court held oral argument on May 5, 2020 in Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Association v. Alameda County Employees’ Retirement Association. This is one of the two significant pension cases pending before the state high court concerning pension cuts for local public employees following the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (PEPRA).

Although it is a local pension case, the legal issues argued may impact 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 these types of pension cases 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.

In Alameda, the Deputy Sheriff's union and others challenged the elimination of overtime pay, on-call pay, call-back pay, vacation and sick leave sold back, recruitment bonuses, and other items from pension calculations. The lower appellate court had ruled that many of these pension cuts for current employees were legal, but ruled some pension benefits required further review under the California Rule. Allowing the pension reductions for current employees is a significant deviation from the California Rule. Both sides had asked the high court to review the case.

At oral argument, the county retirement boards argued that including these “pension spiking” items in a pension calculation was never lawful and that employees had no reasonable expectation that they would be included in a pension calculation for future service. The unions argued that this deferred compensation cannot be changed for existing employees during their public employee careers.

It is unclear whether the Supreme Court’s decision in this case will be decided on broad constitutional grounds with possible impacts on the California Rule and implications for all public employees and their pensions, or will be decided on a narrow basis, affecting only the parties to the litigation or local employers and employees. The matter was taken under submission with a decision expected in the next month or two.

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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CalHR Increases Commute Reimbursement for ALL Excluded Employees; ACSS Advocacy on Salaries Continues

Posted: 2/20/2020 Tags: benefits legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 1429

CalHR has announced the reimbursement amount for transit passes and vanpools will increase by $35 per month for all supervisors, managers, and confidential employees. Effective February 1, 2020, excluded employees will be eligible for 75% reimbursement for public transit passes, up to $100 per month. Vanpool riders will be reimbursed 75% of the monthly fee, up to $100 per month, and vanpool drivers will receive $135 per month.

When SEIU Local 1000 representing rank-and-file bargaining units negotiated an increase in commute reimbursement amounts, ACSS immediately proposed that CalHR extend the increases to all excluded employees. After several meetings with CalHR where this topic was discussed, we are pleased that CalHR has adopted ACSS’ proposal and extended the increased commute reimbursement amounts to all excluded employees, regardless of bargaining unit affiliation.

What’s Next for the Remainder of the 2019-2020 Fiscal Year?
CalHR is expected to implement adjustments to bilingual pay, recruitment & retention for the Correctional Case Records series, and an increase in the call center differential. ACSS has met with CalHR and requested these same increases for excluded employees. CalHR will soon implement salary adjustments for Bargaining Unit 18. ACSS has requested CalHR provide at least the same salary increases for supervisors, managers and confidential employees, in addition to correcting standing salary inequities and compaction issues.

What About July 1, 2020 Increases?
Sixteen of the state’s 21 bargaining units are scheduled for salary increases July 1, 2020. The other five will be in negotiations this spring to adjust salaries. In addition to continued advocacy with CalHR for salary increases and corrections to salary inequities, ACSS is working to ensure the state budget contains funding for salary and benefit increases for excluded employees. While the state budget remains subject to the May Revise and legislative approval, at this point we are optimistic that the budget will adequately fund general salary increases and many special salary adjustments for excluded employees.


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ACSS and CalHR Discuss Pay Equity and Other Issues that Affect Excluded Employees

Posted: 10/10/2019 Tags: benefits legislation policy representation salary Tags Views: 2704

On October 8, 2019, ACSS met with CalHR Director Eraina Ortega to continue discussions regarding the Newsom Administration’s approach to salary and benefits improvement for the State’s excluded employees. Director Ortega and her Labor Relations staff, led by Deputy Director and Chief of Labor Relations Paul Starkey, met with ACSS President Todd D’Braunstein, ACSS Executive Director Rocco Paternoster and key staff, along with ACSS Legislative Advocate Ted Toppin.

President D’Braunstein thanked CalHR for recently implementing Family Care Leave and new Emergency Pay rules for excluded employees – two long standing ACSS priorities. He also thanked Director Ortega for the new process allowing ACSS to submit excluded employee salary and benefit proposals related to bargaining units at the same time CalHR is negotiating with those bargaining units.

In our continued efforts to aggressively advocate for solutions to solve compaction, ACSS noted progress made in addressing salary compaction, but many excluded employee classifications remain within 5 percent of subordinate classes. Director Ortega confirmed salary setting for excluded employees will be more flexible in the future and CalHR will not be as constrained by a practice of limiting salary differentials to 5 percent.

ACSS reiterated previously submitted proposals for pay and benefit equity with rank-and-file units and proposals to correct salary inequities. ACSS discussed the need to restore vertical salary relationships between classifications and explore other incentives to promote to excluded classifications.

Chief of Labor Relations Paul Starkey noted CalHR was in the process of realigning labor relations staff to more effectively respond to and address excluded employee issues raised by ACSS and affecting our members. Director Ortega and Mr. Starkey confirmed a commitment to working with ACSS now to review many of the long-standing compensation issues ACSS has identified. We anticipate scheduling interim meetings to discuss specific proposals with CalHR Labor Relations. CalHR has promised feedback and is evaluating improvements to the process for sharing salary and benefit related decisions with ACSS.

President D’Braunstein thanked Director Ortega and her staff for making excluded employee issues a priority and for committing to review and respond to issues and proposals made by ACSS. As always, ACSS will continue to keep members informed of issues that affect excluded employees as they arise.


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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: 5225

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: 3313

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: 1298

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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CalPERS Benefits Education Event in Costa Mesa - Aug. 9 and 10

Posted: 8/1/2019 Tags: benefits retirement Tags Views: 749

The California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) is hosting a two-day CalPERS Benefits Education Event (CBEE) in Costa Mesa to inform members in a 5-county area about programs and benefits available to them. This event will take place at the Hilton Orange County on Friday, August 9, and Saturday, August 10, 2019. The same program is offered on each day, so attendees can select the day they wish to attend.

Whether new to CalPERS, in mid-career, or close to retirement, CBEEs offer all CalPERS members a wealth of information about their retirement and health benefits, supplemental savings plans, long-term care coverage, and more. Representatives from CalPERS Regional Offices will be on hand to answer questions.

Open both Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the event features breakout sessions specific to both early through mid-career members, and those nearing retirement. Topics to be covered include CalPERS retirement benefits, CalPERS health benefits, and deferred compensation.

Click here for more information and to register for this event


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Family Care Leave in Effect as of July 1, 2019

Posted: 7/1/2019 Tags: benefits legislation policy Tags Views: 1775

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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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: 1652

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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