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Some California state workers could see double-digit raises in contract for blue collar union

Some California state workers could see double-digit raises in contract for blue collar union

From the June 10 recap: Napa Valley news you may have missed today series
  • Updated
California capitol building

The California state capitol building in Sacramento.

Blue-collar California state workers in 52 different jobs will receive special pay bumps of 4% to 7% on top of general raises as early as July under a new contract agreement.

The International Union of Operating Engineers, which represents a group of about 11,000 employees ranging from groundskeepers and painters to divers and ferryboat masters, recently reached a contract agreement that starts July 1 and runs through June 2023.

The tentative two-year contract agreement includes a 5.06% raise for all represented workers in the first pay period after union members ratify the deal, and another raise of 2.25% in July 2022.

It includes a number of special pay perks for employees in high-cost counties, as well retention bonuses for workers committing to assignments in certain state prisons.

About 7,000 of the employees will receive the special salary adjustments on top of the general raises, union representative Brandy Johnson said. The state offered the special raises to help with recruitment and retention, which Johnson said is a major issue across the bargaining unit.

"The administration has addressed some of our classification concerns but not all of them," she said. "It's a step in the right direction but it doesn't address all of our issues."

Nearly all of the special salary adjustments are for 4% or 5%. All employees receiving them will get an increase in the fiscal year that starts July 1, and many will receive another increase of the same percentage in July 2022.

Just three job classifications, all drillers, will receive 7% raises, and they'll receive them in each of the two years.

The state tends to offer special salary increases for hard-to-fill positions or when salary surveys show pay for certain job classifications dropping behind other employers.

Last year, the union negotiated a one-year contract with Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration, accepting in it the pay cuts all state workers took as lawmakers prepared for a $54 billion budget deficit.

The deficit never materialized, and Newsom's administration has been negotiating new agreements to restore employees' pay over the last three weeks against the backdrop of a massive budget surplus.

The IUOE's agreement undoes the 9.23% pay cuts, and workers will no longer receive two days off per month under last year's furlough-like agreements.

Employees will have to resume contributions to their retirement health insurance, but contributions will drop to 4.1% for the group of IUOE workers, down from the previous 4.6%, according to the agreement. The unit shifted from a standard contribution to a cost-sharing agreement that could result in adjustments of a half-percent to the contributions from year to year, Johnson said.

The agreement introduces 5% geographical pay differentials for employees working in the greater Bay Area counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma.

The deal expands prison retention bonuses to five more prisons. The state now will pay the $2,600-per-year bonuses to employees at Pelican Bay, High Desert, RJ Donovan, Sierra Conservation and the California Correctional Center in addition to the Avenal, Chuckwalla, Ironwood, Centinela and Calapatria prisons.

And it increases stipends for uniforms, tools and footwear, along with bumping up differentials for night and rotating shifts. And the agreement increases mass transit and vanpool stipends.

Additionally, the agreement extends the amount of time the state may keep negative information in employees' personnel files to three years.

The change brings the union's contract into agreement with a December ruling from the Fifth District Court of Appeal that said a contract provision that allowed employees to purge negative information from their files once a year violated merit principles in the state constitution.

Developers are moving closer towards starting construction on 53 homes, including 13 extra units, at the Vintage High School farm site in Napa. Here's a look at the site as it is today.

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