State workers represented by California’s largest public employees union will take two furlough days per month for two years under an agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, according to details posted online Friday night.
The two furlough days for SEIU Local 1000 equate to a 9.23 percent pay reduction, but will be partially offset by suspended payments to retirement health care, according to the agreement. Workers may choose the days they take off.
The union, which represents about 100,000 state workers in custodial, administrative, nursing and a range of other roles, will also delay for two years a general salary increase of 2.5 percent that had been scheduled for July 1.
Some workers in hard-to-recruit job classifications will still receive special salary increases ranging from about a half-percent to about 10 percent, according to the agreement.
Local 1000 is the second state union to reach an agreement with the governor’s bargaining team after Newsom announced May 14 that he would pursue 10 percent pay cuts and cancel raises for state workers as part of an effort to address a projected $54 billion budget deficit caused by the coronavirus.
“We knew that at some point they were going to look to us, the state workforce, as they were building the state budget,” Local 1000 president Yvonne Walker said in a recorded video message to members. “You knew it, I knew it, and yes indeed they did.”
The California Correctional Peace Officers Association reached the first tentative agreement last week. That agreement included one furlough day, delayed raises and suspensions of holiday pay and other types of special pay, along with other changes.
Both unions’ agreements will soften the blow by reducing the monthly contributions workers make toward their retirement health plans. For CCPOA, the contribution would have been 4 percent for the fiscal year to come; for Local 1000 it would have been 3.5 percent.
The agreements require approval votes from members and will need to be approved by the Legislature.
From the start, Newsom’s proposal included caveats that specifically benefited Local 1000.
Last year, the union negotiated a novel $260-per-month stipend to help cover employees’ share of their health insurance. The contract retains those stipends.
Friday’s agreement expanded the stipend from primary policyholders on CalPERS health insurance plans to any workers who qualify for state health insurance, Walker said.
Walker said Friday that seasonal and temporary workers who are ineligible for the health insurance stipend will be exempted from furlough days.
Newsom’s May budget proposal called for raises to bring the state’s lowest-paid workers up to $15 per hour this year. That’s faster than the state’s general timeline for raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour for all workers by 2023. Local 1000 bargained for those raises last year.
Friday’s agreement gets those workers that raise a little earlier, on July 1 instead of Aug. 1.
The agreement includes provisions that would undo the pay cuts and furloughs if the state receives enough federal aid for the director of the Department of Finance to decide to restore workers’ pay.
It creates a cost savings task force charged with reducing state spending in 2021. If the task force fails to identify enough savings, a 2 percent general salary increase scheduled for July 1, 2021, will be delayed until July 1, 2022, according to the agreement.