2018 Bargaining Updates

August 2, 2018

Compensation for Advanced Degrees. It’s no secret that State Scientists are underpaid relative to their counterparts in the private sector and other government agencies.  Even with state service, Scientists are paid far less than other state professionals doing comparably complex work.  State Scientists required to have a Bachelor’s degree as a minimum aren’t paid comparably with other professionals also required to have this basic advanced degree.  The problem is especially egregious among State Scientists required to have a Masters, Ph.D. or Doctor of Medicine as a condition of employment.  None of them receive recognition or compensation for the additional time, effort and money required to achieve their advanced level specialty.

High Cost Living Ignored Too Long.  

CAPS Experts Speak To CalHR. 

Maureen Dutra:

Length – 6:17 minutes

Rachel Broadwin: Oakland Research Scientist III Rachel Broadwin of OEHHA describes some of the important work being done by Research Scientists, and the need for competitive salaries.
Link- https://vimeo.com/282718804
Length – 4:23 minutes

Jimmy Spearow:  Sacramento Staff Toxicologist (Specialist) Jimmy Spearow explains to CalHR the important roles that State Toxicologists have in making California a leader in Toxicology, and why compensation for Toxicologists is far below market minimums.
Length – 8:26 minutes

Allison Shirer:  Los Angeles Senior Environmental (Specialist) Allison Shirer speaks with authority on the critical need for special salary adjustments for State Scientists who live and work in higher cost-of-living geographic regions in California.
Link – https://vimeo.com/274984475
Length – 6:45 minutes

Simona Balan:  Watch Senior ES (Specialist)Simona Balan describe the harsh reality of making ends meet while working and living in the Bay Area.
Length- 6:58 minutes

CDFW Environmental Scientist Needs Your Help. Sean Windell is an Environmental Scientist in CDFW’s Water Branch in Sacramento.  He has a serious medical condition, he’s on medical leave, he’s exhausted all his leave credits, and Sean needs catastrophic leave donations in order to keep getting a paycheck.  Please help if you can.

These leave credits may be donated as catastrophic leave: CTO, Personal Leave, Annual Leave, Vacation, Personal Day, and/or Holiday Credit.

Section 3.10 of the CAPS MOU allows transfer of annual leave, CTO, personal leave, vacation and/or holiday leave credits from one employee to another when a catastrophic situation is confirmed. Sick leave credits cannot be transferred. If you wish to donate any of your leave credits, other than sick leave, please complete Sean’s Catastrophic Leave Donation Form and forward it directly to:

Nicole Piumatti, Personnel Specialist
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
1416 Ninth Street, Room 1270
Sacramento, CA  95814

Please direct any questions regarding employee leave balances and the actual transfer process to your Personnel Specialist. Mr. Windell and CAPS extend our thanks in advance for your support!

Get Paid To Bicycle. The state’s new bicycle commute program provides $20 per month – up to $240 annually – to employees who regularly commute to work via bicycle.  That means riding a bike at least 50% of their scheduled working days for the calendar month.  Participants must submit a quarterly claim form to their department for approval.  Payments are issued by the State Controller’s Office in the same manner as payroll, either by warrant or direct deposit.  The payments are taxable.  See more here: CalHR’s website through this link.

July 26, 2018

CalHR’s Compensation Offer…CalHR on Tuesday FINALLY made a compensation offer in contract bargaining.  Your CAPS Team replied with this description: Late, Inadequate and Incomplete. There is still time to reach agreement on an acceptable package prior to the Legislature’s Friday, August 24 deadline for reviewing and approving new labor agreements. CAPS will make every effort to do just that, and is scheduled to meet next with CalHR on Wednesday, August 15. Before then, the CAPS Team wants to hear from you and all CAPS members. Here’s a summary of the CalHR offer:

General Salary Increases. CalHR proposed a GSI of 4% on July 1, 2019 and 3.5% on July 1, 2020. These would follow the 5% increase already in effect on July 1, 2018. (Meanwhile, the cost of living as measured by the US Department of Labor is approximately 3.2%.)

Geographic Pay Differential. CalHR proposed a monthly $250 differential, but only for State Scientists whose worksite is located in the following counties: Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara and San Francisco. This would not be considered as compensation for the purposes of retirement contributions. The CalHR proposal would NOT apply in Southern California or other counties typically recognized as high cost. This was in response to CAPS’ demand for recognition of sizeable cost-of-living differentials in high cost areas throughout California.

Educational Pay Differential. This CalHR proposal would provide a 2% monthly pay differential for those in a classification requiring a Master’s degree, and 3% for those in a classification requiring a doctoral degree or degree of Doctor of Medicine. This would not be considered as compensation for the purposes of retirement contributions. While low, the CalHR proposal finally recognizes CAPS’ pressure for increased compensation for State Scientists in classifications that require an advanced degree as a condition of employment.

Retirement Changes. CalHR proposed changes in California state law that would require State Scientists to share cost increases for retirement up to 1% annually, and for increases in the cost of post-retirement health and dental benefits (CERBT) up to 0.5% annually.

CalHR Proposal Incomplete. Missing from the CalHR proposal was a response to CAPS’ demands for increases to diving pay for Fish and Wildlife divers, modest increases in uniform and safety shoe allowances, emergency pay for certain State Scientists not normally entitled to earn overtime, increases to the reimbursement amount for attending professional conferences, improvements to Parental Leave, and many others.

CAPS Demanded MORE! The Team emphasized its demand for full Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists, or a firm, definite roadmap to get there. None of this exists in the CalHR proposal. CAPS emphasized that an agreement won’t be possible without this basic condition being met.

Agreement Reached on Non Discrimination. CAPS and CalHR agreed to rollover Section 13.7 which ensures that neither party will discriminate against any employee based on a host of protected categories including age, race, sex, it religious creed, color, national origin, etc.

One New Proposal from CAPS. Your CAPS Team proposed to amend existing language on Annual Leave (section 3.13) to allow State Scientists to switch enrollment between Annual Leave and traditional Sick Leave accrual based on serious health-related issues, including pregnancy.

We Want YOUR Input!  As a CAPS member, we value your input, and we need it! There won’t be any agreement absent a clear understanding by the CAPS Bargaining Team that the parameters reached have an excellent chance of being ratified by a majority of CAPS members in a ratification vote. So please, answer the following simple questionnaire and leave your comments. Your CAPS Team will read every word and take them to heart! Find the questionnaire here.

CAPSule on the Web. The latest issue is now posted on the CAPS webpage.  Watch for the July issue in your mailbox soon!

Long Hot Summer
July 19, 2018

Still No Mention of MONEY from CalHR, Just Possible Retirement Changes.  Your CAPS Bargaining Team met again Tuesday with Governor Brown’s negotiators from CalHR.  Incredibly, they had no offer for compensation, instead indicating it isn’t unusual for negotiations to continue into August. Instead, after a few less important developments described below, the parties agreed to meet again next Tuesday, July 24.

CalHR’s failure to make a salary offer to CAPS isn’t the only place it’s happening.  While State Scientists received a 5% general salary increase this month, state Engineers have received no increase whatsoever, and negotiations for a raise in Unit 9 have reached no conclusion.

Money Money Money! In CAPS’ negotiations, there are very few issues outstanding other than those requiring money. That means salary equity, geographic differentials, emergency pay, uniform allowance, increases to business and travel expense reimbursements, professional society dues, etc.

Retirement Cuts?! Especially troubling is to hear at this late date that the Governor and CalHR may yet propose changes to retirement benefits for State Scientists.  Any proposed reduction in retirement benefits for State Scientists, either those currently in service or newly hired, would be a DEAL BREAKER. That was made clear to CalHR’s negotiators – – CAPS will NEVER agree to any such cuts. Nevertheless, CAPS will continue negotiate in good faith, something that CalHR at this point seems to have a hard time doing.

Minor Agreements Reached. One was a significant rollover of language allowing State Scientists to voluntarily reduce their work schedule in exchange for receiving Personal Leave credits. This program (MOU Section 3.19) is less popular with state management because it creates a continuing unfunded liability, something that Governor Brown has sought to substantially reduce through annual buybacks of up to 80 hours.

Bicycle Incentive. The other minor agreement relates to a $20 monthly incentive for commuting to work via bicycle. The program will not appear in the CAPS MOU but will continue to be available to State Scientists via CalHR administrative rules. This ensures that should there be any increase to the reimbursement amount, or the addition of other modes of non-motorized transportation, such as walking, that State Scientists will receive the benefit of the increase without having to wait until the next bargaining cycle.

Nonmembers didn’t receive this important update from CAPS. They also won’t have any input on bargaining priorities. They won’t be able to vote on whether to ratify a tentative labor contract. They won’t be able to nominate or elect CAPS leaders.  In short, on employment disputes including providing direction to the CAPS Bargaining Team, nonmembers will be ON THEIR OWN.

Member-Only Benefits. Only members have access to a wide variety of member-only benefits. Only members automatically receive $100,000 in travel accident insurance and $5,000 of term life insurance at no additional cost. Only members can purchase low cost group term life insurance up to $520,000 and optional disability insurance. Only members qualify to receive quality discounted homeowners and renters insurance via Liberty Mutual.  Only members get discounts on a wide variety of products, services, and amusement parks. Only members qualify for quarterly professional grants and annual dependent college scholarships. See more here: http://capsscientists.org/benefits/

CAPS gladly welcomes all state scientists as members.  You to can invite your colleagues to join–nearly 8 out of 10 already have: http://capsscientists.org/contact/application/

June 28, 2018

CalHR Still Makes No Compensation Offer In Bargaining.  Your CAPS Bargaining Team met again all day Tuesday with Governor Brown’s negotiators from CalHR.  There was yet again no salary offer from CalHR. That’s in spite of CAPS’ demand that it make one.  Meanwhile, the last of the previously negotiated three consecutive annual 5% salary increases will take effect July 1.

The CAPS Team again discussed its salary proposal for full salary equity for ALL State Scientists effective January 1, 2019.  The message was made strongly and clearly: State Scientists are underpaid and underappreciated.  That MUST be corrected immediately!  See the CAPS proposal here.

CAPS also explored ways to ensure Hazardous Materials Specialists working for the Department of Corrections (CDCR) are paid what they are owed, and treated fairly in the conduct of their work in state correctional facilities.  CAPS is likely to propose new language at the next bargaining session to address this.

Several tentative agreements were reached on Tuesday, none of them requiring additional funding from the state.  These included…

  • Hardship Transfer.  New language was agreed upon that recognizes hardship transfers as a way of dealing with work and family issues including but not limited to domestic violence, a substantiated complaint of workplace violence or workplace bullying, a mandatory job transfer of a spouse or domestic partner, or family illness, injury, death, serious health condition or other important consideration. Under these circumstances, an employee can be transferred to another geographic area, work location or work unit in order to mitigate the hardship.
  • 2.12 Lump Sum Leave Cash Out Upon Separation.  Continues an existing contract section with minor changes.  This section allows State Scientists defer tax payments on leave balances upon retirement by transferring all or a portion of those balances to a tax deferred IRC 457b or IRC 401k plan offered via the State’s Savings Plus Program.
  • 5.7 FlexElect Program. Continues an existing contract section with minor changes.  It requires the State to provide a plan allowing State Scientists to use pre-tax earnings to pay for qualifying out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses.
  • 9.12 Grievance Arbitration.  This section adds language to an existing provision that ensures that contract grievances that advance to arbitration are litigated promptly.
  • Employee – Union Orientation. New language was agreed upon which entitles CAPS representatives the opportunity to meet with each new State Scientist during normal work hours for orientation regarding their employment rights, benefits, duties, responsibilities and other employment related matters. CAPS already does such an orientation with new state scientists; this language simply confirms it.

The next meeting between CAPS and CalHR is scheduled for Tuesday, July 17.  Please wear your CAPS t-shirt in solidarity on Bargaining Days and Science Fridays!

June 14, 2018

Bargaining Update.  Your CAPS Bargaining Team met yet again Tuesday with Governor Brown’s negotiators from CalHR, the Department of Finance, and labor relations officers from several state departments that employ State Scientists.

CalHR made no salary offer, but CAPS and CalHR did agree that during the term of the next MOU there will be no mandatory unpaid furloughs.  This is a significant change from the current MOU, which permitted Governor Brown to implement unpaid furloughs during the third and final year of the MOU if authorized by the state Legislature.

The next meeting between CAPS and CalHR is scheduled for Tuesday, June 26.  Please wear your CAPS t-shirt in solidarity on Bargaining Days and Science Fridays!

5% Salary Increase, .7% OPEB (or CERBT) Payment Effective July 1.  The current CAPS MOU provides for the third of three consecutive 5% General Salary Increases next month.  The compounding impact of these three increases is nearly 16%. Also effective will be the second of three equal annual contributions by the state and every state scientist to fund health benefits during retirement.  That deduction will be an additional .7%.  All funds are administered by CalPERS and are nonrefundable. Prefunding health benefits during retirement helps ensure that quality health benefits continue to be sustainable throughout your retirement years. The final installment of 1.4% is effective July 1, 2019.

Renovations Signal Smaller Office Sizes.  The CalEPA and Bonderson buildings in Sacramento are due for a makeover.  The Natural Resources Building in Sacramento is planned for a seismic retrofit. Two new buildings are expected to be added to the Sacramento skyline in 2020 and 2021. In announcing these plans, the state Department of General Services outlined planned renovations that downsize offices to 7×7 in order to accommodate more employees.  This is a trend that may signal plans for future new office spacing statewide.

CAPS has already warned state officials that universally downsizing offices compromises confidentiality and operational needs for many State Scientists. Other concerns include privacy, lighting, shading and temperature control.  The DGS asserts that cubicle sizing will follow current MOU and State Administrative Manual Standards. View DGS’ presentation on the new buildings here: DGS Presentation to Unions 6-4-2018

See DGS’s Ten Year Plan on their website here: https://www.documents.dgs.ca.gov/dgs/pio/sequencingplan.pdf

DGS plans to hold “town hall” style meetings where employees can voice their concerns. That schedule is pending.

See CalEPA’s current layout here: CalEPA Building Current Layout

…and CalEPA’s proposed layout here: CalEPA Building Proposed Layout

Please let us know what concerns you have regarding these plans.

June 1, 2018

Still No “Beef” In Bargaining.  Your CAPS Bargaining Team met yesterday with Governor Brown’s negotiators from CalHR, the department of Finance, and labor relations officers from several state departments that employ State Scientists.

The state has still made no offer on salary and benefits, even after the CAPS Team pressed them to do so.  This is after a tentative agreement has been reached in Unit 6 (Correctional Officers—Unit 6).  See an analysis of that agreement here:  http://lao.ca.gov/Publications/Report/3847

CAPS made new proposals of its own…

  • 3.21 No Mandated Reduction In Work Hours.  CAPS’ proposal would revise current contract language to ensure that there will be no unpaid mandatory furloughs during the term of the successor MOU.
  • 5.1 Health, Dental Vision.  CAPS’ proposal would revise current MOU language to ensure new State Scientists receive 100% of the state’s contribution for health benefit plans when hired, and the right to enroll in the indemnity dental plan after 12 months of employment, not 24 months.
  • 6.4 Uniform Replacement. CAPS’ proposal would increase the biannual reimbursable amount for uniforms to $670 for full timers and $335 for part-timers where uniforms are required to be worn. It would also authorize up to $200 annually for specialty equipment and/or apparel when it is used exclusively for state work but not provided by the state.  Such items could include protective sunglasses, hats and protective clothing.
  • 6.7 Safety FootwearCAPS proposed to increase the biannual reimbursement amount for required safety footwear from $200 to $275.  This proposed increase was based on a CAPS market survey of the cost of safety footwear.
  • Employee-Union Orientation. CAPS proposed that contract language reflect CAPS legal right to meet with new State Scientists during normal work hours for orientation and review of the union rights.
  • Employee InformationCAPS proposed that the state provide to all State Scientist annually a summary of leave and benefit information.

The next meeting between CAPS and CalHR is scheduled for Tuesday, June 12.  Please wear your CAPS t-shirt in solidarity on Bargaining Days and Science Fridays!

May 17, 2018

No Economic Offer from CalHR Yet.  In spite of a healthy budget surplus, Governor Brown’s representatives in contract bargaining have yet to make a proposal for additional general salary increases for State Scientists. The Governor’s proposed budget DOES fund the 5% GSI scheduled for July 1, 2018.  That increase is the third of three consecutive 5% increases contained in the current CAPS Memorandum of Understanding, which expires on July 2, 2018.

The principal purpose of the current round of contract bargaining is twofold: to achieve Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists, and to renew the CAPS MOU which secures and protects a host of benefits and workplace protections for State Scientists.

CAPS Team Passionate About Equity!  At one point near the end of Tuesday’s negotiations, the CalHR spokesperson asked which of CAPS’ compensation proposals take priority.  After consideration, the CAPS Team underscored the importance of ALL of its “money” proposals, starting with SALARY EQUITY.  Far too many years of unequal pay have left State Scientists being undervalued, and that must change NOW, CAPS Team members said.  That is not to lessen the importance of other monetary proposals, such as geographic differential pay (which CalHR acknowledged is a real and pressing need), and proposals that affect smaller but very important pockets of State Scientists, such as dive pay (which has not been adjusted in many years), overtime for FLSA “Exempt” Scientists during declared emergencies such as oil spills, increased professional society dues which promote career development, and paid parental leave, among others.

Your CAPS Team, meanwhile, made several new proposals on behalf of State Scientists:

  • Paid Parental Leave. CAPS proposed to establish a paid leave benefit of 60 days to every Unit 10 employee upon the birth or adoption of a child. Such leave could be taken in one-hour increments and would expire within one year of the arrival or adoption of the new child.
  • Domestic Partnership BenefitsCommitted relationships without marriage are increasingly common.  To recognize this, CAPS proposed to extend state benefits in recognized domestic partnerships.  The result would treat registered or qualifying domestic partnerships for purposes of benefits coverage the same as married couples.
  • Anti-Bullying.  CAPS proposed a minor wording change to our existing MOU language to require state departments to maintain a Workplace Violence and Bullying Prevention Program.

Agreement was reached to “rollover” several current sections of the CAPS MOU, with no substantive changes.  These included: 2.4 (Bilingual Differential Pay); 8.5 (Retirement Exclusions); 8.8 (Tax Treatment); 16.1 (Layoff and Reemployment); 16.2 (Reducing Adverse Effects of Layoff).

The next CAPS Bargaining Session with CalHR is scheduled for Thursday, May 31.

May 3, 2018

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met yet again on Tuesday, May 1 with representatives of Governor Brown’s negotiators from the California Department of Human Resources and various state departments that employ State Scientists. The meeting focused less on theatrics from the state’s team, and, fortunately, more on substantive proposals. Your CAPS Team made the following written proposals:

  • 2.1 Salary. The CAPS Team again reviewed its salary proposal and provided written confirmation with details.  This was backed up by several members of the CAPS Team, who made forceful and detailed arguments supporting the need for immediate and full salary equity.

These comments focused on the need for salary justice in the workplace, and restoring a semblance of balance and fairness.  The State’s team was told—again—how the salary lag with state engineers was compounded by the July 2013 equity raise of as much as 42% for Senior ES Supervisors and a select group of other supervisory classifications.  The consequence has been to make many State Scientists feel undervalued, WHICH WE ARE!  The response from CalHR was to reassure the CAPS Team that the work of State Scientists really are valued, and that no two bargaining units are paid alike. The State’s Team did not, however, make any specific proposals regarding salary.

  • 2.10 Recruitment and Retention Differentials. This amends a proposal previously made by CAPS. The amended proposal would increase the amount of the “recruitment and retention bonus” paid to employees working at certain remote state prisons from $2400 to $2600.
  • 6.1 Business and Travel Expenses. This also amends a proposal previously made by CAPS. The amended proposal would increase the minimum amount reimbursed for lodging anywhere in California from the current $90 to $115.
  • 2.7 Diving/Climbing Pay.  This proposal would increase the amount paid to scientists who “scuba” dive on state business from the current different range of $12 per diving hour to $25 per each hour for all payable hours of the day of the dive. This amount has not increased in many years.  The amended amount reflects the amount now being paid by other governmental agencies.
  • Hardship Transfer. This proposal would for the first time recognize in the MOU the importance of hardship transfers as a way of dealing with work and family issues. Such transfers would be allowable when a state scientist is experiencing a verifiable hardship, including substantiated complaints of workplace violence or bullying.
  • 13.7 Non-DiscriminationThis proposal would expand existing language outlining prohibited activities related to discrimination. It would also specifically list governmental agencies where redress can be sought, including each department’s Equal Employment Opportunity office, the State Personal Board, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Professional Respect Clause. This proposal would commit state management to providing a workplace free of bullying where all employees are treated by supervisors and managers with accepted standards of common human courtesy and dignity.

The Teams agreed to retain (“rollover”), several sections of the current MOU including:

  • 4.1 Holidays, which establishes which Holidays are observed with pay for State Employees.
  • 13.6 Supersession, which gives the MOU control over the Government Code Sections listed.
  • 16.3 Change in Work Location, which ensures that the state will provide at least seven working days’ notice of a change in their work location which would not require an employee to move.
  • 16.4 Appeal of Involuntary Transfer, which defines when an involuntary transfer can be appealed.
  • 19.10 Contracting Out, which guarantees that the State does not incur unnecessary additional costs by contracting out work that could be appropriately performed by Unit 10 employee
  • 20.1 Entire Agreement, in which CalHR and CAPS agree to negotiate the contract.

Classification Reform.  The CAPS Team demanded to know why CalHR continues to do nothing to further class consolidation and reform in State Scientific classes after years of saying it is a priority.  The Team pointed out recent news reports of state IT related classifications going through a comprehensive reclass and receiving salary increases of up to 9% as a result. CalHR’s response on this was lackluster, claiming that the unit within CalHR is working on some type of reclassification among Research Scientists and Energy related classifications. They offered no specifics.

The Teams are set to meet again on Tuesday, May 15.

CalHR Turns Its Back on CAPS
April 20, 2018

Salary Equity NOW!The state’s bargaining team led by Governor Brown’s CalHR stood up and turned its back on your CAPS Bargaining Team on Tuesday April 17.  That symbolic act was taken as CAPS summarized its detailed salary proposal. See it here:  2.1 Salaries

That didn’t stop CAPS from completing the proposal, or making additional proposals as summarized below.

Geographic Pay Differential.  CAPS proposed that the state implement the geographic incentive pay plan the federal government offers its California-based employees. This would result in differentials of between 24.86 and 39.28 percent for scientists assigned to work in the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, San Benito, San Bernardino, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Solano, Sonoma, Sutter, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.

A huge thanks to Senior ES Specialists Simona Balan of DTSC Berkeley and Allison Shirer of DTSC Chatsworth (Los Angeles) for discussing the special challenges of meeting the every day challenges of life in a high cost area on a State Scientist’s salary.  A video synopsis of their testimony will be available for all to see soon.

R&R Differential State PrisonsCAPS proposed that scientists employed at California Correctional Centers and State Prisons be offered a recruitment and retention differential for working in a high-risk environment. After working for twelve consecutive months in one of these prisons, eligible employees would receive a bonus of $2,400.

Business and Travel Reimbursements. Inflation drives up costs on all consumer goods throughout California. This should be reflected in the amounts you are reimbursed when you’re traveling on state business. So CAPS proposed an increase in meal reimbursement of up to $51.00 per day for each full 24 hours of travel—that’s the minimum the federal governments reimburses with no adverse tax consequences. That’s up from the current state cap of $46.00 per day. CAPS also seeks increased lodging reimbursement rates for high cost areas such as Marin and San Francisco.

Professional Society Dues. CAPS proposed increasing members’ reimbursement for professional society dues from the current rate of $100 to $500 annually.

Professional Conferences. Your CAPS team proposed a change in the language to this Section, from “up to two job-related professional conferences…” to “a minimum of two job-related professional conferences…”

Transportation IncentivesA proposal to help scientists reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion was put forth, requesting that scientists who use public transportation and/or vanpools see an increase in their possible reimbursement rate.

CalHR Turned Its Back. As mentioned above, in response to the CAPS Salary Equity summary, the state’s bargaining team, chaired by a representative from Governor Brown’s CalHR, stood up, turned its back, and filed out of the room.  This was seemingly in response to the CAPS television ad, which has aired over 200 times in the Northern California region.  See it here: https://vimeo.com/264646587

After bargaining later resumed, the CAPS Team reminded the state’s team to act with better decorum in the course of these talks.  The CAPS media campaign is a relatively benign reminder to Governor Brown and CalHR the compensation favoritism shown to state engineers at the expense of state scientists must end NOW!

No agreements were reached, but further discussions on salary will continue in future sessions.

Wear Your CAPS T-Shirt May 1!  Show solidarity with the CAPS Bargaining Team by wearing a CAPS T-Shirt on Tuesday May 1.  That’s when CAPS will next meet in contract bargaining with CalHR.  Please feel free to take a group photo with your State Scientist colleagues, and share the photos with CAPS () and/or on your personal social media pages.  #ScienceMatters #FairPay4Scientists 

Need A T-Shirt?  If so, we have a few on hand.  If you will wear it to work on Science Fridays or Bargaining Tuesdays, please let us know, and we will get one in the mail to you PRONTO!http://capsscientists.org/caps-t-shirts/

REMINDER: CAPS T-Shirts are issued with full membership.  YOU can join your colleagues by completing an application at this secure site:  http://capsscientists.org/contact/application/

Salary Equity NOW!
April 6, 2018

Your CAPS Bargaining Team on Tuesday, April 3 presented a detailed salary proposal to Governor Brown’s California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). See it here:  2.1 Salaries.

The CAPS proposal would do two things: implement full Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists on January 1, 2019. This would restore pre-2005 salary equivalency between the Environmental Scientist classification (plus all Unit 10 classifications that require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum) with state employed engineers.

Second, the CAPS proposal would recognize State Scientists required to have a PhD or greater with at least an additional 10% in salary.  State Scientists required to have a Master’s Degree as a minimum would receive an additional 5% in salary.

Four career State Scientists presented graphic testimony in support of the CAPS proposal. A video summary of those presentations will be available shortly for your review.

Veterinarian Maureen Lee Dutra, DVM, MPVM, of the Department of Food and Agriculture’s Animal Health Branch in Tulare described the extensive educational requirements necessary to obtain a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, and the vast disconnect between the demands of that job and the relatively low compensation they receive for it.

Staff Toxicologist Jimmy Spearow, PhD, of the DTSC in Sacramento presented a compelling case for competitive salaries for PhD-level scientists.  He noted that new graduates in Toxicology typically carry a debt load averaging some $200,000.

Research Scientist III Rachel Broadwin, MS, of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment in Oakland presented outstanding testimony on behalf of State Scientist required to have a Master’s Degree as a minimum.  Again, low salaries make recruiting and retaining well-qualified scientists in this discipline exceedingly difficult, especially in high cost of living areas.

Finally, CAPS Bargaining Chairperson, Environmental Scientist Stephanie Lewis of DTSC in Chatsworth presented voluminous and compelling evidence to support the need to restore salary equivalency between the Environment Scientist classification (and all State Scientific classifications requiring a Bachelor’s Degree as a minimum) with their state engineering counterparts. Salary equivalency was the norm for decades prior to 2005, when then Governor Gray Davis agreed to formula base salary increases for state engineers in State Bargaining Unit 9.

No Commitment from CalHR. In response, the state’s bargaining team, chaired by a representative from Governor Brown’s CalHR, listened politely and asked questions. No agreement was reached, but further discussions on salary will continue in future sessions.

CAPS Made Other Proposals.  The CAPS Team additionally proposed that ALL State Scientists exempt from overtime compensation (Work Week Group E) be paid for extended periods of work during a recognized emergency (7.7 Work Week Groups), that State Scientists who are required to use Personal Protective Equipment receive a differential of $125 monthly (X.0 New Language), that the state reimburse State Scientists for the expense of continuing education done to renew a license or certification required as a condition of employment (X.1 New Language), and that the state compensate state Veterinarians for being assigned to manage, supervise or lead an emergency where an Incident Command Structure is established, or the Governor has declared an emergency (2.13 Emergency Pay-Veterinarians).

Wear Your CAPS T-Shirt April 17!  Show solidarity with the CAPS Bargaining Team by wearing a CAPS T-Shirt on Tuesday April 17.  That’s when CAPS will next meet in contract bargaining with CalHR.  Please feel free to take a group photo with your State Scientist colleagues, and share the photos with CAPS () and/or on your personal social media pages.  #ScienceMatters #FairPay4Scientists 

Need A T-Shirt?  If so, we have a few on hand.  If you will wear it to work on Science Fridays or Bargaining Tuesdays, please let us know, and we will get one in the mail to you PRONTO!http://capsscientists.org/caps-t-shirts/.

MOU Renewal Talks Begin
March 22, 2018

March 20, Tuesday, was the first day of Spring.  It was also the first formal meeting between the CAPS Bargaining Team and Governor Brown’s representatives from the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). The purpose is to negotiate a successor agreement to the current CAPS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which expires on July 1, 2018.

During the March 20 meeting, the CAPS and CalHR Teams spent considerable time approving language that will continue unchanged, and planning future sessions.  These are scheduled for every OTHER week on Tuesdays through June 26.  The one exception is Memorial Day week, when negotiations are scheduled for Wednesday, May 30.

The CAPS Team will begin making substantive NEW proposals when the Teams next meet on Tuesday, April 3.

Wear Your CAPS T-Shirt April 3!Show solidarity with the CAPS Bargaining Team by wearing your CAPS T-Shirt on Tuesday, April 3.  That’s when CAPS will present its salary proposal on behalf of all State Scientists in Bargaining Unit 10, the Professional Scientific bargaining unit.

Need another T-Shirt?  Is the first one getting a little shop worn? If so, we have a few on hand.  If you need another, and you will wear it to work on Science Fridays or Bargaining Tuesdays, please let us know, and we will get one in the mail to you PRONTO!  http://capsscientists.org/caps-t-shirts/

2017 Bargaining Updates

CAPS Salary Equity Update
July 17, 2017

Salary Equity Remains Top Priority.During February 2016, CAPS members ratified an MOU that reduces a long-standing salary inequity with three consecutive annual 5% salary increases. Unfortunately, when that MOU expires on July 1, 2018, the salaries of Rank-and-File State Scientists will still be approximately 28% behind their state engineering counterparts.  See the salary comparison here. 

State Scientists are also significantly underpaid compared with virtually any equivalent counterpart at the state, local and federal levels. Before Governor Brown’s term expires in 2018, CAPS will insist on a new MOU that restores ALL State Scientists to the historical salary equivalency they had prior to 2006.

Other areas of the state’s compensation package for State Scientists are in need of improvement, notably professional development, lodging reimbursement rates in high-cost areas and safety equipment reimbursement. But by far the greatest need is to implement Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists.

High Cost Urban Areas Especially Hard Hit. In addition to salary inequity, those State Scientists working in urban areas are especially hard-hit due to the particularly high cost of living. In order to ensure that California can recruit and retain qualified scientists in the future, Governor Brown must provide an additional adjustment to those working in these measurably high-cost areas, similar to that provided by the federal government.

Most State Scientific Supervisors Got Equity in 2014. Based on litigation and pressure from CAPS, Governor Brown granted full equity to approximately ¾ of all State Scientific Supervisors during July 2014. Ironically, the remainder of scientific supervisory classifications, most requiring a minimum of a Masters or Ph.D., did not receive the adjustment. So all Rank-and-File State Scientists are long overdue for full salary equity, as well as approximately ¼ of the State Scientific Supervisory workforce.

State Departments Can Help. Departmental management can and should urge CalHR and Brown Administration officials to use this opportunity to ensure that quality State Scientists are recruited and retained into the future. A push from Departmental management would assist Rank-and-File State Scientists and State Scientific Supervisors who did not receive the 2014 increase.

See more here:  http://capsscientists.org/bargaining/salary-equity/

Retirement and Health Benefits Update
July 10, 2017

CAPS Defends Pensions So YOU Can Retire with Confidence.After a long career of public service, every State Scientist has earned and deserves a secure, predictable, reliable retirement, the one promised when hired.  Employment as a California civil servant has always meant receiving a guaranteed retirement benefit – one that’s secured by the California Constitution and state law as implemented by CalPERS. It’s funded partially by monthly contributions made by you and the state of California, with the lion’s share resulting from returns on CalPERS’ investments. Your actual retirement annuity is based on a defined-benefit formula, and that assurance of a retirement allowance based on this formula is one of the things that makes a California civil service retirement so valuable.

Investment Returns Draw Controversy.  As mentioned above, CalPERS investment returns are the fiscal backbone in delivering promised retirement benefits.  During the recent financial downturn actual returns have been well below the discount rate that was set by CalPERS at 7.75% for many years. Failure to achieve this minimum has increased the unfunded liability of CalPERS substantially. So CalPERS last year approved action to lower its discount rate to 7% by the 2020-21 fiscal year. This means increased pressure on public employers to make up the difference between expected returns and actual returns.  This has emboldened pension “reformers” who want to permanently end the defined-benefit model for funding public pensions. The good news here is that CalPERS recently announced that its return rate for the 2016-17 fiscal year through April 30, 2017 is estimated to be 9.2% and the total fund assets at that time were valued at $318.9 billion.

The Program Isn’t On Autopilot. State Scientists might not retire wealthy, but the guarantee of a living retirement, and a lifetime health benefits program, provides security that most Americans simply don’t have in this day and age. There have been “reforms” affecting new hires over the years, most recently a sweeping one sponsored by Governor Jerry Brown in 2012.  Variances in the programs suggests that every State Scientist should understand his or her basic benefits and begin planning for retirement early, even during midcareer. Consult the retirement experts at CalPERS in planning for that eventual day when you report to your state job for the very last time.

“Miscellaneous” is a Good Thing. As a State Scientist in state Bargaining Unit 10 you are a member of the CalPERS “Miscellaneous” retirement plan. The formula to calculate your retirement annuity is simple enough: your final compensation multiplied by your years of service, then multiplied again by an an age factor.   But your exact retirement amount isn’t that simple to calculate on your own. A number of variables can complicate this rather simple formula, such as your date of hire, service earned in another jurisdiction, service earned under different CalPERS retirement plans, breaks in service, etc.  Supplemental income such as social security benefits, earnings from a 457 or 401(k) supplemental income plan can of course increase your income during retirement.

CAPS and CalPERS Can Help. The CAPS MOU can help you as a very general guide in calculating your retirement annuity. Article 8 can help you determine what age factor to use. Your final compensation is based on either 1 year or 3 years of highest average monthly pay, depending on your date of hire. And your years of service should be rather easily estimated, unless you have qualifying service in another public jurisdiction.  Remember that guidance on retirement issues specific to your situation should be obtained directly from a qualified CalPERS representative.  CalPERS will calculate your retirement annuity and help to craft a plan to help you achieve your goal of a predictable, living retirement. Visit the CalPERS website to learn more and begin your planning process if you haven’t started already: www.calpers.ca.gov.

Danger Always Lurks On The Horizon. Over the years, attacks on public sector pensions by so-called “taxpayer advocates” have been relentless. Most recently, for example, the Marin County employees retirement case threatens the California Rule, which provides a constitutional bar that prevents promised retirement benefits from being reversed during the course of employment. The decision of the appellate court discusses what the definition of “vested” means, which could affect pensions for State Scientists now and in the future. CAPS has filed an amicus “Friend of the Court” brief in support of overturning this decision, which could allow benefits to be reduced mid-career. CAPS is also a founding member and an active participant in the coalition of California labor unions focused solely on protecting the integrity of the defined benefit based retirement plans that cover the majority of California’s public employees: www.LetsTalkPensions.com.

Health Benefit Contribution Hearing October 24.  Under the CAPS MOU, the state employer’s monthly contribution for health benefits is 80% of the weighted average premium of the four largest enrolled health plans.  For 2017, the average premium calculation by CalHR was instead done using the fifth largest plan.  That was done by CalHR ostensibly because one of the plans, Blue Shield Net Value, was not offered in 2017.  Because the fifth largest plan is cheaper, and due to the elimination of the Net Value enrollees, Kaiser enrollees got a heavier weighting in CalHR’s calculation of the average premium.  The result was that the state’s health benefit contribution for 2017 went down.  CAPS filed a grievance saying that because all the health premiums went up, the average premium and the state’s contribution should also go up, not down.  CAPS argued that because Net Value employees would move to Blue Shield Access + HMO, the average premium and the state employer contribution required under the MOU should have increased.  This grievance will be heard in an arbitration held in Sacramento on October 24, 2017.  A decision is expected by early 2018.  If CAPS prevails, state scientists would be reimbursed for a portion of each monthly health benefit contribution made in 2017.

CAPS Update
March 14, 2016

With the new three-year MOU now effective, what’s next?

Here’s what:  Enforcement, and more responsible and appropriate noise!

Coordinating this effort won’t be easy—state scientists work in nearly 44 state departments and over 90 separate job classifications. But we all do work that’s vital in support of public health and a healthy environment. We are all scientific professionals. And we are all underpaid.

Work Together.  Every member can help, with eyes and ears, to make sure the MOU is properly implemented, that CalHR and every department honors all terms, and that every issue or problem—no matter how seemingly insignificant—gets addressed.

Request a Copy.  CAPS is going easy on the environment and reducing costs by limiting this print job.  So you will not get a hard copy of the new CAPS 2015-2018 MOU unless you request one.  Even without a hard copy, you can always access the MOU via the CAPS web page.  If you want a hard copy for any reason, that’s fine too. Just let us know (), and we’ll drop one in the mail to you as soon as they are printed.  One copy per member, please.

Making Appropriate Noise. Yes, we have a new MOU in effect.  We are committed to enforcing and honoring it.  That also means making appropriate noise with management at all levels regarding improvements that still need to be made.  There are the obvious ones, like Salary Equity for One and ALL.  Others, like regional geographic inequities, educational achievements that aren’t being recognized or rewarded, safety equipment not fully reimbursed, lodging reimbursements that don’t fit the location—all need attention. Specific concerns and examples about these should be routinely communicated to management, with a copy to CAPS.

Civil Service Reform.  We know this is an important legacy issue for Governor Brown. After all, this was assigned to his Government Operations Agency (GovOps) to complete after a personnel shakeup at CalHR in 2014. Governor Brown’s proposed budget for the 2016–17 fiscal year includes 16 new positions and $1.9 million ($600,000 General Fund) to develop and implement a statewide solutions for workforce and succession planning, retirement, and training. CAPS will be pressing GovOps to include classification changes addressed previously for state scientists.

Reinforcing the Positive Image of State Scientists. We all do essential work. Our work may well be appreciated by our stakeholders, state decision-makers and the public, but often isn’t widely noticed. We ALL need to make sure decision-makers in the public are regularly reminded about the important work we do. Some departments are better at promoting organizational and individual efforts than others.  CAPS will be evaluating its own promotional efforts for the work of state scientists, individually and as a group.

Improving Internal Communications. We are committed to continuous improvement when it comes to internal communications and being responsive to members. The CAPS Board of Directors and key staff are devoting considerable time towards review and planning on these topics in the weeks ahead.

Making Money Available. Most of CAPS objectives require state funding. So the CAPS governmental action committee is doubling down on efforts to ensure that State Departments that employ state scientists, and their scientific programs, are sufficiently funded for continued operations and growth in the future. Any member who identifies areas where improvements can be made should not hesitate to contact CAPS.

Patty Velez, President

Scott Bauer, Bargaining Chair

THANKS For Your Support!

MOU Ratified!
February 23, 2016

CAPS members today RATIFIED the proposed three-year Memorandum of Understanding between CAPS and the Brown Administration. That’s just four months after the very same MOU was rejected by the CAPS membership 72% to 28%.

The official count was 1119 in favor of ratification (75.5%), and 360 against (24.3%).  The return was 69% of eligible voters.  Balloting was conducted by TrueBallot, an independent balloting service.Certification of the results can be viewed here

CAPS Bargaining Chair Scott Bauer had this to say upon seeing the results: “This contract is an important interim step in our quest for full salary equity. We will honor this agreement, work for common ground with the Administration, and look forward to returning to the bargaining table with Governor Brown’s negotiators during the spring of 2018.”

The “5%-5%-5%” salary increase schedule in the MOU leaves state scientists far short of full parity, but the CAPS Bargaining Team remains committed to SALARY EQUITY for ALL state scientists!

During the coming months CAPS will be focusing on:

  • enforcing the terms of this agreement
  • reinforcing the positive image of state scientists with decision makers and the public
  • improving internal communications and aligning the CAPS membership behind appropriate noise making efforts
  • completing the state’s civil service reform project
  • improving the financial condition of the special funds that support state scientific programs and positions
  • strengthening the case for Salary Equity for one and ALL State Scientists

This MOU expires July 1, 2018.  That’s just over two years from now.  Bargaining commences during Spring 2018 with Governor Brown’s negotiators for the last time – – his term expires during January 2019.   Preparations for that start IMMEDIATELY!

Reminder:  the NEW MOU includes the following major elements:

  • Three general salary increases of 5% each for every Unit 10 scientist on July 1, 2016; July 1, 2017; and July 1, 2018.
  • Individual state departments may offer scientists the ability to cash out up to 80 hours of accrued vacation/annual leave depending on availability of funding. This is an increase from the current level of 20 hours.
  • Continues employer contributions to fund the statutorily provided increases for health benefits pursuant to the “80/80” funding formula.
  • Implements higher lodging reimbursement amounts for three Bay Area counties, and increases the mileage reimbursement rate for piloted airplanes used on state business.
  • Maintains and continues other agreed-upon benefits currently provided for in the CAPS MOU.
  • Requires a contribution by every Unit 10 scientist of 2.8% for post-retirement health benefits starting in 2017. The contribution is back loaded and implemented over three years (.7% in 2017; another .7% in 2018; and 1.4% in 2019).
  • Prevents mandatory unpaid furloughs through the 2017 fiscal year.

Thanks to everyone who voted!

Balloting Deadline!
February 15, 2016

The Deadline for mailing your Ratification ballot is fast approaching.  In fact, if you haven’t received your ballot by now, you must request a duplicate by tomorrow, February 17, in order for your vote to count.  A ballot was mailed February 5 to the home address of every rank-and-file CAPS member by TrueBallot, our independent election administrator. To request a duplicate ballot, call the CAPS office, (916) 441-2629, or send us an email with your mailing address: 

Ballots will be counted Tuesday February 23 at noon at the CAPS Sacramento office building: 455 Capitol Mall, Suite 125, Sacramento.  Parking is available in an adjacent ground floor lot, and validation will be provided to all members who attend.  All members are welcome to observe the count.

To be effective, the Agreement must be ratified by a majority of voting CAPS members.

If the MOU is RATIFIED, it becomes effective immediately.

If it’s REJECTED, the CAPS Bargaining Team would seek to renew negotiations for a successor MOU. Provisions of the existing MOU would continue to apply, as they do now.

Watch Our Video! See a video we prepared to hopefully better explain the situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVLFb9bKEHI&feature=youtu.be

Only Members Vote! Only members – – not fee payers – – can vote in this ratification election. So if you haven’t joined as a full member–Fee Payers have a “FS” designation on their pay stubs–you can join online here: http://capsscientists.org/contact/application/

The CAPS Bargaining Team is UNANIMOUSLY recommending a YES vote.

Please VOTE!

Scott Bauer
Vice President
Bargaining Chair

Patty Velez

Patti Rich-Crawford

Jim McCall II
Director At-Large

David Rist
District IV Director

Stephanie Lewis
District I Director

Please VOTE
February 9, 2016

YES or NO?

The choices have narrowed.  YOUR vote will help determine what your paycheck will look like July 31.  It will also help determine what CAPS will ask YOU to do starting next month.  Let’s look at these options under two scenarios:


  • Make more NOISE.  To be effective, EVERYONE needs to participate. This could eventually necessitate a statewide job action. It’s no secret that thousands of CSU Faculty have authorized a five-day strike in order to get an additional 3% at the bargaining table. Courageous, but risky for job security.  Those advocating a “no” vote by State Scientists have suggested similar action. Just ask them.
  • Continue Bargaining; Go To Impasse. The CAPS Bargaining Team would seek continued negotiations and demand MORE MONEY. That’s the ONLY way to close salary equity gap we ALL face. Understand that Governor Brown’s negotiators have flatly and repeatedly rejected this demand, not just in the immediate future, but until 2018.  Going to impasse would authorize Governor Brown to implement the worst parts of his “last, best and final offer,” not the best.
  • No Salary Increase July 2016.  No prospect for getting one.
  • Hope For The Best. Hope is about the ONLY tactic suggested by those advocating a “no” vote.


  • Sure Thing. Approving the TA preserves current benefits and provides known and meaningful salary growth. An added feature actually strengthens and preserves valuable post-retirement health benefits on which all of us will depend in retirement.
  • Cooperation not Confrontation.  Ratification means a conscious choice by the CAPS membership to work collaboratively with Governor Brown during his final three years.  That’s both to get important projects completed – – like Civil Service Reform – – and to achieve full Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists.  We meet with his negotiators one last time, Spring 2018. The alternative is to continue to throw sand in his eyes when he is armed with much more powerful weapons.
  • Salary Growth.  Short of full salary equity, but a step in the right direction.
  • Common Sense.  THINK LIKE SCIENTISTS: evaluate the data, including political and budget reality. This has been a long, hard road with strong emotions. No one is more invested in this, or has worked harder for positive results, than the two of us.  Your CAPS Bargaining Team has worked hard too—we’re unanimous.  This chapter has been written, now for a second time. Turn the page and continue the book.

It ends with FULL Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists!

We respectfully urge you to vote YES!

Patty Velez, President, Bargaining Team Member

Scott Bauer, CAPS Vice President, Bargaining Chair

MOU Ratification Vote
February 8, 2016

The Tentative Agreement under consideration is rightfully being evaluated by how it affects each of us individually. It should also be considered in terms of how it positions us collectively for the future – – ALL State Scientists. Please consider these points.

  • We have what CalHR and the DOF say is Governor Brown’s best offer.  Improving that offer requires Governor Brown to give in – – to change his mind. Yet currently he is emphatic: the amount won’t increase.  Take it or leave it.  The CAPS Team is convinced he’s serious:  the prospect of changing his mind after rejection is a dead end.  Rejecting the same offer a second time risks souring what has been generally a positive relationship.
  • It’s better to spend our time working on important projects, such as civil service reform and burnishing our public image, in advance of 2018 bargaining–just two years away.
  • The alternative is to make more noise about the inadequacy of the “5%-5%-5%.”  We’ve gotten little sympathy and virtually no support from the public and state lawmakers in spite of considerable efforts by ALL of us. Outsiders generally view our package as somewhat unprecedented and a huge win.  Other unions would likely happily accept our package.

Governor Brown has been consistent: fiscal prudence.  Pay down longstanding debt, minimize new expenditures, and set aside surpluses in reserve as a hedge against the next recession.  He has high favorability with the public.  His fiscal agenda has been largely untouchable in the state legislature.  Interest groups have rarely been successful in moving him from positions when he’s firm.  His principal focus is on reversing climate change, literally saving the planet.  He said recently at Stanford University: “Three minutes to midnight is damn dangerous.”

What’s the future hold if the membership REJECTS this MOU a second time?  Here’s our assessment:

  • It becomes more difficult and rather pointless to meet with CalHR in the near term. There won’t be anything substantive to discuss.
  • CalHR will be attempting to reach agreements with the unions which haven’t yet reached their first Tentative Agreement, let alone their second.
  • There’s no July salary increase.  Personal budgets get tighter.
  • There is no clear legal precedent for challenging salary inequities in court.
  • Noisemaking events won’t be effective in changing the Governor’s position (he knows success in getting agreements with other unions in part stems from remaining firm with CAPS).
  • SEIU leads the way with a low bar deal, just as they always do.
  • The Administration considers imposing terms on other unions.  This is driven by the need to implement the Health Benefits prefunding program.  That’s consistent with his promise to pay down debt, and there’s few larger debts than unfunded retiree health care–$74 Billion.
  • His offer to CAPS finally changes.  It becomes LESS than “5%-5%-5%.”  Assuming we reject that lower offer, a last, best and final offer is finally given to CAPS.  Governor Brown seeks to implement terms on state scientists, starting with prefunding health care.

This TA should be RATIFIED.  We respectfully urge you to vote YES!

Patty Velez, President, Bargaining Team Member

Scott Bauer, CAPS Vice President, Bargaining Chair

Ratify the TA
February 1, 2016

Your CAPS Bargaining Team is UNANIMOUSLY urging a YES vote on the Tentative Agreement with Governor Brown.  Here are more reasons why RATIFICATION is a better course than REJECTION:

  • RESOLVE.  Accepting this deal doesn’t weaken our resolve or ability to pursue Salary Equity in the future.
  • URGENCY.   Now there’s a hard deadline of July 2016 for the first of three 5% salary increases. There wasn’t any harm in rejecting the deal last time because no pay increases or benefit cuts were at stake. We had another chance to bargain and get more.  It produced no improvements, in spite of our best efforts.
  • FINALITY.  This “5%-5%-5%” package can be withdrawn if it’s rejected a second time–Governor Brown isn’t compelled by law to make the same offer.  His negotiators haven’t threatened to reduce the offer.  But that’s a possibility–and permissible if bargaining resumes.
  • PLANNING.  A salary increase of 15% is a sizable move in the right direction.  It also allows us to work cohesively and together in making full Salary Equity a reality in 2018.
  • FISCAL REALITY.  Governor Brown has been consistent: fiscal prudence–pay down longstanding debt, minimize new expenditures, and set aside surpluses in reserve as a hedge against the next recession.  He has high favorability with the public.  His fiscal agenda has been largely untouchable in the state legislature.  Interest groups have rarely been successful in moving him.
  • SUSTAINABILITY.  Prefunding health benefits with matching payments is in many ways a plus. We protect an essential benefit during our retirement years and lock in the state’s matching payments. Without those, pressure increases exponentially to eliminate this benefit, at least for future hires. See more here: http://capsscientists.org/wp-content/uploads/CERBT-overview.pdf

Please VOTE!

New CAPS Tentative Agreement
January 14, 2016

Your CAPS Bargaining Team late yesterday reached a new Tentative Agreement (TA) after spending all week in meetings with Governor Brown’s negotiators from CalHR and the Department of Finance.  The tentative agreement on salary reached by CAPS is exactly the same as the last agreement: 5% July 1, 2016; 5% July 1, 2017; 5% July 1, 2018.

Your CAPS Bargaining Team pushed hard for FULL Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists.  We demanded additional money for the agreement and we proposed a variety of ways to apply that money in the bargaining unit, all with the goal of reaching Salary Equity during the term of THIS MOU.  While the state was willing to shift money within the context of the $53 million already allotted, they were adamantly opposed to increasing it by even a small amount. Reallocating the money wasn’t an acceptable alternative to the CAPS Team.

See a list of Frequently Asked Questions HERE: Salary Equity FAQ.

This TA is in the process of being submitted to you and all CAPS members for a ratification vote.

The CAPS Team officially and unequivocally supports ratification of this Agreement. It is no longer a choice between “5%–5%–5%” or more than that.  The alternative is to have no increase whatsoever on July 1, 2016.  All other provisions of the previous TA are included.

In order for this TA to be effective, it must be ratified by a majority of CAPS members voting in a ratification election. The state Legislature approved the identical package via SB 99 last September, but there may be a legal requirement to do so again. That is under review.

The tentative agreement, and all of its individual sections, can be viewed on the CalHR webpage.

For review purposes, it does the following:

  • Provides three general salary increases for every Unit 10 scientist: 5% on July 1, 2016; 5% on July 1, 2017; 5% on July 1, 2018.
  • Individual state departments will offer scientists the ability to cash out up to 80 hours of accrued vacation/annual leave based on availability of funding. This is an increase from the current level of 20 hours.
  • Continues employer contributions to fund the statutorily provided increases for health benefits pursuant to the “80/80” funding formula.
  • Implements higher lodging reimbursement amounts for three Bay Area counties, and increases the mileage reimbursement rate for piloted airplanes used on state business.
  • Maintains and continues other agreed-upon benefits currently provided for in the CAPS MOU.
  • Requires a contribution by every Unit 10 scientist of 2.8% for post-retirement health benefits starting in 2017. The contribution is back loaded and implemented over three years (.7% in 2017; another .7% in 2018; and 1.4% in 2019).
  • Prevents mandatory unpaid furloughs through the 2017 fiscal year.

Ballots Coming.  A ballot will soon be mailed to the home address of every CAPS member by TrueBallot, an independent election administrator. Again, the CAPS Team is strongly urging ratification.

What if the CAPS membership APPROVES The MOU? Then the contract becomes effective.

What If The Membership REJECTS The MOU?  The contract then is NOT approved and its provisions are NOT effective, including the proposed July 1, 2016 5% general salary increase. The CAPS Bargaining Team would seek to continue negotiations for a successor MOU.  Provisions of the existing MOU would apply, as they do now.

Only Members Vote! Finally, only members – – not fee payers – – can vote in this ratification election. So if you aren’t yet a CAPS member (Fee Payers have a “FS” designation on their pay stubs for the CAPS representation fee), please join immediately so that you will receive a ratification ballot. You can join online here: http://capsscientists.org/contact/application/

On behalf of the entire CAPS Team, this clearly isn’t the deal we wanted or worked so hard to achieve.  But it is that best that CAN be achieved, and it SHOULD be ratified.

Your Understanding and Patience Is Appreciated!

Bargaining Resumes
January 11, 2016

First, Happy New Year!

Bargaining with Governor Brown’s representatives from CalHR and the Department of Finance resumes today, and is scheduled to continue through Wednesday. The Bargaining Team continues to fight for Salary Equity for ALL state scientists.

Bargaining is Where It’s At.  We have repeatedly asked for your patience and your support as we press our case at the bargaining table.  Like it or not, collective bargaining is the process we must use to negotiate any increase in salary in the near term.  We don’t rule out other avenues to achieve our goals, such as the courts.  But in the short run, we must bargain in accordance with state law—just like all other state employee groups and California public employees.  In fact, we feel fortunate to have limited rights to collectively bargain, something that has been taken from, or doesn’t even exist for, public employees in other states.

Other Avenues?  We are looking at other creative and viable ways to bring the best possible offer back to you for your review.  It’s certainly our collective right to say NO to any final offer that Governor Brown considers “generous.”  But we shouldn’t dispute his right to make that offer, nor should we doubt his sincerity in making it.  We have ALL done our best to make the NOISE needed for him to hear us, and we believe he has.

State Budget Proposal.  Last Thursday, Governor Brown released his proposed budget for the 2016-17 fiscal year. You can see a summary here: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/FullBudgetSummary.pdf

As CAPS President, my response to Governor’s Budget proposal was reprinted by the Sacramento Bee and other news outlets:  “It’s reassuring to see that once again Californians are on track to enjoy a budget surplus, according to Governor Brown’s draft budget released Thursday.  While it’s great to see the state with such a positive fiscal outlook, there was something missing from the Governor’s budget proposal: a plan to address salary inequity among state scientists.  The Governor, once again, has decided not to fund closure of a 30-40% salary gap between scientists who protect our public health and our natural resources and their engineering counterparts as well as scientists at other public agencies.  It’s time for the Governor to make scientists whole and we strongly urge him to include salary equity in this year’s budget.”

The specifics of Governor Brown’s proposed budget are worth reading. Commencing at page 126 he says, in relevant part:

“The Administration continues to actively bargain with four of the state’s employee bargaining units, representing correctional peace officers, firefighters, scientists, and craft and maintenance workers. With the exception of firefighters, each of these units memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the state expired in early July 2015…For current and upcoming bargaining negotiations, the Administration remains focused on several key priorities aimed at eliminating the state $72 billion in unfunded retiree healthcare obligations. These strategies include the state and employees equally sharing in the pre-funding of normal costs for future retiree healthcare benefits, and modifying the state’s contribution in vesting schedules for retiree care for future workers… The Budget sets aside an additional $350 million ($300 million General Fund) to fund potential employee compensation increases subject to good faith bargaining under the Ralph C Dills Act.”

Budget Proposal Under Scrutiny.  We are evaluating exactly what Governor’s budget proposal means for state scientists—including scientific supervisors.  The current documents don’t lay that out in sufficient detail.  Based on the structure of the proposed budget overall, the $350 million pot of money mentioned above looks to be earmarked for general salary increases across bargaining unit lines, not just for Unit 10.  If that’s the case, it doesn’t go very far.  We estimate that required full funding for Like Pay for Like Work in Unit 10 will cost upwards of $120 million.

This will all be subject to discussion during our bargaining sessions. Again, on behalf of the CAPS Team, we ask for your patience and support.

Patty Velez                                              Scott Bauer
President                                                 Vice President
Bargaining Team Member             Bargaining Team Chair

December 23, 2015 Bargaining Update
Happy Holidays!

Dear Colleagues:

Before we get to some important business regarding our primary mission on your behalf—improving pay and benefits, and protecting what we’ve all worked so hard to earn over the years—we wish all of YOU and your LOVED ONES a peaceful Christmas Holiday and Happy New Year!

We have been informed that a segment of the membership will be conducting an informational picket of Governor Brown’s new residence at the refurbished Governor’s mansion in Sacramento. We think this is overly confrontational with Governor Brown and a bad idea.  We have established a Member Action Committee to evaluate all recommendations for member action.  This one was never even proposed to the MAC before it was announced. It won’t receive any support whatsoever from CAPS.

We have also been barraged with suggestions to hire new or replacement professionals to reframe, renew or regenerate our message that State Scientists deserve Salary Equity NOW!  This presumably assumes that Governor Brown and his appointees haven’t heard or don’t understand our demand for Salary Equity NOW!

As you may recall, it was CAPS over a year ago that began asking all of YOU to MAKE NOISE in support of the CAPS bargaining effort. You did that in large numbers and with enthusiasm – –letters, petitions and rallies, both at the state capitol and at CalHR.  Along the way we REJECTED ratification of not one but TWO tentative agreements at the bargaining table.

We believe these were very effective in reinforcing the CAPS bargaining proposals.  We have no doubt that Governor Brown, his Department of Finance, and CalHR are all keenly aware of our collective dissatisfaction with their “5-5-5” offer. This video produced by us with our staff sums up the issues and our collective efforts pretty well we think:  CAPS Video:  California’s State Scientists – Important Work Deserves Fair Pay.

But this doesn’t mean that we should ratchet things up still further and invade the Governor’s personal space. Delivering the same basic message with a megaphone at his home won’t help. He won’t appreciate it, and frankly, it’s not worth the potential damage it would do in any future reply from him.  We should all be conscious that actions by some of us can reflect on all of us–and on CAPS, which to Governor Brown is the organized “face” of state scientists.

We had planned to sponsor another Rally, either at the state capital or at CalHR. Those plans are on hold in light of the planned January 7 Rally at the Governor’s residence.  When we do another Rally—IF we do another Rally—we should do ONE Rally, with all of us together in one place, sponsored by CAPS, so Governor Brown, the state Legislature and the public hear a unified message.

We asked for your patience and your support as we continue to make our best efforts in collective bargaining.  Like it or not, that IS the place we must rely on to negotiate ANY potential increase in salary in the near term.  We don’t rule out other avenues to achieve our goals, such as the courts, but in the short run, we bargain—just like all other state employee groups and California public employees.  We are fortunate to have limited rights to collectively bargain, something that is being taken from public employees in other states across the nation.

We will also continue to look at other creative and positive ways to bring the best possible offer back to you for your review.  It’s certainly our collective right to say NO! to a final offer that Governor Brown considers “generous.”  But we shouldn’t dispute his right to make that offer, or to be overly confrontational in delivering our message back to him.

Wishing Everyone a Happy Holiday Season!

Patty Velez                                              Scott Bauer
President                                                 Vice President
Bargaining Team Member             Bargaining Team Chair

November 25, 2015 Bargaining Update

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with state negotiators on four consecutive business days ending late yesterday. These lengthy, intensive meetings with Governor Brown’s representatives from CalHR and the Department of Finance (DOF) unfortunately didn’t result in a new MOU.  Nor was any significant progress made towards CAPS’ goal of Salary Equity.  In summary:

      • The reconstituted CAPS Team remained resolute with the need to achieve Salary Equity for all state scientists.
      • Governor Brown’s representatives refused to make any new salary proposal of any kind.  In fact, both the CalHR negotiator and the DOF representative said emphatically that there will be no increase whatsoever in the expenditure of the approximately $53 million earmarked to fund the “5% – 5% – 5%” final offer rejected by the CAPS membership on October 6.

We Offered Alternatives. The CAPS Team offered alternative scenarios to achieve salary equity.  This was intended to provoke discussion and negotiation on new terms that would ultimately achieve Salary Equity for one and ALL State Scientists. These scenarios involved phasing raises in over time and revisiting the Reclassification and Pay Project, among others things.  All of these were summarily rejected by Governor Brown’s Team because the costs exceed their “maximum expenditure threshold.”

We told CalHR and the DOF in no uncertain terms that more money is needed for an MOU to be ratified by the CAPS membership. But they were just as emphatic in asserting that there isn’t one nickel more than what was offered in the last tentative agreement.

The meetings finally concluded late yesterday, with no agreement in sight.

Mediation Requested.  CAPS requested CalHR’s agreement to appoint an impartial mediator to assist the parties reach full and final agreement.   CalHR is considering our request for mediation, and evaluating meeting date alternatives. The CAPS Team requested to meet during December and January. CalHR said it is somewhat limited in availability due to ongoing negotiations in other bargaining units.

Rally Media Coverage.  CalHR made no mention of last Thursday’s CAPS Rally, in spite of the fact that over 200 State Scientists made considerable NOISE during the demonstration. The one publicly reported story came from News10, which aired this story on its November 19 5pm news broadcast: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2thmbd4e3fnapey/Pay%20Rally%20%20KXTV-ABC10%20%205pm%20%20Sac%2C%20CA%20%2011-19-2015.mp4?dl=0.

See a short video of the Rally HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztbyMRpCHOs

See CAPS Rally pics HERE: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/byljs5c9te96rdb/AADWdfJNQUBTyqSfmKYr6svBa?dl=0

Scott Bauer, Chair, CAPS Bargaining Team

Patty Velez, President & Team Member

We Made NOISE!
November 20 Bargaining Update

Rally Support For Pay Equity! The NOISE started early Thursday and lasted well into the early afternoon in front of the Sacramento CalHR Headquarters. Nearly 250 CAPS members came from FAR and WIDE to be seen and to MAKE NOISE in support of SALARY EQUITY for ALL State Scientists!  Together we showed Governor Brown and CalHR that WE ARE UNITED!

Everyone Was Invited. Many came, and not just from the Sacramento area. Fired-up scientists—including many scientific supervisors–travelled from the Bay Area, from Redding, from central California, from Los Angeles and from other points in between.  The entire CAPS Bargaining Team took a break from negotiations and marched with us. A HUGE THANKS to everyone who helped plan and execute the best rally EVER by CAPS members. THANK YOU!

Take a look HERE: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/byljs5c9te96rdb/AADWdfJNQUBTyqSfmKYr6svBa?dl=0

Bargaining Commences. The Rally kicked off the resumption of contract bargaining with Cal HR. It continues today, and through next Tuesday – – as long as it takes to achieve our goals. On behalf of the reconstituted CAPS Bargaining Team, look for more details upon conclusion of these few days of talks. In the meantime, continue to look for ways to support your Bargaining Team and the Member Action Committee.

David Rist, Chair
CAPS Member Action Committee

Scott Bauer, Chair
CAPS Bargaining Team

November 19 RALLY

Show YOUR Support For Salary Equity November 19!

The Rally will commence promptly at NOON in front of the CalHR Headquarters–1515 S Street, Sacramento.  That’s where Governor Brown’s negotiators work.  Your CAPS Bargaining Team needs a huge turnout to coincide with the beginning of the latest round of contract bargaining. Help your colleagues show Governor Brown and CalHR that state scientists are determined and UNITED.  RESPECT in the workplace and EQUITY in our paychecks.


Salary Equity for State Scientists is good for everyone, so EVERYONE is invited.  This means other state employees, supervisors and managers, children, family pets, and especially YOU!

We’ll make sure participants have symbolic gear (such as lab coats and Tyvek suits), and the appropriate signage to support the event – – or feel free to bring your own. NO noisemaking devices allowed per the CHP.

Rallying Creates An Appetite

That’s why every CAPS member who attends may receive a food coupon discount for a food truck on-site. These coupons can be downloaded online (details later) and will be available on-site. One coupon per member, please.

CAPS will bring the sights and sounds to make this an appropriately NOISY and newsworthy event, all in support of Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists.   The Rally is a short walk or drive for those in or around Sacramento.  Light Rail is also a great option with a stop at 16th Street, just one block from CalHR. From outside Sacramento, carpool! Please arrive no later than 11:30 a.m. at 16th and R Streets.

Schedule The Time!

Please schedule this event and request time off if necessary. A list of event coordinators can be viewed here: http://capsscientists.org/bargaining/membership-action-coordinators/

If someone in YOUR workplace should be on this list, please let us know: 

Making Noise Is Our RIGHT!

Making NOISE peacefully in public space is a constitutional right and is a protected activity under California’s collective bargaining laws. If ANYONE says you can’t, or unduly prevents you or a colleague from participating, please contact CAPS immediately – – we’ll intervene!

Bargaining Resumes
November 9, 2015

Negotiations with CalHR resumes on Thursday, November 19, and may continue on each of four consecutive business days through Tuesday, November 24. The goal is to reach tentative agreement on a new Memorandum Of Understanding which includes Salary Equity for ALL State Scientists. Resumption of bargaining is necessary because the most recent tentative agreement reached between CalHR and CAPS was rejected overwhelmingly by the CAPS membership.

The members of the reconstituted CAPS Bargaining Team were approved at the first meeting of the 2015–17 CAPS Board of Directors on Saturday November 7. That Team will include:

              • Chairperson (CAPS Vice President) Scott Bauer, CDFW Eureka Senior ES Specialist;
              • PresidentPatty Velez (CDFW Monterey Senior ES Specialist);
              • TreasurerPatti Rich–Crawford (CDPH Richmond Research Scientist I);
              • Director Stephanie Lewis(DTSC Chatsworth Environmental Scientist);
              • Director David Rist (DTSC Berkeley Senior ES Specialist); and
            • Director Jim McCall (CDFW Sacramento Staff Chemist).

Thanks to ALL members who expressed an interest in serving on the CAPS Team. You can expect our Team to press CalHR and Governor Brown for long overdue increases to salaries, starting with Salary Equity.  Protecting and improving our valuable benefits is also a priority. The CAPS Team asks YOU and ALL members to continue to carefully follow and support developments at the bargaining table, to MAKE NOISE and participate in activities that support the Team!  We will be well supported by professional staff.

Making NOISE!  The CAPS Board of Directors is determined to promote membership activities that support CAPS’ efforts at the bargaining table. These efforts will be coordinated by a CAPS Membership Action Committee chaired by Bay Area Director David Rist. Mr. Rist plans a fast-track approach to developing and implementing organized, responsible and NOISY activities that maximize membership involvement. This effort needs YOUR help! If YOU want to participate on this committee, or have ideas for committee activities, please forward them to David Rist at this address: 

CAPS Board Meeting Summary.The first meeting of the 2015–17 CAPS Board of Directors was marked with the professionalism and courtesy that is typical of our business meetings.  After a spirited election campaign, all those who participated were congratulated and the winners welcomed and sworn in for the new term. Our intent is to make decisions based on consensus whenever possible, and to consider input from as many members as possible prior to making important decisions. We want the entire membership to unify in support of the effort CAPS is making to promote the critical environmental, public health and safety work we all  perform. We will have more details of this meeting in upcoming Updates.   That includes incorporating improvements in our communications processes, something that will be coordinated by District Director Stephanie Lewis (), chair of the Membership Communications Committee. In the meantime, please feel free to communicate with one or more of your elected CAPS Officers and/or Directors.  Here is a list of CAPS Officers and Directors, with email addresses to facilitate communications: http://capsscientists.org/contact/bod/  Items of general concerns can always be sent to CAPS here: 

Retirement Initiative Undermines Retirement Security.Former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio and former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed are expected to soon be circulating yet another retirement ballot measure.  Expect it to dramatically reduce pension benefits for future hires, and to destabilize existing plans for current and retired California public employees. It will do this by closing existing pension plans (including CalPERS) to new employees and prohibit government employers from contributing funds to existing pension plans to fund promised benefits without voter approval. You can help by urging your family, friends and neighbors NOT to sign this petition!   CAPS lists pension stories in the news on our web page, and we update that list almost daily:  http://capsscientists.org/retirement/

As always, THANK YOU for your support!

Patty Velez, President
Scott Bauer, VP and Bargaining Chair

CAPS MOU Rejected!
October 6, 2015

CAPS members today resoundingly REJECTED the proposed three-year Memorandum of Understanding between CAPS and the Jerry Brown Administration.

The count was 382 in favor of ratification (27.52%), and 1006 against (72.48%). The return was 55% of eligible voters.  CAPS has notified CalHR of this outcome and requested that negotiations resume immediately. The CAPS Bargaining Team is committed to negotiating more favorable terms than those in the MOU just rejected by the CAPS membership. Most importantly, CAPS remains committed to SALARY EQUITY for ALL state scientists!

CAPS Bargaining Chair Patty Velez had this to say upon seeing the results: “This contract was far short of what is needed to bring an equitable and satisfactory conclusion to these negotiations.  We look forward to returning to the bargaining table with Governor Brown’s negotiators to restore salary equity for ALL State Scientists.”

So What Happens Next?  The existing MOU remains in effect.  State law keeps virtually all provisions of the expired contract in effect while negotiations are underway (see Government Code Section 3517.8).  Those provisions are in effect unless and until formal impasse is reached in the negotiations process. Impasse occurs either when the parties declare impasse jointly, or when one party petitions the state Public Employment Relations Board to make that determination, and the PERB agrees to do it after an investigation. One key provision of the existing agreement is a “no strike” clause that prohibits any job action that would interrupt the performance of the state’s work, either by CAPS or state scientists represented by CAPS (see MOU Section 13.1).

Bargaining Resumes!  Your CAPS Bargaining Team will resume negotiations with CalHR as soon as possible.  The goal is to reach tentative agreement with terms that achieve salary equity.

CAPS President David Miller requests a statement of interest from ANY CAPS member interested in serving on a newly reconstituted CAPS Bargaining Team. All requests will be considered, with the following minimum qualifications:

              • Continuous membership in CAPS of at least one year.
              • Willingness to spend long hours preparing for and participating in contract bargaining, away from work and personal matters (state time for meetings is provided).  Negotiating a labor contract typically requires 20 or more days of time, plus travel.
              • Willingness and ability to work as a team, considering the needs of ALL Rank-and-File state scientists.

If interested, please submit your statement of interest and any relevant qualifications by Monday, October 19 to: .

Making More NOISE!  CAPS will be asking ALL CAPS members to participate in legal and appropriate activities in support of the bargaining effort while the negotiations process is underway.

The CAPS ratification ballot count was conducted entirely by TrueBallot, an independent balloting service. See more about them here: http://www.trueballot.com/trueballot.aspx.

Thanks To Everyone Who Voted!

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