CAPS MOU Ratified

CAPS MOU Ratified
September 11, 2014

CAPS MOU Ratification Election Results

CAPS members overwhelmingly approved the new CAPS MOU when ballots were counted earlier today. The final count was 1,171 in favor (86.87%), and just 177 opposed (13.13%).  The final tally, certified by Trueballot, can be found here:  http://capsscientists.org/wp-content/uploads/September-11-election-results.pdf.

CAPS Bargaining Chair Patty Velez had this to say upon seeing the results: “State scientists once again made an important decision in our long quest for salary equity. We look forward to working with Governor Brown in bringing important reforms to the state classification structure, and addressing the recruitment and retention needs of state scientists.”

This vote represents the final step in the ratification process (the state Legislature previously approved the MOU in AB 879). Here’s what it means, among other things:

  • The Reclassification and Pay Project resumes with a scheduled completion date of January 30, 2015.  CalHR has agreed to negotiate salary ranges as part of that process, something they had refused to agree to do until now.  The first meeting between CAPS and CalHR will be held tomorrow, September 12.
  • The increased lodging and meal amounts are effective October 2014.
  • Every Unit 10 scientist will immediately receive a $1000 cash bonus.
  • This two–year agreement (July 2, 2013-July 1, 2015), provides one general salary increase for all Unit 10 scientists: 3% on July 1, 2015.
  • Employer contributions to fund health benefit increases continue in accordance with the “80/80” funding formula (80% state contribution for the employee; 80% state contribution for dependents).
  • Cost of new employees’ dependent health care is reduced.
  • State departments may offer scientists the opportunity to cash-out up to 20 hours of accrued vacation leave annually starting in 2015, based on availability of funds.
  • Future negotiations will be off-cycle from SEIU Local 1000.

It is significant to note that state scientific supervisors just received salary increases of up to 43%. That’s due to the CAPS’ Like Pay For Like Work litigation, and the willingness of Governor Brown to finally fund it.  CAPS’ goal is to extend those raises to ALL rank-and-file scientists!  

TrueBallot, an independent service, once again coordinated this secret ballot.

This MOU doesn’t by itself achieve salary equity of course. It does include the next best thing, a clear pathway to get there. CAPS’ ultimate goal: salary equity for ALL state scientists!

Thanks to everyone who cast a vote!

Reasons to Vote No!?
August 27, 2014

Before you read further, please watch this video of CAPS President David Miller explain his reasons to vote YES on ratification: http://capsscientists.org/bargaining/vote-yes-on-new-caps-tentative-agreement/

Vote NO? Sure, we’ve heard several long-time, active CAPS members express strong reservations about this Tentative Agreement. These members have given several valid reasons why some members may vote no. These include the fact that the Reclassification Project has been ongoing for many months but hasn’t produced new money up to now.  Why should it in the future? Or that a better course might be to reject this deal, and go to Impasse, just like IUOE did. Or that they are just fed-up with the way things have gone. Voting NO! Is the best way to express that.

Vote YES! To those members, we would say this: it’s time to look past old grievances, and look at the opportunity before us. Here are 10 reasons CAPS President David Miller gave to his colleagues to vote YES!:

#1– CalHR agreed to negotiate the pay ranges for ALL of the Reclassification and Pay Project groups (virtually all CAPS members) by January 30.

#2-If ratified, we return to the bargaining table September 12 regarding the Reclassification and Pay Project.

#3-The Agreement is really just 10 months. If CalHR fails to address our pay issues, we are back in regular salary negotiations just after the first of the year in 2015, NOT 2016.

#4-The 3% pay increase in a two-year deal, plus a $1000 bonus, is BETTER than 4.5% over three years, even without the expectation of special salary adjustments.

#5-This deal, while meager in guaranteed money, is proportionately better than what any other bargaining units negotiated.

#6-This deal provides a path to salary equity that doesn’t require Republicans to vote for it.

#7-It allows funding for the new salary ranges to be included in the Governor’s next state budget, a MAJORITY vote bill.

#8-All Unit 10 members will immediately receive the bonus. It pencils out to around 2% for most scientists.

#9-We aren’t naïve.  Even if we get double-crossed (which we don’t expect), we will be back at the table immediately following the release of the pay equity increases of up to 43% for state scientific supervisors.  We don’t have to wait another year to negotiate like the other groups do.

#10-If we reject this short term agreement, the state is extremely unlikely to offer us a better deal, or even the same deal.  That’s just reality.

#11– Here’s an EXTRA reason to vote yes— the soonest we can get another agreement ratified isn’t until 2015 anyway – – AFTER the state Legislature returns from its winter recess.  Why wait?!

Didn’t Get A Timely Ballot?  Contact if you don’t receive your ballot by August 29.  Vote only ONCE.

Again, whether you plan to vote FOR or AGAINST, please VOTE!!


Cast Your Ballot!
August 26, 2014

Ratification Ballots Mailed TODAY!  You will soon receive a ballot that puts the fate of the latest Tentative Agreement between CAPS and Governor Brown in YOUR hands!

That’s right, this Tentative Agreement becomes effective ONLY if you and a majority of voting CAPS members SUPPORT ratification.

Here’s a summary, with important details: http://capsscientists.org/bargaining/bargaining-update/

You can read the five new provisions that make this TA different—and BETTER—than the last one: http://capsscientists.org/bargaining/tentative-agreements/

One HUGE difference between this Tentative Agreement and the last one:  the CAPS Bargaining Team recommends a YES (AYE) vote this time.  Here’s why:

  • State scientific supervisors just received salary increases of up to 43%! That’s due to the CAPS Like Pay For Like Work litigation, and the willingness of Governor Brown to fund it–FINALLY.  The next step is to extend those raises to ALL rank-and-file scientists—including YOU!  The best way to do that is with the Reclassification and Pay Program outlined in this proposed agreement: http://capsscientists.org/wp-content/uploads/4-TA-Aug-12-2014-Reclass-Comm.pdf
  • This Project resumes with a projected completion date of January 30, 2015.  CalHR has agreed to negotiate salary ranges as part of that process, something they had refused to agree to until now.  There are no guarantees regarding outcome, but the table is set!
  • This Agreement finally implements the increased lodging and meal amounts.
  • Future negotiations would be off-cycle from SEIU Local 1000.
  • This two – year agreement (July 2, 2013-July 1, 2015), provides one general salary increase for all Unit 10 scientists: 3% on July 1, 2015.
  • Every Unit 10 scientist would immediately receive a $1000 cash bonus, which is taxable but does not add to base salary.
  • Employer contributions to fund health benefit increases continue in accordance with the “80/80” funding formula (80% state contribution for the employee; 80% state contribution for dependents).
  • State departments will offer scientists the opportunity to cash-out up to 20 hours of accrued vacation leave annually, based on availability of funds, starting in 2015.

Balloting With Integrity.  TrueBallot, an independent service, is again coordinating this secret ballot. The count is September Only members – – not fee payers – – will have their votes counted in this MOU ratification election.

If You Don’t Get A Timely Ballot?  Contact if you don’t receive your ballot by August 29.  Vote only ONCE.

What if the CAPS membership APPROVES The MOU? Then the contract becomes effective.  The CAPS Bargaining Team would immediately continue negotiations to implement the Reclassification and Pay Project.  Every Unit 10 scientist would receive the $1000 bonus check, and a 3% general salary increase next July 1.

What If The Membership REJECTS The MOU?  The contract then is NOT approved.  Its provisions are NOT effective. There would be no Reclassification and Pay Project. There would be no $1000 bonus check. No 3% raise next July 1. 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 you will receive a ratification ballot. You can join online here: http://capsscientists.org/contact/application/

Message From the CAPS Team:  On behalf of the entire CAPS Team, this TA doesn’t achieve salary equity, but it includes the next best thing, a clear pathway to get there. Our ultimate goal: salary equity for ALL state scientists!

Again, whether you plan to vote FOR or AGAINST, please VOTE!!


LPLW Update
August 20, 2014

The much anticipated LPLW Pay Letter from CalHR has finally been released. It fully implements the CAPS’ 2008 Like Pay For Like Work decision, and thus extends a general salary increase of between approximately 23% – 43% to the classifications covered by the original decision, as amended.  It is effective July 1, 2014. You can see relevant portions here:

http://capsscientists.org/wp-content/uploads/Pay-Letter.pdf

CAPS’ goal is—and always has been–to extend these increases to rank-and-file state scientists.  That’s why the case was filed in the first place.  The best way to get this done once and for all is with ratification of the MOU.  This would trigger immediate resumption of salary negotiations under the framework of the Reclassification Project.

The Pay Letter as written provides a tangible, positive step towards CAPS’ goal of salary equity. And yes, the case was always limited to supervisors, but only because it had to be.  CAPS would have filed the original case on behalf of rank-and-file scientists if the legal grounds had been available.  It had to be limited to supervisors because rank-and-file scientists have bargaining as the sole legal process for addressing pay and benefit disputes.

Nevertheless, incomplete as it is, this Pay Letter demonstrates Governor Brown’s support of the Like Pay for Like Work concept embodied in our 2008 case.  CAPS’ lawyers also continue to look for any promising new legal strategy that could speed application of LPLW to rank-and-file state scientists.

The Alternative Path.  Rejection of the MOU—the choice is in YOUR hands—means resuming negotiations with no Reclassification Project, no travel reimbursement increases, no bonus check, and no guarantee of future wage increases whatsoever.  Some are suggesting that CAPS should take this path, declare impasse and organize job actions.  This is a bad choice right now.  That’s because impasse and job actions give MANAGEMENT the right to implement its last, best and final offer, should it make one, and puts us in the tough position of taking significant risks with job actions.  There may be a right time for this alternative path, but it’s not right now.

The CAPS Bargaining Team recommends an AYE vote on ratification.

THANKS your patience and support as we continue to press for salary equity for all state scientists!
Reclassification Project


August 18, 2014

As you know, the CAPS Bargaining Team on August 12 reached tentative agreement (TA) for a second time with Governor Brown’s CalHR.  You and all CAPS members will have the opportunity to vote on it, with ballots mailed August 26 and counted September 11.  A key element of this TA is the Reclassification Project, which CAPS believes creates an opportunity to achieve salary equity for ALL state scientists.

This communication is devoted primarily to the Reclassification Project.  This does not diminish other important elements of the TA: a shorter-term agreement that is “off-track” from SEIU in bargaining; the fact that this TA that provides for renewed negotiations immediately (rather than waiting for months or years to get back to the bargaining table), and one that provides some modest compensation adjustments during its term.

Please take a moment to carefully read the provision that would govern negotiations on the Reclassification Project:  http://capsscientists.org/wp-content/uploads/4-TA-Aug-12-2014-Reclass-Comm.pdf

Note this language in particular:  “The Committee shall prepare classification packages…no later than January 30, 2015…the parties shall endeavor to reach agreement regarding compensation related to these classifications for the successor agreement prior to their submission to the State Personnel Board.”

This language, in our view, provides a pathway for achieving CAPS’ ultimate goal: salary equity for ALL state scientists.  http://capsscientists.org/bargaining/tentative-agreements/

Here are important explicit or implicit elements of this Project:

  • Salary equity requires very large salary increases.  These are very difficult to obtain via the traditional negotiations process.  So this is an alternative process designed specifically to address long overdue salary and classification problems.  It has happened in other bargaining units in a significant way (DMV employees in Units 1 and 7), and it can happen in a big way in Unit 10.  But we need this language.
  • The Reclassification Project process imposes an important deadline:  January 30, 2015. Both parties—CAPS and CalHR–would have the obligation to negotiate in good faith and to endeavor to reach agreement on new salary ranges.  Without guaranteeing an outcome—this does not do that—it does provide a meaningful framework and a clear deadline for outcomes.
  • Membership Involvement is Essential.  These classification changes will require both compensation and technical elements. CAPS is committed to keeping you informed and involved so the process has the best possible outcome.
  • “Reforms” State Government. CAPS’ primary motivation for this project is salary equity.  The state needs to modernize the state’s classification structure, and cooperation from CAPS is essential to do it. This has repeatedly been the focus of Little Hoover Commission studies.  Here’s one that caused a recent personnel shakeup at CalHR: http://www.lhc.ca.gov/studies/220/report220.html  And one from 1995!: http://www.lhc.ca.gov/studies/133/report133.pdf
  • Quickest Route to Finish Line.  We should soon see new, higher salary schedules for scientific supervisors.  Once that occurs, we need a process in place that allows for the same thing to happen for state scientists.  The Reclassification Project is expressly designed for this purpose.

You may also wonder where YOUR classification fits in to this process, and where it would end up after completion.  We don’t have all of these questions answered yet, and that’s a big reason for doing this work.

For Environmental Scientists, by far the largest state scientist classification, you may wonder why the ES series needs more changes.  Well, it does.  Some important work in the first round was undone.  We want a new advanced rank-and-file level above the current Senior Technical series, with a commensurate salary range.  Other classifications may still need to folded into the ES series.  This Project is the only way to get it done.

For Research Scientists–and all scientist classes proposed to be folded into this series–this Project is the best way to define the minimum education and professional duties of this group, and to ensure that all those affected receive competitive salary range equivalency.

For the other classification series in the Project, there’s unfinished work: Heritage Scientist; Health Physicist; Industrial Hygienist; Earth Scientist; Energy Scientist; Hazardous Materials Specialist and Lab Scientist.  We need to resume this important work!

The CAPS Bargaining Team worked really hard to make salary equity a reality this year.  It simply wasn’t possible.  So we obtained what we think is second best: a short-term contract with a process that provides a pathway to get there.  The Reclassification Project is that pathway.

There is much more than can be explained here, but hopefully this is a start, one that gives you the same confidence we have:  this Project provides no firm guarantees, but it the best option available.

Worksite Meetings:  We will schedule as many as we can, given the limited time we have, and the great demands on our time.

The CAPS Team recommends an AYE vote on ratification.

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Bargaining Update
August 14, 2014

We have received many emails and phone calls regarding the latest Tentative Agreement. Many of you have asked why the CAPS Team is recommending a yes vote on this deal, when it appears on its face to be no better than the last one. Fair enough. Your CAPS Team expected that question. Let us explain.

The previous tentative agreement was rejected overwhelmingly for good reason: there was no path to salary equity. Every member of the CAPS Team voted against it. Yet the Team recommends that this one be ratified. The difference is that the agreement is shorter-term – it ends less than one year from now.  We would finally be off-track from SEIU in bargaining, and CalHR has agreed to negotiate new salary ranges via the Reclassification Project, something they previously would not agree to. The CAPS Team views that as a significant departure from the State’s previous position and enough to warrant ratification.

Why Not Salary Equity NOW?   This agreement does not provide salary equity, or anything close to it.  It simply isn’t possible this year. We spent countless hours working on it. Governor Brown simply won’t agree to it this year. Nevertheless, this agreement expires just 10 months from now. So it is essentially a one-year deal, not three.  The 3% general salary increase for one year versus 4.5% over three years will ultimately result in more for everyone, we believe. Plus each of you receives a $1,000 check immediately. 

Reclassification Project.  Specifics of the Reclassification Project can be found in the NEW Article 17.5 section of the Tentative Agreement (http://capsscientists.org/wp-content/uploads/4-TA-Aug-12-2014-Reclass-Comm.pdf). That provision states that CAPS and CalHR shall finalize classification change packages by January 30, 2015.   There are nine separate classification groupings, and those incorporate nearly all Unit 10 classifications.

Most importantly, CAPS and CalHR “shall endeavor to reach agreement regarding compensation related to these classifications.”  This is where salary equity can be achieved.  Sure, it takes money and good faith by CalHR to make this happen.  Both have been sorely lacking in recent years, just like it has for every other state bargaining unit. We believe times changed for the better, and we want the opportunity to make it happen.

Detailed information on the CAPS Reclassification Project is here:http://capsscientists.org/class-consolidations/

New Equity Based Salary Ranges. We expect CalHR to release a Pay Letter that will reestablish the historic salary relationships between scientists and engineers for state scientific supervisory classifications. That action is a direct result of CAPS efforts. The same thing can occur for all rank-and-file state scientists. But we have to negotiate them, and the sooner the better. The Reclassification Project is the vehicle to get us there.

Other State Employees Have Received Reclassification Increases. The substantial salary increases received recently by state water system operators and DMV staff were achieved through a reclassification process similar to the one CAPS is using, not at the main bargaining table. Those efforts are chronicled in documents currently on the CalHR webpage.

The DMV documents, for example: http://www.calhr.ca.gov/Documents/bu07-cslea-bu01-bu04-seiu-2012-2013-addenda-dmv-salary-classification-restructuring.pdf

Timing Is Everything. Completion of the Reclassification Project by January 30, 2015 — another feature of the tentative agreement–syncs up with the next budget cycle.  We will press to have those salary recommendations go into effect no later than the July 2015 pay period.

Travel Reimbursement Increases. As you know, we have pressed a grievance, and now a lawsuit, to retroactively enforce the higher lodging and meal reimbursement amounts. We won the grievance, but last Monday, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled in favor of CalHR.  He ruled that the award by Arbitrator Catherine Harris exceeded her authority. We think the judge was incorrect in his legal reasoning, and we are considering an appeal. Nevertheless, in the short term, this tentative agreement is the only sure way to see the increased lodging and meal amounts implemented immediately.

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New CAPS Agreement
August 13, 2014

Your CAPS Bargaining Team late yesterday reached a new Tentative Agreement (TA) after two days of intense mediated negotiations with Governor Brown’s Bargaining Team.  This TA is in the process of being submitted to you and all CAPS members for a ratification vote.

The CAPS Team this time is recommending that you vote YES on ratification.  That’s because while this agreement provides a modest increase in salary, more importantly, it provides a pathway for achieving CAPS’ ultimate goal: salary equity for ALL state scientists. This proposed agreement does not, on its own, achieve salary equity, but it does provide a pathway via the reclassification project for virtually all Unit 10 scientists.

In order for this TA to be effective, it must be ratified by BOTH the state Legislature and by a majority of CAPS members voting in a ratification election. The state Legislature will adjourn on August 31, so time is of the essence.  Likewise, CAPS asks all of you to mark and return your ratification ballot immediately upon receipt.

Here is a brief summary of the agreement (the individual tentative agreements remain the same with the exception of the five changes that result from the latest agreement: http://capsscientists.org/bargaining/tentative-agreements/)

All tentative agreements can soon be viewed on the CalHR webpage (http://www.calhr.ca.gov/):

  • Every Unit 10 scientist would immediately receive a $1000 cash bonus which is taxable but does not add to base salary.
  • The two – year agreement (July 2, 2013-July 1, 2015), provides one general salary increase for all Unit 10 scientists: 3% on July 1, 2015.
  • The classification project resumes with a projected completion date of January 30, 2015, and agreement by CalHR to negotiate salary ranges as part of that process.
  • Implements the new travel reimbursement schedule effective the month following ratification. These increased lodging and meal amounts, except for three Bay Area counties where lodging reimbursement is reduced.  (The increased amounts retroactive to July 2013 are subject to the outcome of the CAPS arbitration decision and subsequent litigation.)
  • Future negotiations (starting almost immediately upon ratification) would be off-cycle from SEIU.
  • Employer contributions to fund the statutorily provided increases for health benefits pursuant to the “80/80” funding formula are confirmed.
  • This agreement would improve the dependent health care coverage by increasing the state’s contribution for dependents during a new employee’s first year of employment.
  • Individual state departments would be allowed to offer scientists the ability to cash out up to 20 hours of accrued vacation leave based on availability of funding starting in 2015.
  • No mandatory unpaid furloughs would be allowed during the contract term.
  • Every state scientist would be entitled to propose a professional development plan annually with a written response required within 30 business days. That plan may include up to two job-related professional conferences, and may involve reimbursement for travel, registration, materials and state time. All this is subject to departmental approval.
  • DWR Environmental Scientists in the Division of Operations and Maintenance would be allowed to participate in an existing incentive program that awards CTO for meeting program goals.

Perhaps most importantly, this proposed agreement provides a mechanism to continue negotiation of classification changes which are designed to cover virtually all state scientists and provide competitive salaries that reflect historical salary relationships between scientists and state engineers, and the results of repeated joint salary surveys with CalHR.

CAPS is dedicated to improving and protecting salaries, benefits and working conditions for state scientists. Toward this end, CAPS is one of the LAST organizations to reach tentative agreement with the Brown Administration in this bargaining cycle, and one of just two that soundly rejected the last proposed agreement based on a vote of the membership.

Your CAPS Bargaining Team hoped to make this the year for salary equity, but that simply isn’t possible. Alternatively, your CAPS Team pledged to hold out until there was a clear pathway available for salary equity, and we believe that pathway is established. It will require more intense work by your CAPS Team, and likely involvement from many of you as subject matter experts.

Under these difficult circumstances your CAPS Team carefully weighed the options and concluded that this short-term agreement is the best that can be achieved. It is a better alternative than going into the fall and winter with no new agreement in place.  Nevertheless, the CAPS Team is committed to letting you – – the CAPS membership – – make the final decision.

Salary Equity For State Scientist Supervisors. The CAPS Team is mindful of the fact that CalHR is likely to soon release a pay letter that implements and funds the “Like Pay For Like Work” decision for most state scientific supervisors. We don’t yet know exactly how many supervisors will achieve salary equity, or how much they will receive. But we do know that those salary increases, if implemented, will be substantial. The equity package for supervisors is a good thing – – it has long been sought by CAPS.  This tentative agreement provides the opportunity to achieve the same thing for rank-and-file scientists.

Balloting Underway.  A ballot is being mailed to the home address of every CAPS member by Trueballot, an independent election administrator. The results will be tabulated on September 11, so please mark and return your ballot IMMEDIATELY.  Again, the CAPS Team urges a YES vote.

What if the CAPS membership APPROVES The MOU? Then the contract becomes effective.  Every Unit 10 scientist would receive the $1000 bonus check, and a 3% general salary increase next July 1. The CAPS Bargaining Team would immediately continue negotiations to implement the reclassification projects as a pathway to salary equity for ALL state scientists.

What If The Membership REJECTS The MOU?  The contract then is NOT approved and its provisions are NOT effective. There would be no $1000 bonus check, and no 3% raise next July 1. 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 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 that achieves our goal, but it is something we can live with as we continue to work towards our ultimate goal: salary equity for ALL state scientists!  We believe it is the best that can be achieved under the circumstances, and that was the strong opinion of the mediator who facilitated the negotiations.

Again, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT during this challenging process! 

David Miller, CAPS President
Patty Velez, CAPS Bargaining Chairperson


Bargaining Update
July 14, 2014

CAPS yesterday once again met with state negotiators from CalHR, facilitated by a mediator from the state mediation and conciliation service. While no formal agreements were reached, there was a frank discussion of remaining issues and a genuine effort to further the process towards an overall agreement.

There is considerable impatience and frustration at the lack of progress towards an acceptable agreement, and that more substantive details of our discussions are not published here.  That is understandable. Please understand, however, that the mediation process is confidential by design. Publishing details of pending discussions tend to discourage frank communication during the course of negotiations, and may inhibit the exploration of alternatives. So, like all such mediation sessions, details of the sessions themselves remain confidential to the parties who participate. When and if there is a final result worthy of consideration by CAPS members, you will immediately be notified, and you will be given the opportunity to make the final decision on it. In the meantime, please be assured that the CAPS Bargaining Team understands your needs when it comes to salary and benefits, and that those are reflected in the discussions with the CalHR negotiators. Thanks for your continued patience.


Bargaining Update
July 14, 2014

Last Friday, July 11, CAPS and CalHR resumed negotiations for a new tentative agreement. This followed rejection of the last tentative agreement by CAPS members. At Friday’s meeting, CalHR came with no more money, and had no response to the CAPS proposal (below) so the bargaining teams are scheduled to meet again July 16. CAPS suggested that a mediator be brought in to assist with negotiations on July 16.  CalHR said they would consider it.

While CalHR had no substantive change in position, CAPS did. The essence of the CAPS proposal remains the same: a 30% salary equity increase for all state scientists, a 10% differential for scientists working in high-cost counties, and resumption of the class consolidation project that CalHR insisted on dropping prior to the last tentative agreement. The difference is, CAPS expressly invited CalHR to “make a good-faith step, or multiple steps, towards achieving salary equity during this contract term.”

Membership Survey.  The CAPS Bargaining Team wants to hear from you in a short, simple survey. Please take 3 to 5 minutes to review and respond to the survey which will help guide the CAPS Team during its effort to achieve salary equity.

Legislature Continues Its Recess. For an agreement to be effective before 2015, time is short.  Any new tentative agreement reached by the CAPS Bargaining Team must be ratified by both the state Legislature and CAPS members. The state Legislature returns from its July summer recess August 4. At the end of August, it will adjourn for the year, and won’t reconvene until January 2015.  So CAPS is focused on getting an acceptable agreement done, and is urging CalHR to do to the same. The alternative is to have negotiations continue into the fall months.

Existing Terms Continue.  State Scientists continue to live under the terms of the old agreement, as required by state law: see Government Code Section 3517.8. This means that the state cannot unilaterally change your pay and benefits, and that CAPS as an organization cannot advocate or engage in any activity that interrupts the state’s work, nor can state scientists participate in any such activity.

Furlough Case Submitted.  CAPS on July 9 argued for a successful outcome to the last of the furlough litigation before a three Justice panel of the First District Court of Appeal. CAPS made clear that rank-and-file state scientists endured a “disproportionate” salary reduction beyond what the Legislature had authorized because they were furloughed two days beyond what other employees were furloughed in 2011.  If the trial court decision ordering back pay is upheld, the payment due state scientists should include interest.   A written decision from the Appellate Court is expected within 60 days.


Bargaining Resumes
July 8, 2014

This Friday, July 11, CalHR will resume negotiations for a new tentative agreement at CAPS’ request.

This follows rejection of the last tentative agreement by CAPS members in a vote tabulated on June 30, 2014: 69% to 31%.  Lack of salary equity was the principal reason that proposal was rejected.

The CAPS Bargaining Team will continue the push for salary equity for scientists.  The CAPS Team assumes that Governor Brown isn’t likely to drastically change his position any time soon.  Nevertheless, the CAPS Team, led by Senior Environmental Scientist Patty Velez, is determined to negotiate more favorable terms that will prove to be acceptable to the CAPS membership. CAPS will consider all available avenues for resolution of this dispute, including mediation, the one form of impasse resolution specified under the Dills Act.  That’s the law which governs state employee collective bargaining.

Legislature On Recess. As you know, any new tentative agreement reached by the CAPS Bargaining Team must be ratified by both the state Legislature and CAPS members. The state Legislature returns from its July summer recess August 4. At the end of August, it will adjourn for the year, and won’t reconvene until January 2015.  So, as a practical matter, any new tentative agreement worthy of ratification by the state legislature must be reached no later than early August 2014.

Existing Terms Continue.  State Scientists continue to live under the terms of the old agreement, and that is according to state law: see Government Code Section 3518.7. This means that the state cannot unilaterally change your pay and benefits, and that CAPS as an organization cannot advocate or engage in any activity that interrupts the state’s work, nor can state scientists participate in any such activity. While strikes by public employees are indeed legal in California, we have a contractual obligation not to engage in them or to advocate any such activity. There is a process for reaching formal impasse, and if that becomes necessary, you will be informed in advance.


Bargaining Update
May 22, 2014

Your CAPS Bargaining Team on May 21 reached a Tentative Agreement (TA) with Governor Brown’s CalHR for a new MOU.  The CAPS Team is making NO RECOMMENDATION on whether you should vote IN FAVOR or AGAINST ratification.  That’s because the agreement falls far short of the goals and expectations the Team had for the outcome of negotiations.

In order for this TA to be effective, it must be ratified BOTH in the state legislature and by a majority of CAPS members voting in a ratification election.

If this TA achieved salary equity–or included a clear pathway to it – – the Team would recommend an AYE vote. But because the agreement reflects the basic pay package originally offered by CalHR without significant change, the CAPS Bargaining Team has NO RECOMMENDATION and is letting YOU–the CAPS membership–make the final decision on whether it becomes effective or not.

Here is a brief summary of the agreement (all of the individual tentative agreements can soon be viewed on the Cal HR webpage (http://www.calhr.ca.gov/):

  • The agreement (July 2, 2013-June 30, 2016), would include a general salary increase of 2% on July 1, 2014 and 2.5% on July 1, 2015.
  • Senior Environmental Scientist Specialists (class code 0765) would receive an additional general salary increase of 1.5% on July 1, 2015. This affects approximately 450 Sr. ES Specialists.
  • Employer contributions to fund the statutorily provided increases for health benefits pursuant to the “80/80” funding formula are confirmed.
  • This agreement would improve the dependent health care coverage by increasing the state’s contribution for dependents during a new employee’s first year of employment.
  • Individual state departments would be allowed to offer scientists the ability to cash out up to 20 hours of accrued vacation leave based on availability of funding starting in 2015.
  • No mandatory unpaid furloughs would be allowed during the contract term.
  • The new travel reimbursement schedule would be confirmed. It increases lodging and meal amounts, except for three Bay Area counties where lodging reimbursement is reduced (CAPS won a grievance arbitration on this topic recently, and the MOU would lock in the new schedule).
  • Every state scientist would be entitled to propose a professional development plan annually with a written response required within 30 business days. That plan may include up to two job-related professional conferences, and may involve reimbursement for travel, registration, materials and state time. All this is subject to departmental approval.
  • Approximately 13 DWR Environmental Scientists would be allowed to participate in an existing incentive program that awards CTO for meeting program goals. The incentive plan already includes employees from certain other bargaining units.

Your CAPS Team is obviously disappointed that Governor Brown will not agree to extend long overdue salary equity for state scientists. That is CAPS’ goal.  After all, CAPS is a rank-and-file organization dedicated exclusively to improving and protecting salaries, benefits and working conditions for state scientists. Toward this end, CAPS is one of the LAST two organizations to reach tentative agreement with the Brown Administration in this bargaining cycle.

Your CAPS Bargaining Team tried every strategy possible to convince the Brown Administration and its bargaining representatives at CalHR that THIS is the year for salary equity. Obviously, those efforts fell short.  Your CAPS Team is very disappointed in not presenting you a better agreement on which to vote.

Nevertheless, the CAPS Team is committed to letting you – – the CAPS membership – – make the final decision. We realize there will be conflicting views on this package. Some members have already told us that they are willing to accept this package.  Many others believe it to be sorely deficient–indeed insulting–given the long history of salary inequity among all state scientists.

Ballots Mailed Soon.  A ballot will be mailed to the home address of every CAPS member by TrueBallot, in independent election administrator. The results will be tabulated no later than June 30, 2014.

What If The Membership REJECTS The MOU?  The contract then is NOT approved and its provisions are NOT effective. The CAPS Bargaining Team would immediately resume negotiations for a successor MOU.  Provisions of the existing MOU would apply, as they do now.

And if the CAPS membership APPROVES The MOU? Then the contract becomes effective (assuming there is ratification in the state Legislature). The CAPS Bargaining Team would renew negotiations just prior to the expiration of the MOU during spring 2016.

Is ratification in the state legislature really an issue? Yes. In order for this tentative agreement to be subject to a majority vote in the state Legislature, rather than two thirds, it must be part of the budget package.  With all the procedural and review requirements to which a new labor agreement is subject, the deadline is imminent if an agreement is to be part of the June 15 budget package. Agreement later would subject an MOU to review in a stand–alone bill, subject to a two thirds vote requirement.  That would make ratification in the state Legislature much less likely because Democrats no longer have a two-thirds majority in both houses of the state Legislature, and the Republican minority is much more likely to vote against any bill that includes compensation increases in any amount for state employees.

Worksite Meetings Planned. Your CAPS Team and staff will be available in the coming weeks for meetings at various locations around the state. That schedule will be published shortly, and you are encouraged to attend one of them. Due to time and logistical constraints, a meeting may not be convenient to all members, but we will do the best we can.

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 you will receive a ratification ballot. You can join online here: http://capsscientists.org/contact/application/


Bargaining Update
May 16, 2014

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met yesterday and today with Governor Brown’s Unit 10 Bargaining Team.  No final agreement was reached.  Once again, the principal hang-up is salary.

CAPS Modifies Salary Position.  CAPS offered a compromise proposal.  CAPS proposed to accept a graduated plan to achieve salary parity over the course of a three-year agreement. The CAPS proposal would consist of a three-year contract ending in July 2016. It would include TWO salary equity increases, each amounting to two steps of salary (totaling approximately 20%) for all state scientists, PLUS the Governor’s proposed salary package:  2% general salary increase effective July 1, 2014, and 2.5% general salary increase effective July 1, 2015.

No Change In The State’s Salary Position.  The CalHR Team provided a written counter proposal confirming the same old salary offer:  4.5% over three years, starting with 2% of that July 1, 2014, and another 2.5% effective July 1, 2015.  The CAPS Team reiterated that the state’s salary offer won’t get a tentative agreement from the CAPS Bargaining Team.

A few other tentative agreements were reached involving matters important to state scientists but not resulting in salary equity, or in making sufficient gains towards it. For example, the state has tentatively agreed to modestly increase its contribution towards the healthcare of dependents for newly hired state scientists.  While this adjustment is long overdue, it doesn’t warrant an overall tentative agreement from CAPS.

Negotiations for a new MOU resume next Wednesday, May 21.


Bargaining Update
April 18, 2014

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met again this week with Governor Brown’s Unit 10 Bargaining Team. No full and final agreement was reached, but there was an in depth discussion of the salary needs of state scientists. And while the CalHR negotiator did not dispute the facts presented by the CAPS Team, she did not change Governor Brown’s offer: 4.5% over three years, likely starting with 2% of that July 1, 2014. A declaration by DOF Director Michael Cohen is likely to trigger the July 1, 2014 increase. Another 2.5% general salary increase is scheduled for July 1, 2015.

The CAPS Team reiterated that full and final agreement would not be possible unless and until the Governor makes a salary equity proposal to CAPS. CAPS also insisted that implementation of proposed classification changes include salary adjustments that will make state scientist positions competitive in the marketplace.

At the state team’s invitation, the joint salary survey methodology is being revisited. The CAPS Team welcomes this because the Brown Administration continues to ignore results from the current survey. The CAPS Team wants a salary survey that accurately measures the differential between the compensation of state scientists and counterparts in related jurisdictions, and produces consequences that closes any salary gap results.

Thanks to all CAPS members who have communicated the need for salary equity for ALL state scientists with Governor Brown, state lawmakers and departmental management. There is still time to write your own letter of support to Governor Brown: http://capsscientists.org/bargaining/salary-equity-now/

Bargaining is next scheduled for May 15 & 16.


Bargaining Update
February 10, 2014

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met Tuesday with Governor Brown’s Unit 10 Bargaining Team, and yesterday—Wednesday–with the new interim Director and Chief Deputy Director of the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR).

In summary, there wasn’t any improvement in the state’s salary offer.  There was agreement to continue several sections of the MOU that require little or no change in language.  These “rollover” sections will ensure that Unit 10 scientists can continue to telecommute where appropriate, have access to an out-of-class grievance procedure, receive night shift differential under certain conditions, and for CAPS to receive written notice before the work of state scientists is contracted out.

Once again, Governor Brown’s Bargaining Team offered nothing beyond the salary package to which most other state unions have agreed:  2% effective July 1, 2014 (assuming a financial “trigger” is satisfied); and a 2.5% general salary increase effective July 1, 2015.

The CAPS’ Bargaining Team emphasized the need for salary equity increases for ALL state scientists.  The CAPS Team reiterated that full and final agreement would not be possible unless and until the Governor makes a salary equity proposal to CAPS.

The CAPS Team on Wednesday met at length with CalHR Director Richard Gillihan and his new Chief Deputy Pam Manwiller. The CAPS Team reiterated its commitment to good faith bargaining, but insisted that Governor Brown must reciprocate with the same good faith approach to the bargaining process if full and final agreement is to be reached prior to July 2014.  Good faith means an improved salary offer, one that addresses salary equity increases for all state scientists.

The CAPS Bargaining Team remains cautiously optimistic that negotiations will result in an agreement that is worthy of review by the CAPS membership. Ratification of any new agreement requires a majority vote by CAPS members—and the state legislature.  There is still sufficient time to reach a satisfactory Memorandum of Understanding. The CAPS Team urges members to stay patient and optimistic and supportive of CAPS during this trying ordeal.

Thanks to all CAPS members who have communicated the need for salary equity for ALL state scientists with Governor Brown, state lawmakers and departmental management.

Bargaining is next scheduled for April 16 & 17.


Bargaining Update
February 10, 2014

Your CAPS Bargaining Team last Thursday and Friday with Governor Brown’s representatives from the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR), the Department of Finance and the state departments that employ most state scientists.

Once again, there was no improvement in the salary offer from the state. Rather, it remained exactly the same:  a 2% general salary increase effective July 1, 2014 in the event a financial “trigger” is met, plus a 2.5% general salary increase on July 1, 2015.

The CAPS position didn’t change either: 30%.  Once again, the CAPS Team took considerable time to reiterate its demand for salary equity. CAPS reviewed the salary survey done jointly by CAPS and CalHR, and the salary differential between state scientists and state engineers where they continue to work on multidisciplinary teams.  CAPS reviewed the dire financial straits the state budget was in for many years, and the substantial contributions state scientists made towards its recovery. With that recovery, CAPS must see salary equity restored for state scientists, as a matter of fairness and for the benefit of state scientific programs and the constituents they serve.

The CAPS Team told state negotiators not to expect an agreement from CAPS unless and until the salary needs of state scientists are met. CAPS reiterated that the bargaining process won’t be successful if there continues to be one low ball offer from state management, especially one that ignores the unique circumstances facing the state’s scientific workforce.

Promotional Issues.  Undue delays by the state in offering a statewide “consortium” exam have disadvantaged some Senior Environmental Scientists whose 24 month standing on the promotional list has expired. At CAPS’ request, the state’s team pledged to quickly review status of the Environmental Scientist promotional list, and communicate details to affected state scientists.

The CAPS Team is scheduled to meet next with state management on February 27 & 28.


Bargaining Update
January 21, 2014

Your CAPS Bargaining Team on Friday, January 17, 2014  reiterated its demand for full salary equity for ALL state scientists. There was still no final agreement reached with Governor Brown’s negotiators.  There was, however, a pointed discussion about how salary inequities adversely affect the state’s ability to recruit and retain qualified scientists.  CAPS again pointed out the negative impact of the wide salary gap many state scientists have with state engineers when the work is comparable.  The CAPS Team insisted that salary equity must be realized before any final agreement is reached.

The Governor’s Team listened politely but didn’t modify its last offer on salaries:  a 2% general salary increase effective July 1, 2014 in the event a financial “trigger” is met, plus a 2.5% general salary increase on July 1, 2015.

CAPS made a new proposal for increasing opportunities for state scientists who wish to attend professional seminars and conferences. CAPS proposed that every state scientist be entitled to attend up to three professional development opportunities annually. Such requests would require a prompt written response and could not be unreasonably denied. The state took the proposal under review.

CalHR also proposed to modify the joint salary survey it conducts with CAPS. While CAPS has no objection to refining and improving the tool used for this salary survey, CAPS again demanded that something be DONE about the wide salary gaps that result from doing the survey. After all, why continue to do salary surveys that show substantial inequities when they aren’t corrected?

For Range C Environmental Scientists at the top step (Bachelor’s degree), the survey shows a salary lag of 32.9%.   

For Range B Associate Toxicologist level staff (Master’s degree), the survey shows a lag at top step of 40.3%.  

For Staff Toxicologists (Ph.D) at top step the lag is 30.7%.

See the survey summary here:  Salary Survey Results

For scientists working closely with state engineers, where there was once salary equity, there is now a substantial disparity. That differential can be viewed graphically here: Salary Survey Results

Write Governor Brown!  You can support the CAPS Team by making sure you are a FULL CAPS member—not just a fee payer—and WRITE THE GOVERNOR in support of salary equity for all state scientists. If the deduction on your pay stub says “FS” then you are not a full CAPS member.  Please apply online here: Join CAPS

The CAPS Team is scheduled to meet next with state management on February 6 & 7.


Bargaining Update
December 18, 2013

Yesterday’s bargaining session with Governor Brown’s negotiators from CalHR did not produce a final agreement. It was, however, a lengthy session where the need for SALARY EQUITY increases for ALL state scientists was stressed by the CAPS Bargaining Team.

The Governor’s Team, conversely, reiterated its same tired offer on salaries:  a 2% general salary increase effective July 1, 2014 in the event a financial “trigger” is met, plus a 2.5% general salary increase on July 1, 2015.  In the event the July 1, 2015 financial “trigger” isn’t met, according to a unilateral determination by the director of the Department of Finance, then the entire 4.5% general salary increase is effective July 1, 2015.

CAPS presented details of its latest salary survey. Not surprisingly, most salary lags have widened since they were last measured one year ago. For Range C Environmental Scientists (Bachelor’s degree) at the top step, the salary lag is 32.9%; for Range B Associate Toxicologist (Master’s degree) level staff, the lag at top step is 40.3%; and for Staff Toxicologists (Ph.D) at top step the lag is 30.7%. See that survey summary here:  Salary Survey Results

CAPS likewise reviewed the salary differential between scientists and state engineers. Where there was once salary equity, there is now a substantial disparity. See the video presentation made by working state scientists here: State Scientists Support CAPS Bargaining Team 

CAPS also reviewed the November 2013 financial forecast from Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor. It projects “Under current policies, $5.6 billion projected reserve at the end of 2014 – 15…future operating surpluses are projected…and healthy local property tax growth is important for state finances.” See that report here: http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2013/bud/fiscal-outlook/fiscal-outlook-112013.aspx

The CAPS Team stressed the importance of reaching a satisfactory agreement at the earliest opportunity, one that provides increases in travel reimbursements and protects against pay or benefit reductions. That agreement, however, must provide salary equity.

The CAPS Team also reached tentative agreement to continue, or “rollover,” several contract provisions that have proven important to state scientists over the years, including annual leave, mentoring leave, voluntary personal leave and sick leave, among others.

The CAPS Team reviewed in detail the importance of state support for professional development, both with memberships in professional societies and for time and expense reimbursement for professional meetings. CAPS provided a copy of the current list of professional societies to every member of the state’s bargaining team. See it here: Scientific Registrations and Certifications  

The CAPS Team is scheduled to meet next with state management on January 17.


Bargaining Update
November 22, 2013

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with state management negotiators Wednesday and Thursday of this week. There was no full and final agreement to these negotiations because there has been no movement by management on salaries. The Brown Administration is maintaining its offer of a 4.5% salary increase for state scientists over three years, consistent with the basic agreement reached in most other state bargaining units. Your CAPS Bargaining Team pointed out that in order to reach an agreement, there must be significant progress towards erasing the substantial salary gap that exists between state scientists and their counterparts both within state government and with other governmental jurisdictions. The CAPS Team referenced the report from the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst this week that notes an estimated $5.6 billion state surplus:  http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2013/bud/fiscal-outlook/fiscal-outlook-112013.pdf

CAPS also pointed out the recent salary survey performed by the California Department of Human Resources which found a salary gap of approximately of 16% to 40% for State Scientists. These results confirm an earlier Survey. See the Cal HR survey on the CAPS webpage: Salary Survey Results.

The CAPS Team again reiterated its demand that such surveys need ACTION to see the salary gaps narrowed and ultimately eliminated.

There was a host of other issues discussed. Among these were the special circumstances and potential hazards of having an increasing number of scientists involved in the review and mitigation of the serious environmental damage caused by the proliferation of unlicensed marijuana cultivation throughout California. The CAPS Bargaining Team wants to ensure that State Scientists involved in this work are properly equipped and compensated for this unusual and potentially hazardous work.

The CAPS Team also continues to press for an increase in the amount scientists are reimbursed for membership in professional societies, and greater flexibility for those who wish to attend scientific conferences to further their professional development. CAPS provided state management with a partial list of professional societies to which State Scientists often belong. Please feel free to review this list and point out any additions that should be made: Scientific Registrations and Certifications.

The CAPS Team is scheduled to meet next with state management on December 17. 

Reed’s Retirment “Reform.” Here is a summary of the latest initiative submitted for title and summary to the state Attorney General by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed. Upon issuance of title and summary, Mayor Reed will have a very limited time period during which to collect the signatures necessary to place this measure on the November 2014 ballot. CAPS and other labor groups are geared up to vigorously oppose any such effort. Nevertheless, this proposal:

  • Repeals vested rights of public employees and allows government employers to cut, change or eliminate retirement benefits and/or retiree healthcare benefits of current employees on a prospective basis.
  • Removes PERB authority and jurisdiction over all retirement and retiree healthcare issues covered under this Act. Provides that the courts shall have exclusive jurisdiction of retirement and retiree health care matters covered under the Act.
  • Provides that labor agreements executed within 12 months before the effective date of this Act that are inconsistent with the Act shall be deemed invalid.
  • Provides for a rebuttable presumption that any labor agreement renewed or extended more than 6 months before its expiration date, during the 12 month period before the effective date of this Act, was entered into for the purpose of violating the Act. Thus, it will be deemed invalid.
  • Provides new powers to any government employer that finds its pension or retiree health care plan is substantially underfunded, and is at risk of not having sufficient funds to pay benefits to retiree or future retirees, or declares a fiscal emergency because the financial condition impairs the ability to provide essential government services or to protect the vital interests of the community.  Under these conditions, it will have the authority to implement one or more of the following actions:
  • Reduce the future accrual rate of pension or retiree healthcare benefits.
  • Reduce the future rate of cost-of-living adjustments for pension or retiree healthcare benefits.
  • Increase the retirement age for payment of future pension or retiree healthcare benefits.
  • Require employees to pay a larger share of the cost of pension or retiree healthcare benefits.

Other modifications of pension or retiree healthcare benefits agreed to in collective bargaining.


Bargaining Update
October 17, 2013

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with CalHR Tuesday and Wednesday.  Several tentative agreements were reached, but not on the BIG one: salaries.  CalHR is sticking to the low-ball offer it made to CAPS previously: 4.5% effective July 1, 2015, with the possibility that 2% of that would be effective next July if certain revenue benchmarks are reached, and the Governor achieves what he believes is a “prudent” reserve.  The CAPS Team again rejected this offer as insufficient.

One of the tentative agreements reached would allow state departments to cash out up to 20 hours of accrued vacation or annual leave annually based on availability of funds in that department.  This and all tentative agreements would be effective only upon ratification of an overall agreement.

In the absence of a new MOU, the state’s contribution towards the CalPERS retirement for state scientists will continue uninterrupted. In fact, the amount that the state provides to scientists for health benefits will increase next January based on a statutory – based formula. This was negotiated in years past to help ensure that CAPS can’t be pressured into accepting a poor labor contract in order to sustain affordable health benefits.  Meanwhile, state management refuses to extend to state scientists the increased reimbursement rates for meals and lodging. These have already been provided to state employees where a new labor contract is in place. A grievance arbitration over this dispute is now set for early January. In the meantime, CAPS urges its members to minimize travel, and to keep track of out-of-pocket travel costs related to state business.

The next meeting of the teams is scheduled for November 20 and 21.


Bargaining Update
September 11, 2013

Salary Equity NOW!  Your CAPS Bargaining Team has remained poised and ready to complete negotiations for a new Memorandum of Understanding. Unfortunately, Governor Brown’s negotiators haven’t budged one cent.  His offer: just 4.5% for a three year contract. Consequently, rank-and-file state scientists will continue to work under the terms of the existing MOU. (Incidentally, two other bargaining units – – Attorneys in Unit 2 and Operating Engineers in Unit 13 – – don’t have a new MOU either.)

Virtually everything regarding pay and benefits for rank-and-file state scientists will remain the same, except that CalHR is denying state scientists the modest increases for meals and lodging.  These have been afforded other state employee bargaining units where agreement has been reached, and to supervisors and managers. See a summary of those reimbursement increases here: http://www.calhr.ca.gov/PML%20Library/2013026.pdf

CAPS has filed a grievance to extend these more generous reimbursement rates to all state scientists. In fact, we believe the language in our current MOU entitles ALL state scientists to these new rates. The meal reimbursement rates are just a few dollars more. But for lodging, the difference could be substantial.  The current reimbursement rate of $84 per night remains in effect for Unit 10.  The new lodging reimbursement for most other state employees is between $90 and $150 per night. This could force you to make a considerable out-of-pocket expense in order to do the state’s work.

BEFORE YOU TRAVEL on state business, review where you are staying and try not to be put in this position. This could mean avoiding the travel altogether, or staying at a more affordable location—if possible. In any event, please document your experience and provide it to CAPS: 

Identify and Solicit Influential Stakeholders.  CAPS will continue to bargain in good faith during the coming months.  You can help keep the pressure on Governor Brown by urging your departmental management to support salary equity for state scientists.  You can also help identify stakeholders that could be influential in supporting salary equity for state scientists.  Take, for example, the letter written on your behalf by our good friends at PEER: PEER Supports Salary Equity for State Scientists 

Let us know which stakeholders YOU think will support state scientists in our quest for salary equity:

As always, you too can write a personalized letter to Governor Brown: Legislative Alert.


Bargaining Update
August 27, 2013

Your CAPS Bargaining Team hasn’t budged. Salary Equity NOW!

Governor Brown’s negotiating team, led by his appointed negotiators at CalHR, hasn’t modified its salary offer to CAPS. So there hasn’t been a bargaining session since the Teams last met on August 14. This makes it virtually certain that there won’t be a new labor agreement in place before the start of the next calendar year, 2014. A new labor agreement between CAPS and CalHR must be ratified by the state Legislature before it becomes effective.

CAPS is one of several state employee representatives that does not have a new labor agreement – – memorandum of understanding – – in place prior to the departure of the legislature. State scientists will continue to work under the provisions of the expired MOU. Nothing will change with your pay or benefits. In fact, full paychecks were already restored after unpaid furloughs ended last June. Scientists at the top step of their salary range received a 3% salary increase effective July 1. CAPS is addressing the needs of those few who were mistakenly denied that increase.

CAPS last met with CalHR on August 14. The state’s team had nothing more substantive to offer state scientists than the three year, 4.5% pay package agreed to by SEIU and a few other unions. The CAPS Team told CalHR that it would consider an agreement only if there is a substantial increase in its salary offer. That offer never came.

During the August 14 bargaining session, your CAPS Team questioned management regarding a special pay package extended to thousands of rank-and-file DMV employees effective July 2. The CAPS Team said that if Governor Brown can offer an IMMEDIATE 7.5% special inequity wage increase for DMV employees, then he should act to rectify the salary inequity for state scientists.

See the DMV special salary increases here.

CAPS will continue to bargain in good faith during the coming months. YOU can help keep the pressure on Governor Brown until he gets serious about reaching an agreement that includes salary equity for ALL state scientists. YOU can write a letter to Governor Brown here.

You can urge your departmental management to support salary equity for state scientists, and you can identify stakeholders who can prove influential in supporting salary equity for state scientists. Let us know which stakeholders you think will support state scientists in our quest for salary equity: 


Bargaining Update
August 15, 2013

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with CalHR again yesterday. The state’s team had nothing more substantive to offer state scientists, just the 4.5% pay package to which SEIU and a few other unions have agreed. The CAPS Team told CalHR that it will consider an agreement only if a serious salary offer is made. Thus, the next scheduled meeting date, August 23, was cancelled.

Your CAPS Team questioned management regarding a special pay package extended to thousands of rank-and-file DMV employees effective July 2. The CAPS Team said that if Governor Brown can agree to an IMMEDIATE 7.5% special inequity wage increase for DMV employees, then he certainly can rectify the salary inequity for state scientists.

See the DMV special salary increases here.

During the course of this discussion, CalHR said that any portion of an MOU that results in additional costs to the state, would be “scored” against the 4.5% salary package it had previously offered CAPS for all state scientists. This means that the cost for just about anything, such as safety footwear for scientists required to wear safety boots while doing fieldwork, would reduce the wage increase proportionally for other state scientists not required to wear safety footwear. The CAPS Team flatly rejected this approach and rationale.

The state legislature must ratify any new labor agreement for it to become effective. It adjourns for the year on September 13, so time is short for an agreement to be ratified, even if common ground is found. In the absence of the new agreement, state scientists will continue to work under the terms of the now expired MOU. Nothing will change with your pay or benefits. In fact, full paychecks were already restored after unpaid furloughs ended in June. Scientists at the top step of their salary range received a 3% salary increase. CAPS is addressing the needs of those few who were mistakenly denied that increase.

The state’s contribution towards the CalPERS retirement for state scientists will continue uninterrupted. This ensures that CAPS won’t be pressured into accepting a poor labor contract in order to protect retirement benefits.

More unpaid furloughs can’t be imposed on state scientists without legislative approval, and that is highly unlikely.

CAPS will continue to bargain in good faith during the coming months. CAPS will also work hard–with your help–to keep the pressure on Governor Brown until he gets serious about reaching an agreement that includes salary equity for ALL state scientists.


Bargaining Update
August 7, 2013

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met again earlier today with state management. CalHR acknowledged salary lags of between 16% and 40% for rank-and-file state scientist classifications. That is in accordance with the salary survey required by the Memorandum of Understanding, Section 17.3. The CalHR team, however, offered no salary proposal to close the gap at any level, beyond the proposal it has already made: a 4.5% general salary increase over three years. CAPS insisted that the salary survey is meaningful ONLY if something is done about it. That means closing the salary gap with a substantial salary offer. Today, CalHR did not have one. CAPS urged the CalHR team to seek authority from the Governor to address this salary inequity with the funds necessary to close the salary gap. CAPS is proposing a wage increase of 30% over the three-year term.

CAPS also reiterated its previous proposal for a 10% salary differential for employees working in 14 high-cost counties throughout the state, increasing reimbursement for professional society dues from $100 to $500 annually, extending an existing incentive program to cover scientists working for the Department of Water Resources, and improving an incentive program for scientists working in after-hours emergency response. CalHR is considering these proposals. The next bargaining session is scheduled for August 14.


Bargaining Update
July 26, 2013

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with Governor Brown’s negotiators again yesterday.

CAPS reiterated the need for salary equity.  Your CAPS Team:

  • Pointed out the recent agreement between CalHR and another state union that includes immediate salary increases of over 30% for DWR water delivery operations staff. The same offer must be made for state scientists!
  • Produced a dozen RECENT job announcements from federal and local government agencies in California for scientific jobs paying far more than the state of California.
  • Produced several studies from state agencies and related organizations that underscore the need for the state to produce sound science and to support scientific staff.
  • Emphasized the serious recruitment and retention problem that low salaries are causing state scientific programs.
  • Reiterated that the current offer from CalHR—a 4.5% salary increase over three years—is totally inadequate and is unacceptable.

The Governor’s Bargaining Team took all this under submission but made no counter proposal on salary.

The CAPS Team noted the grievance CAPS filed recently regarding increases in the travel expense reimbursements for other bargaining units but not for state scientists. In spite of the fact that there is no new contract in place for CAPS, certain language in the expired agreement continues.  Section 20.4(A) entitles state scientists to the increased meal and lodging reimbursement rates negotiated by any other bargaining unit, in CAPS view.

CAPS did reach agreement with Cal HR to rollover (continue unchanged) several sections of the current CAPS MOU.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Wednesday, August 7.

You can see a short video summarizing the CAPS position on salaries here:  State Scientists Support CAPS Bargaining Team


Bargaining Update
July 3, 2013

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with Governor Brown’s negotiators again yesterday.

CAPS made a counter proposal regarding salaries.  It was for a 10% salary increase for ALL state scientists effective July 1, 2014, and another 20% for ALL state scientists effective July 1, 2015. This proposal meets the Governor’s need for a cost neutral contract this fiscal year, but backloads increases to meet the salary equity needs for all state scientists. The Governor’s Bargaining Team took the proposal with no comment. No agreements were reached.

Last week, the Governor’s Bargaining Team finally made a salary offer to CAPS. It was virtually the same offer agreed to by SEIU Local 1000: a 4.5% general salary increase effective no later than July 1, 2015, plus modest increases to the state’s travel reimbursement amounts for meals and lodging. The Governor’s Team said there might be an option for 2% of the general salary increase to be effective on July 1, 2014, but only with the approval of the director of the Department of Finance.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Thursday, July 25.

You can see a short video summarizing the CAPS position on salaries here: State Scientists Support CAPS Bargaining Team

 


Bargaining Update
June 27, 2013

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with Governor Brown’s negotiators again yesterday.

The key point of discussion was salaries. The Governor’s Bargaining Team finally made a salary offer to CAPS. It was virtually the same offer agreed to by SEIU Local 1000: a 4.5% general salary increase effective no later than July 1, 2015, plus modest increases to the state’s travel reimbursement amounts for meals and lodging. The Governor’s Team said there might be an option for 2% of the general salary increase to be effective on July 1, 2014, but only with the approval of the director of the Department of Finance.

The CAPS Team flatly rejected this proposal, and insisted that a new collective bargaining agreement must provide funding to achieve salary equity.

The next bargaining session is scheduled for Tuesday, July 2. Your CAPS Bargaining Team is determined to negotiate an agreement that meets the salary needs of ALL state scientists.

You can see a short video summarizing the CAPS position on salaries here:  State Scientists Support CAPS Bargaining Team


Bargaining Update
June 21, 2013

The CAPS Bargaining Team met with state management again yesterday in its effort to reach agreement on a new memorandum of understanding that includes salary equity for ALL state scientists.

But the state’s Bargaining Team made no money offer. Instead, it made proposals that would simplify the description of recent pension changes, and to continue several provisions of the current contract unchanged.  CAPS reiterated its expectation that this Memorandum of Understanding must address the wide salary gap faced by all state scientists. Bargaining resumes again next Wednesday, June 26.

Watch State Scientists In CAPS Bargaining. Two presentations made during last week’s bargaining session support the CAPS bargaining effort. Watch an introduction from CAPS Bargaining Chair Patty Velez and Vice Chair David Miller. Then watch a presentation by three Environmental Scientists focusing on the Like Pay for Like Work issue, and another by two Public Health Microbiologists from the Richmond campus.  Extended versions of both presentations can be viewed by going to the bottom of the page.  Because these videos are via YouTube, please view them from a personal, not a state owned, computer.

Find those presentations here:   State Scientists Support CAPS Bargaining Team


Bargaining Update
June 13, 2013

The CAPS Bargaining Team met again yesterday with state negotiators for a new collective bargaining agreement. No agreements were reached.

Two separate CAPS presentations were made by career state scientists. They underscored the salary needs of all state scientists.

The state’s bargaining team made no salary offer.  When pressed by CAPS, the state’s chief negotiator acknowledged that they will have one, and it won’t be “revenue neutral.” She promised proposals for more pension and health care “reform.”  These are expected at the next bargaining session: Thursday, June 20.

A group of Environmental Scientists pointed out the serious problems resulting from the salary differential between state scientists and state engineers who work together– often interchangeably. While there once was salary equivalency, state scientists’ salaries now lag far behind.

The scientists making this presentation, two from the Water Resources Control Board (Environmental Scientists Jeremiah Puget from Santa Rosa and Jon Marshack from Sacramento), and one from the Department of Toxic Substances Control (Hazardous Substances Scientist David Rist from Berkeley), discussed the difficulty of living on a stagnant state wage.  For younger scientists, the challenge is working for state government when there are better paying jobs available elsewhere.

The second presentation was from two Public Health Microbiologists working at the Richmond campus, a high level state facility located just a few miles from downtown San Francisco. It highlighted the important work of the scientists, and the impact of low salaries, especially when living and working in a high-cost urban area. Both are compelling presentations and will be made available to you and ALL scientists for viewing shortly.

CAPS position for a wage increase remains firm:  30% for ALL state scientists effective January 1, 2014.

The CAPS Bargaining Team is aware of the agreement reached between Governor Brown and SEIU Local 1000.  That three year agreement reportedly provides for a 4.5% across-the-board wage increase effective no later than July 1, 2015. This compensation increase won’t make the state significantly more competitive with other employers for scientific talent.  Nor does it restore lost purchasing power.

At last week’s meeting, CAPS backed up its salary proposal with detailed salary information. A salary survey jointly agreed to by both Cal HR and CAPS in the current MOU (Section 17.3) shows a salary lag of between 26% and 37% for three state scientific classifications that are representative of most state scientists.

For scientists working closely with state engineers, the salary differential is comparable, between 29% and 33%. See those representative comparisons here:

Department of Water Resources

Department of Toxic Substances Control

State Water Resources Control Board


Bargaining Begins
May 2013

On May 20, 2013, the CAPS Bargaining Team met for the first time this year with Governor Brown’s representatives at the bargaining table.  This was the first of what will be several bargaining sessions. CAPS goal is to reach a tentative agreement that fully meets the salary needs of state scientists, and protects the retirement, health and other benefits CAPS has fought long and hard to build. This meeting involved preliminary topics, such as introductions and ground rules for future talks. Nevertheless, your CAPS Bargaining Team emphasized the need for immediate salary increases for state scientists. CAPS reviewed the years of mandatory unpaid furloughs, increased contributions made by state scientists towards retirement, and the other substantial sacrifices made by scientists during the long period of budget deficits. Now that the state has achieved a budget surplus, the CAPS Team made it clear that it expects state scientists’ salary needs to be addressed immediately.

The state’s bargaining team listened politely, but no agreements were reached. On the state’s team is a chief negotiator from the California Department of Human Resources (Cal HR), a representative from the Department of Finance, and representatives– typically labor relations officers – –from most of the state departments that employ state scientists.  The CAPS Team is led by Chairperson Patty Velez, Staff Environmental Scientist with the Department of Fish and Wildlife in Monterey, Senior Hazardous Substances Scientist David Miller of the DTSC in Sacramento, Staff Land and Water Use Scientist Marty Berbach of DWR in Sacramento, Staff Environmental Scientist Margarita Gordus of DFW in Fresno and Environmental Scientist Ryanne Mason of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento. Assisting the CAPS Team are experienced staff negotiators Chris Voight and Kristen Haynie.

CAPS will next meet with Cal HR on Wednesday May 29. At that and future meetings the CAPS Bargaining Team will present and discuss specific proposals on behalf of the CAPS membership.  These will include proposals for a sizable cost-of-living adjustment to restore lost purchasing power, additional salary adjustments to close the gap with state engineering classes and comparable jobs in the public and private sector. CAPS will address in detail other important needs of state scientists, including increases to the state’s travel reimbursement amounts, increasing opportunities for professional development, and addressing flexible schedules and work rules. The CAPS proposals are based on input via the CAPS bargaining survey and the worksite meetings that are ongoing throughout the state. Expert witnesses from the CAPS membership will make presentations detailing the needs of state scientists in a variety of areas.

Any tentative agreements reached by CAPS must be ratified by both the caps membership and the state legislature. The CAPS Bargaining Team resolved to reach agreement ONLY if it is likely to meet with strong approval from the CAPS membership.