Bargaining Updates

June 15, 2021

Bargaining Team Met. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR last week to continue the Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) Process, focusing this time on the CAPS Team’s top priority – State Scientists’ Salaries – with a third-party facilitator. 

Story. Both Teams reviewed the most important elements of the “story” behind why Unit 10 salaries must be brought in line with Government Code 19826 “that like salaries shall be paid for comparable duties and responsibilities” and the State’s own description of how employees should be paid, now. The CAPS Team recounted again the major break in the historically equitable relationship between State Scientists’ and State Engineers’ salaries that existed prior to 2005; and the wide gap that developed between Unit 10’s rank-and-file salaries and management when, in 2014, salaries for some State Scientist Supervisors were adjusted to provide comparable compensation to their State Engineering supervisor peers. The CAPS Team also noted that since 2014, the State has made no effort to correct the vertical relationship between rank-and-file State Scientists and their supervisors or the horizontal relationship that once existed with State Engineers. 

While identifying the salient story points, the CAPS Team noted, once again, the unfortunate and very difficult position both sides are in now due to previous administrations’ inaction. However, IBB is allowing for the long-needed, extended, in-depth discussions about the Unit 10 salary issues that could finally lead to a solution.

Interests. The Teams also went through an exercise to evaluate and identify each team’s most important interests. Surprisingly, the State’s list did not include the State’s fiscal situation, a topic that had featured prominently in discussions before the Administration issued its revised budget proposal in May.

Options. The Teams then began the challenging process of narrowing down salary options. The process requires each option to be evaluated through the lens of what each parties’ constituents would be able to accept should any of the options move forward. This is the first of what will likely be a multi-step evaluation process to reach a formal agreement. Both Teams identified options that could be mutually acceptable, such as special salary adjustments, agreeing on comparable classes to establish new salary ranges, and addressing recruitment and retention issues. While options were identified that could be mutually acceptable, in the IBB process there is no commitment until both parties make a formal agreement. This allows the Teams to have in depth discussions and explore different options that can be further evaluated without fear that either Team will assume commitment. Unfortunately, as with past bargaining sessions, the CAPS Team has still not heard that the State agrees that there are salary lags within Unit 10 to be remedied, and the State is concerned that the percentages the CAPS Team has presented are large and unlikely to be achieved all at once.

Notably, the State’s Team did not reiterate earlier claims about the State facing dire financial circumstances over the next few years. However, they did reference the State’s need to continue cautiously with future fiscal considerations and budgetary commitments because economic forecasts predict less prosperous years ahead.

Members Loud and Clear. The CAPS Bargaining Team passed four more member letters to CalHR, again detailing the need for State Scientists to be treated equitably. The first letter was written and signed by many members from various departments. It described how the State’s treatment of State Scientists reveals an implicit bias, and asks why the State values rank-and-file scientists less than their engineering and supervisory counterparts. The second letter, from Veterinarians at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), discussed the imperative need to restore the historical value of State Veterinarians, as recruiting and retaining the expertise required in that field has become more and more difficult due to the low salaries provided by the State. Next, a member at the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) Site Mitigation Cleanup Program discussed how their working title, Project Manager, would often result in them inheriting projects from other State Scientists and Engineers – without any change to their duties. And yet, they are paid less than their engineering counterparts. Finally, the CAPS Team shared a letter from an Environmental Scientist at the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) who discussed the high cost of living in the Sacramento area. The member shared that the comparable Sacramento County position, Environmental Specialist, earns 37% more at entry level.

Proposals Passed. The CAPS Team also passed proposals regarding Premium Pay and Emergency Pay in the traditional positional bargaining process for the State’s consideration. 

Thank you for all your support. The CAPS Team values all members’ input and support during this often arduous process and hopes you will continue sharing your thoughts. Please continue sending letters detailing your state-pay experience. CalHR is following up on them and is listening! Your voices are helping CAPS get our message across: This pay issue must be fixed for California’s agencies to continue fulfilling their missions and place the appropriate value on science and scientists. Learn more about how to submit letters and read other members’ letters here.

Sincerely, 

The CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

June 11, 2021

Agreement Reached on COVID-19 PLP Side Letter. Your CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) and the State of California reached an agreement to end the 2020 Personal Leave Program (PLP) and to restore the deferred 5% General Salary Increase (GSI) originally scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2020. 

Compensation. Effective July 1, 2021, the 9.23% reductions to State Scientists’ gross salaries will end, returning salaries to the full amount listed in the State’s pay scales as of June 2020. In addition to returning to full pay, on July 1, 2021, all rank-and-file Unit 10 scientists will receive the deferred 5.0% GSI along with a newly negotiated 2.5% GSI, and an additional increase of 0.13% due to compounding two separate GSIs, for a total increase in pay of 7.63%. As a result, State Scientists’ gross pay will increase by 16.86% between June 2021 and July 2021, but take home pay will differ, based on each individual’s deductions. Please note that these increases are related to the Covid-19 PLP Side Letter: CAPS is still in the process of bargaining for a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

Other Side Letter Details. 

OPEB/CERBT. In addition to the negotiated pay increases, the agreement restarts the employee’s OPEB contribution, which pre-funds post-retirement healthcare. In July 2020, the employee’s share was temporarily suspended as part of the COVID-19 PLP Side Letter Agreement. In June 2020, State Scientists were contributing 2.8% of pay. Starting July 1, 2021, State Scientists will contribute only 2.1%. The deduction is listed as “CERBT” on your pay warrant.

Retirement Contributions Continue at Lower Rates. When the CAPS Team negotiated the initial COVID-19 PLP Side Letter Agreement, they ensured State Scientists’ retirement contribution for members’ pensions decreased by 0.5% a year earlier than previously planned. That reduction continues under this new agreement (e.g., 8% of pay for Miscellaneous CalPERS members, instead of 8.5%).

Leave Cap Increase Remains Until 2025. The CAPS Team further ensured that the increases to the Vacation/Annual Leave Cap will remain as previously agreed-to. This means that the Vacation/Annual Leave Cap will remain at 832 hours until 2025, due to the 192 PLP hours received during the past year. 

PLP 2020 Hours Do Not Expire. While the COVID-19 PLP Side Letter Agreement was silent on whether PLP 2020 hours could expire, the new agreement ensures Unit 10 Scientists’ PLP 2020 hours never expire, until used. 

Allows Changes to VPLP Participation. The 2018-2020 MOU, still in effect due to the “Evergreen Clause” in the Dill’s Act, allows members to make modifications to their participation in the Voluntary Personal Leave Program (VPLP) quarterly. The CAPS Team negotiated provisions that allows opting in or out of the program any time within the first three months after the new agreement goes into effect. That gives members until November 1, 2021 to modify their participation (including starting or stopping) in the VPLP, before returning to a quarterly schedule. 

CAPS Proposed Retroactivity. The CAPS Team proposed multiple other ways to resolve ending PLP 2020 that the State ultimately would not agree to, including vigorously and repeatedly advocating for the retroactive restoration of CAPS members’ deferred 5% GSI to July 1, 2020; “me too” clauses that would have ensured that should any other bargaining unit achieve a higher GSI than CAPS, the State would match it; and enacting the 5% GSI “on the books” on July 1, 2020, but not realizing the raise in members’ paychecks until 2021. Ultimately, the State insisted that they did not want to include language that would be non-operational — another way to say that they will not contemplate retroactivity for any bargaining unit. 

When does it go into effect? This agreement amends the COVID-19 PLP Side Letter, but is not a full and final Tentative Agreement for a new successor MOU. Side Letters do not require a ratification vote of the membership and are considered “ratified” once signed by both parties. The terms of the new agreement go into effect “the pay period following ratification of the agreement by both parties.” CAPS and the State agreed to the Side Letter terms on June 9, 2021. Assuming the State Legislature passes a budget that includes funding for this new Side Letter Agreement, and the Governor signs the budget on time, these changes will be effective July 1, 2021. 

What’s Next? The CAPS Team will continue bargaining for a successor MOU and immediately meet with the State’s team to continue our Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) sessions with the assistance of a third-party facilitator. The CAPS Team will send a bargaining update to the membership next week.

Thanks for Your Support. It’s Not Over Yet! The CAPS Team wants to sincerely thank the membership for its support throughout this round of bargaining and to assure you that negotiations for a successor MOU to address the necessary increases to State Scientists pay are still underway. Please continue sending letters detailing your experience with regard to the rate of pay you receive. CalHR is following up on them and is listening! Learn more about how to submit letters and read other members’ letters here: https://capsscientists.org/support-bargaining/.

Sincerely, 

The CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

June 2, 2021

PLP 2020 Side Letter Agreement Bargaining Begins. Your CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR last week to discuss ending the Personal Leave Program (PLP) 2020 and reinstating the postponed General Salary Increase (GSI) that would have gone into effect on July 1, 2020. 

Member Letters and Past Petitions Shared. The CAPS Team kicked off the meeting by sharing more letters from members in support of CAPS’ bargaining efforts. One letter was from a Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) at the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) who stated they are following bargaining closely and concluded that the State’s predicted financial downturns appear to be an excuse the Administration will use to deny State Scientist raises, even after those predictions have proven to be incorrect. The member calls on CalHR and the Department of Finance (DOF) to not rely on predictions that have been proven inaccurate and instead to provide State Scientists with long overdue salary adjustments. A second letter, from a member at the Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) in the Solid Waste Enforcement Section, describes how they do similar work and have the same education level of their engineer colleagues, yet they get paid substantially less. The member is also a new parent and experiencing a financial hardship due to the pay cuts. As a result, they are consiering quitting their state career since it is becoming financially unsustainable to work as a State Scientist. A final letter was shared from a member at the San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board who emphasized that the pay inequities have caused enormous financial hardships. The member also asserts that the State has sufficient funds to resolve State Scientist salary inequities, and points to CalHR’s responsibility to maintain horizontal and vertical salary relationships. You can read these and past member letters, and find out how to submit your own, here

The CAPS Team also shared some previously submitted member communications with CalHR that included petitions and letters surrounding the pay issue from past bargaining rounds. You can view those here (Petitions: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). 

May Revise Questions Abound. The CAPS Team again pressed CalHR and the Department of Finance (DOF) for more information on the May Revise budget. The CAPS Team again questioned why the Governor waited until after the May Revise was released to call bargaining units back to the table, despite news reports as far back as January 2021 that there would be sufficient funds to end PLP 2020 and restore deferred raises. In response, the DOF representative noted that there were still a lot of unknowns at that time and there was a need to verify the amounts of incoming revenues which can only happen after Tax Day. The DOF representative further explained that those calculations and verifications take time and could not be completed by the end of April. 

COVID-19 PLP Side Letter. CalHR passed counter-proposals surrounding the COVID-19 PLP 2020 Side Letter in response to CAPS’ side letter proposals passed back in April 2021. You’ll recall that CAPS’ proposals contemplated ending PLP 2020 effective with the May pay period, and funding the 5% GSI retroactively to July 1, 2020. The CAPS Team took the Administration’s counter-proposals under consideration for review. Per the May Revise, the Administration is amenable to ending PLP 2020 and funding the deferred 5% raise. However, the Administration expressed an unwillingness at this point to provide any retroactive pay as CAPS had proposed, due in part to technical limitations of the State’s financial process. All Management proposals passed in a positional setting are confidential, and are not posted. The CAPS Team will meet next week with CalHR to continue bargaining on the COVID-19 PLP Side Letter. Please note, that a full tentative agreement on a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is not needed to have an agreement on a side letter to the current MOU. This means that should CAPS and CalHR come to an agreement on a side letter, the provisions and effective date of the side letter is not dependent on a successor MOU.

Successor MOU Discussions Continue. The CAPS Team has not stopped bargaining for a successor agreement, just because the Governor wants to focus on the PLP 2020 Side Letters. Your CAPS Team is continuing discussions over the successor MOU next week. 

Thank you for all your support. The CAPS Team values all members’ input and support during this often arduous process, and hopes you will continue sharing your thoughts. Your letters are having an impact in painting the picture for CalHR and the Administration that restoring pay equity in Unit 10 salaries is crucial. Please keep sending your letters. We’ve received many letters from Environmental Scientists at DTSC that clearly outline the issues the pay issue is causing, so letters from members representing other departments and classifications would be greatly appreciated. Your voices are helping CAPS get our message across: This pay issue must be fixed for California’s agencies to continue fulfilling their missions, and place the appropriate value on science and scientists. View examples of other members’ letters, and find out how to submit your own, here.

Sincerely, 

The CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

May 12, 2021

Bargaining Teams Met. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met twice with CalHR’s Team last week to continue discussing the topic of Alternate Range Criteria (AR) 40 using the Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) approach with a specialized IBB facilitator.  

Member Letters. The CAPS Team shared the most recently received letters from members, including one from a member who serves as a Project Manager in the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) Site Mitigation and Restoration program. The department assigned the member the Project Manager duties of a coworker who recently retired from an Engineering Geologist position while expecting the State Scientist to pick up the same responsibilities for less pay than their predecessor. Next, the CAPS Team shared a letter from several members at DTSC, State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQB), asking CalHR their own questions, and assuring CalHR of what the CAPS Team has been telling them all along: CAPS members are following the bargaining process very closely. The final letter shared with CalHR this week was a well-researched, cited document on the many merits of telework for employees, employers, and the environment. You can read these and other member letters, and find out how to submit your own, here

CalHR Passed Proposals, Tentatively Agreed to Two. This week the CalHR Team asked questions about previous CAPS proposals and passed some of their own. Additionally, CalHR Tentatively Agreed to Section 2.3 and 5.7 as rollovers. You can review all of CAPS’ proposals on the CAPS website here.

Facilitated IBB Sessions. Last week’s two Interest-Based Bargaining sessions included a third-party facilitator to help the two Teams begin the “whittling down” process of IBB options for the AR 40 topic. First, the “interests” of both Teams’ were reviewed and discussed to better understand each other and find common ground. Some of these interests include stabilizing the income of those State Scientists employed in the Hazardous Materials Specialist (HMS) series, recognizing the additional duties of having to supervise inmates, and reducing the state’s liability for mishandled hazardous waste. Utilizing these interests, the Teams worked to whittle down a range of possible options. The next steps include working together on language to reduce the options to writing and looping out with each Team’s constituents.     

Money Rules. The CAPS Team took the opportunity, with the facilitator present, to bring up the prevailing sentiment that underlies every conversation on topics that cost money. CalHR’s recent statements implied to the CAPS Team that they were jumping to financial considerations without any thought for other concerns that CAPS has brought forth, including the evidence showing a need for salary adjustments, justifications for providing those adjustments, and the impact of inequitable salaries on programs and State Scientists.  CalHR’s comments also seemed to ignore the tenets of the IBB process by expressing a finality that, from CAPS’ perspective, didn’t invite dialogue. The facilitator counseled the teams on methods to overcome these hurdles, noting that these kinds of comments should be used constructively to improve the options, interests, or story pieces that had given pause in the first place. 

Thank you for all your support. The CAPS Team values all members’ input and support during this often arduous process, and hopes you will continue sharing your thoughts. Your letters are having an impact and painting the picture for CalHR and the Administration that restoring Unit 10 salary relationships is crucial. Please keep sending your letters. We’ve received many letters from Environmental Scientists at DTSC that clearly outline the havoc the pay issue is wreaking, so letters from members representing other departments and classifications would be greatly appreciated. Your voices are helping CAPS get our message across: This pay issue must be fixed for California’s agencies to continue fulfilling their missions, and place the appropriate value on science and scientists. View examples of other members’ letters, and find out how to submit your own, here.

Sincerely, 

The CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Other Items of Note.

Vacation/Annual Leave Cash Out. The CAPS MOU allows eligible employees in participating departments to submit a written request during May to receive payment at their regular salary rate in exchange for up to 80 unused vacation or annual leave hours. Payment for all leave hours are made using existing departmental appropriations, therefore, each department’s participation is subject to the availability of departmental funds. These departments have announced whether they are participating. CAPS will update these lists as departments confirm or decline participation in the program for the year. State Scientists at these departments should have been notified of the department’s participation, and how to enroll. If you encounter issues enrolling in the program at a department that has confirmed their participation this year, as listed above, contact CAPS (). 

Professional Development Grants Available: Apply Now! CAPS strongly urges you to apply now for one of four $400 Professional Development Grants awarded each quarter to support members’ scientific research, education, or other career-enhancing activities that the state does not fully fund. The next deadline to apply is June 30 for grants the CAPS’ Member Benefits Committee will award in July. Applicants may seek funds for upcoming costs or expenses already incurred.  (Due to COVID-19 concerns, at this time the Committee is not considering applications to facilitate attending scheduled in-person meetings or conferences.)  

CAPS makes a total of $1,600 in grants available to deserving activities each quarter. Recipients are chosen in January, April, July, and October, so applications should be submitted before these months to be eligible for the subsequent selection. Once submitted, applications remain eligible for consideration for at least two quarters. For more details about CAPS’ Professional Development Grants and how to apply for this members-only benefit, please go to capsscientists.org/application/benefits/grant. Please contact CAPS staff with questions at  or by calling your nearest CAPS office.  Don’t wait!

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

May 4, 2021

Bargaining Meeting Last Week. The CAPS Bargaining Committee (CAPS Team) met with CalHR again last week to continue negotiations for a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

CAPS Team Shared Additional Letters and Petitions. The CAPS Team shared additional member-submitted letters with CalHR. One from a Research Scientist III member at the California Department of Public Health’s Richmond Campus describes their role in the emergency response to the Grand Princess COVID-19 incident in March 2020. Since then, they continue to work diligently on the State’s pandemic response – often working for long periods of time without any compensation for the overtime. Letters from two members in the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) Site Mitigation and Restoration Program who work side by side with engineers, explain how they earn less than the state engineers they manage as part of interdisciplinary, multi-agency teams of scientists and engineers. And finally, a brand-new State Scientist wrote a letter after working for the state just one month. As a former private-sector scientist, they knew state wages were less, but their first paycheck was shockingly “unlivable.”  You can read these and past member letters, and find out how to submit your own, here

The CAPS Team also shared copies of the member-created and CAPS-amplified petitions to Governor Newsom, California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) Secretary Wade Crowfoot, and California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) Secretary Jared Blumenfeld, and highlighted several comments from these petitions (Governor Newsom’s, Secretary Crowfoot’s, and Secretary Blumenfeld’s) that speak to the impact Unit 10 salary lags are having across classifications and departments. The CAPS Member Action Committee thanks everyone who signed the petitions and encouraged others to do the same. Watch for more Member Actions to come as bargaining continues.

Department of Finance Representative Queried Again. The CAPS Team again pressed the Department of Finance (DOF) representative for more information about California’s “rainy day funds” and their use, the status of the Federal Stimulus money, and Premium Pay for State Scientists who have continued to protect California’s citizens, the environment, and food safety during the global pandemic. The DOF representative explained that there are technically two “rainy day funds.” One is the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties, which holds California’s unspent money. The other is the Budget Stabilization Account, which voters established in 2004. Both funds are limited to spending on one-time emergencies. They could not be used, according to the DOF representative, to fund ongoing commitments such as employee salaries.

Next, the CAPS Team asked about the status of the Federal Stimulus funds and Premium Pay, and were informed that the State has not yet received any of the money promised by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The Administration hopes the State’s Treasury receives the money before the 2021-22 State Budget Revision’s release on May 14, but there are no guarantees. Despite more news stories of California’s pandemic-budget windfall (like this story, or this one), the overall message from the DOF remains the same. The Administration continues to predict that future years will bring economic hard times.  

CalHR SME Presentation on NDI/SDI.  CalHR’s Team brought in Subject Matter Experts last week to answer CAPS questions regarding the two Disability Insurance programs available for State employees. The two programs are as follows: 1.) Non-Industrial Disability Insurance (NDI) and Enhanced Non-Industrial Disability Insurance (ENDI), respectively) and 2.) State Disability Insurance (SDI; Disability Insurance (DI) and Paid Family Leave (PFL)). The funding source for the programs differ: NDI/ENDI is employer-funded, while SDI is employee-funded. Additionally, NDI/EDNI only provides for disability leave for the employee themself, whereas SDI-PFL can be utilized to care for family members. Currently, all Unit 10 employees are covered under NDI/ENDI.

NDI/ENDI, which covers all non-SEIU rank-and-file bargaining units in California, allows up to 26 weeks of disability leave per occurrence for non-work related injuries. Employees pay nothing out-of-pocket for the NDI/ENDI coverage, but NDI is limited to a $135/week cap for employees enrolled in Vacation/Sick, and ENDI provides 50% of salary with the requirement employees are enrolled in Annual Leave. SDI provides leave for up to 52 weeks and 60-70% of salary. Employees in the units covered by SDI contribute 1.2% of salary for the program.

There are many other differences between the two programs, such as: the amount of supplemental leave employees can use; how gross salary is calculated, payroll deductions; state service accrual; and the government codes which dictate certain benefits, to name a few. Since this is a complicated subject, the CAPS Team, with the assistance of a member-led Family and Medical Leave Working Group, will provide more information to members on the pros and cons as bargaining continues.

Family Care Leave was provided to supervisors and managers as part of the E/NDI program in 2019 via legislation.  The CAPS Team asked if Family Care Leave could also be extended to rank-and-file Unit 10 scientists, but CalHR made it very clear that the employer would not pay for any additional paid family leave benefits, and that any additional benefit costs would have to be covered by employees. 

More Salary Options for IBB. The CAPS Team added more options to the IBB salary topic. These options included calculations for the financial adjustments required for State Scientists’ salaries to match those of their counterparts both inside and outside of the unit that would restore Unit 10’s historical salary relationships. CalHR immediately responded by restating the Administration’s pessimistic budget forecast. The CAPS Team did not back down, and instead countered that the finances required to adjust State Scientists’ pay and restore the historical pay relationships were much smaller 15 years ago when these issues began, and if the salary lags are not addressed, they will continue to grow.

We Need Your Letters!  More member input is needed. Your letters are having an impact and painting the picture for CalHR and the Administration that restoring Unit 10 salaries is crucial. Please keep sending your letters, no matter how long or short they are. We’ve received many letters from Environmental Scientists at DTSC that clearly outline the issues the pay issue is causing, so letters from members representing other departments and classifications would be greatly appreciated. Your voices are helping CAPS get our message across: This pay issue must be fixed for California’s agencies to continue fulfilling their missions, and publicly place the appropriate value on science, and scientists. View examples of other members’ letters, and find out how to submit your own, here

In Solidarity, 

The CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Other News of Interest. 

Support David Miller for CalPERS Board. CAPS and CalPERS Board Member, David Miller, is seeking re-election to the CalPERS Board of Directors to the Member-At-Large Position A seat, and he needs your help.  We’re asking for all Unit 10 members to sign and submit a Nomination Petition to help David Miller reach the 250 valid CalPERS member signatures required to ensure that he appears on the ballot.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CalPERS has adopted emergency regulations allowing non-original signatures on the Nomination Petitions. To submit your Nomination Petition, please print the attached form, fill out your full name, provide the last four digits of your Social Security number, give the agency where you are employed or retired from, and sign the form indicating you endorse David’s nomination. Please return the form to CAPS by either scanning and emailing it to  or fax it to (916) 442-4182.  Please share this with your colleagues and send your nomination petition in today!

CAPSule Out Now. The current issue of CAPS’ monthly newsletter, CAPSule, is posted on the CAPS Website. You can view it here!

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

 

April 13, 2021

Bargaining Team Met. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR last week to continue the process of bargaining for a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). During the meeting, the CAPS Team shared additional member letters with CalHR, pressed the Department of Finance (DOF) for answers surrounding the news of increased revenues and federal stimulus money, and passed several proposals to CalHR on a variety of topics. 

Member Letters Passed. CAPS shared additional letters with CalHR, written by members describing their particular circumstances concerning the long-standing inequities between rank-and-file State Scientists and their supervisory and engineering counterparts.

Last week’s letters included a letter from a member from the Department of Toxic Substances Control’s (DTSC) Berkeley Enforcement Program who describes the situation through the lens of their thirty years as a State Scientist. Specifically, they describe the salary difference between the Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) and that of their Senior Environmental Scientist (Supervisor) counterpart as $3.00 per month in 2011, to now a nearly $3,000 per month difference. The member also references CalHR’s guidance that describes a target differential of 10% between supervisors and their direct reports, and how  that is clearly not being maintained for State Scientists. Another letter submitted by a member in DTSC’s Hazardous Waste Management Program, appeals to the Director of CalHR, Eraina Ortega, to end the wage disparities of State Scientists, and provides real-world examples of the detrimental effects these pay inequities have had on their program.

Finally, CAPS also shared an Op-Ed written by State Scientists that will be sent to the LA Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and others in hopes it will be published by a high-readership California publication. The Op-Ed, titled Wage Discrimination Is Illegal and Real for California’s State Scientists, Governor Newsom Needs To Stop It Now, was written by State Scientists and details how a recent survey of CalEPA State Scientists indicated that at least 90% of the respondents said they are unwilling to recruit future State Scientists due to the pay inequities within Unit 10.

You can read the member letters and Op-Ed, and find out how to submit your own, here

DOF Pressed for Answers. The CAPS Team again requested more information from the Department of Finance (DOF) representative in light of recent reports (like this and this) that indicate California’s budget is healthy despite the pandemic. Media reports aside, DOF’s story remains the same for now, that DOF is still determining if there are sufficient funds to end the Personal Leave Program (PLP) prior to July 2022. DOF is also predicting budget shortfalls in future fiscal years but did not elaborate on how it arrived at those predictions. While the budget is in a better shape than initially anticipated, there is currently no guarantee that PLP 2020 will end this year. Likewise, the Administration won’t yet commit to restoring the temporarily-suspended 5% General Salary Increase (GSI) in 2021, nor have they discussed whether additional monies will be allocated specifically for State Scientists’ salaries in 2021. Despite DOF’s reluctance to update their economic forecast, most reports both in the news and from our sources in the Legislature indicate the Governor intends to lift PLP 2020 via negotiations with each state employee union after the revised 2021-22 budget proposal is released in mid-May.

The CAPS Team also asked if COVID-relief funding from the federal American Rescue Plan would allow the state to free up funds within the budget for other uses; whether the Administration had begun discussing Premium Pay, who will be eligible for it; when the additional federal stimulus monies will be received; and whether there is specific criteria for the DOF Director to end PLP 2020 for all bargaining units. The DOF representative’s answers were inconclusive, and made clear that DOF was still gathering information, reviewing the American Rescue Plan, and getting clarification from the Federal Government on how the funds can be spent. 

Getting the Ball Rolling to Restore Salaries. The CAPS Team passed proposals related to the PLP 2020 Side Letter Agreement, as a package, to prompt CalHR to discuss ending PLP 2020 and to restore the temporarily-suspended 5% GSI and make it retroactive to July 1, 2020. The proposals included a new contract section, 2.1.2, Return of Suspended General Salary Increase; the deletion of 2.1.1, Contract Reopener Language; and the modification of 3.23, Personal Leave Program 2020.

Other Proposals Passed. The CAPS Team spent the majority of last week’s session passing proposals to CalHR in the traditional bargaining method. Proposals included: 2.6, Staff Specialist Compensation; 7.7, Work Week Group Definitions and Compensation; 8.10, Employer Contribution for Retiree Health Benefits; 8.11, Post-Retirement Health and Dental Benefit Vesting; 10.1, Representational Designation; 10.2, Access; 10.3, Use of State Phones and Other Equipment; 10.6, Representative Time Off; 10.7, Employee Time Off; 19.6, Transportation Incentives; and new section, 3.XX, Additional Sick Leave Benefits for Current State Employees injured while called to Active Service. The CAPS Team also passed some counterproposals to proposals previously received from CalHR. These included: 2.15, Salary and Alternate Range Disclosure; 5.13, Health Promotion Activities; 7.2, Alternative Work Schedules; and 10.4, Distribution of Literature. Finally, the CAPS Team passed some “rollovers,” or proposals that would not modify existing contract language. Those rollovers included sections: 2.3, Night Shift Differential; and 5.7, FlexElect Program. You can view all of CAPS’ proposals that have been passed in this round of bargaining on the CAPS Website here

Thank You. The CAPS Team thanks you for your unwavering support to secure fair and equitable pay for all State Scientists. Over the last several months CAPS has asked you, the membership, to add your voice to CAPS’ efforts at the bargaining table. Several members have written letters and initiated and signed petitions. It is important all State Scientist classifications add their voice to assist us in bargaining the successor MOU. CalHR is following up on your stories, please keep sending in letters! These membership actions demonstrate State Scientists are united in solidarity behind the CAPS Bargaining Team. There is power in collective action!

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director


Choose Unity. Choose Strength

 

March 17, 2021

Bargaining Last Week. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met again with CalHR last week to continue to bargain for a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The Teams continued using the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) process and focused on the topic of Alternate Range Criteria 40 (AR 40). The CAPS Team also shared some proposals with CalHR in the traditional bargaining process and a member letter. 

Member Letter Shared. The CAPS Team has continued to receive letters in response to our request for support from the membership. Last week, the CAPS Team shared another member letter with CalHR that was submitted by a Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) working out of the Berkeley office at Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). The member discusses the history of the pay issue and the similar or sometimes identical duties between their work and the engineers they work with at DTSC. The member emphasizes that as a seasoned project manager they lead teams and oversee the work of both scientists and engineers and yet the engineers earn more for performing the same duties. The member also notes the extreme pay disparity between rank-and-file Senior Scientists (Specialists) and their Supervisory peers, which prior to 2014, didn’t exist. The member concludes the letter by asking if CalHR will act now to correct the scientists’ pay issue before it further compromises the State’s environmental programs. You can read the letter, and all previously submitted member letters, and find out how to submit your own by clicking here.

Alternate Range Criteria 40. The CAPS Team continued the IBB process on the topic of AR 40 by adding more details to the “story,” “interests,” and “options.” The Teams shared many interests on this topic, including recruiting and retaining scientists at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and compensating employees when they meet the appropriate alternate range criteria, among others. But the CAPS Team’s interests go further, specifically, that those scientists in the Hazardous Materials Specialist (HMS) series are able to experience greater salary stability, that the current HMSs are retained, and HMS scientific work is not outsourced. 

Working together, both Teams identified options for the AR 40 topic, without agreement or evaluation, that could potentially satisfy one or both parties’ interests. The options identified ranged from restructuring the HMS series to include deep classes for all classifications, providing a separate pay differential to recognize inmate supervision duties, reclassing the HMS series and adding a “Correctional Facility (CF)” designation, or including protections to ensure that HMSs aren’t frequently moved in and out of Range B due to circumstances out of their control. The Teams will continue the discussion and evaluate options during future sessions.

CAPS Passed Proposals. During the meeting, the CAPS Team passed proposals to the CalHR Team, proposing changes to improve the existing language in the CAPS MOU for Sections 6.1, Business and Travel Expenses; and 15.9, Professional Conferences. The CAPS Team also passed proposals to add new sections: Electronic Monitoring and Longevity Pay. You can review CAPS’ proposals here

COVID-19 Side Letter Agreement, Reopeners. Early reports from the Governor’s proposed budget released in January indicate his priorities remain focused on combatting the COVID-19 pandemic and California’s economic recovery. The budget proposal also includes the possibility of terminating the Personal Leave Program (PLP) 2020 early, due to California’s better-than-expected fiscal outlook. Immediately after the Governor released his proposed budget, the CAPS Team requested a meeting to discuss ending the program and funding the 5% General Salary Increase (GSI). If PLP 2020 is terminated, wage deductions of 9.23%, and the corresponding 16 hours of leave State Scientists are accruing each month would stop. Additionally, it would mean the leave cap on annual leave or vacation hours would top out at 640 plus the total of accrued PLP 2020 hours. Currently, after nine months of PLP 2020, the cap is 784 hours, which increases each month PLP 2020 is in effect.

The American Rescue Plan that was signed by the President provides additional federal funding to states and local governments and also seems likely to trigger provisions included in the COVID-19 Side Letter Agreement that established the PLP 2020 program.

The COVID-19 Side Letter specifically states that if the State receives funding from the Federal Government, the State may restore some or all of the various pay items that have been suspended (e.g. the 5% GSI that was temporarily suspended) or reduced (employee pay as a result of PLP 2020). Here is the pertinent language: “If the Director of the Department of Finance, as a result of appropriate federal legislation providing additional funding to the state to address the impacts of the COVID-19 Recession, elects to restore, at their sole discretion, some or all of the various pay items that have been suspended or reduced.”  If the State receives federal funding to address the COVID-19 recession, the State is obligated to, “provide notice to the Union and shall meet and confer with the Union upon request regarding the impact of that determination.”  

The CAPS Team reached out to CalHR immediately after President Biden signed the Federal plan that provides additional funding to states and local governments. As of late last week, CalHR had no new budgetary information or decisions to share. Regardless, the CAPS Team will continue to push for a meeting to discuss the early termination of PLP 2020 and the return of the suspended 5% GSI. 

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Other News of Interest. 

CAPS Grant Applications Still Open. The CAPS Member Benefits Committee is accepting applications for 1st Quarter 2021 Professional Development Grants until April 1. Applications received later will be considered for the 2nd Quarter.

Only CAPS members are eligible for one of the four quarterly $400 awards the Committee gives to support scientific research and professional development activities not fully funded by the State. 

In keeping with state and local health mandates and the best scientific guidance, CAPS has temporarily suspended awards that would subsidize in-person meetings and conferences.  All other professional enhancement activities remain eligible for grants, including research, scholarly publication of work, online courses, virtual seminars, and online or virtual meetings.

More details about the members-only Professional Development Grant program and a downloadable application are available online.  The Member Benefits Committee strongly encourages members to apply.

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

March 12, 2021

Dear Hazardous Materials Specialist Series CAPS Members,

Last week, CalHR brought Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to the bargaining table from both CalHR and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to discuss the State’s view of Alternate Range Criteria 40 (AR 40), the background of the Hazardous Material Specialist (HMS) series, and how they view both were designed to work. 

To begin, the CDCR SME reviewed how they determine which HMS classifications have a “deep class” by looking at the pay scales. An example of a “deep class” is one which has multiple ranges, where an employee can move through the ranges through time-in-grade alone (e.g. after one year in Range A an employee can move to Range B). Within the pay scales, classifications that have the notation “21” in the footnote column are an exception to State Personnel Board (SPB) Rule 431, which means these classifications are “deep classed.” The Associate Hazardous Materials Specialist (AHMS) and the Senior Hazardous Materials Specialist (SHMS) classifications do not have footnote “21,” and therefore are not designated as a “deep class.” Whereas, the Hazardous Materials Specialist (HMS) classification does have the footnote 21 designation, so one can move to Range B solely by time-in-grade. Per the Classification and Pay Guide, which is the next authority that the State cited, the AHMS and SHMS classifications only have a “status range,” Range A. The AR 40 is the sole reason for the creation of Range B for the AHMS and SHMS classifications, and, from the State’s perspective, serves as a pay differential for inmate supervision.

Per the State, because the AHMS and SHMS classifications are not a “deep class,” the only way for an AHMS or a SHMS to receive Range B pay is to meet the criteria in AR 40. The State maintains that AR 40 is functioning as it was designed. The CAPS Team, however, insists that the way AR 40 currently is implemented results in large salary swings (upwards of $800) in any given month for those in the HMS series. There are other mechanisms to compensate for the supervision of inmates. For example, other classes receive Pay Differential 67, which ensures employees are paid for inmate supervision duties while not experiencing such wide swings in their monthly income, and therefore earn a more stable income. CAPS also noted that other classes reward time-in-grade, and so should the entire HMS series.

Next, the CDCR SME detailed the calculation for Range B pay, and cited California Code of Regulations (CCR) 559.681. The example that was provided is that AHMS Range B is calculated by subtracting the top step of Range A from the top step of Range B ($7731 – $7014), to arrive at $717, and adding this amount to the AHMS’ Range A pay. This means that regardless of where an AHMS falls within Range A, when they meet the AR 40 criteria, the pay increase is $717. This means the difference in pay for each class in the HMS series when one qualifies for AR 40 or AR 70 ranges between $400-$800 per month. CAPS once again noted that this is significantly different than other professional scientific classification series and causes undue hardship for employees. Additionally, calling it “Range B” makes understanding how the Alternate Range actually functions difficult for those actually in the classification, let alone for those new to state service.

Further, the CDCR SME explained that Merit Salary Adjustments (MSAs) are calculated based on the employee’s current salary during their anniversary month. For example, if an AHMS meets the AR 40 criteria, and is in Range B at the time of their anniversary date, their MSA is based on their Range B pay. If that employee no longer meets the AR 40 criteria after their MSA is enacted and goes back to Range A, their pay is decreased by $717, but their MSA dollar amount increase remains that which was calculated while they were receiving Range B pay.

The CAPS Team informed the CDCR SMEs about those scientists working in the HMS series who have experienced losing Range B as a result of going on vacation or taking sick leave. CDCR insists that they do all that they can to ensure employees keep their Range B pay when they go on vacation, and that they do not move employees in and out of Range B for taking vacation leave, but that there are times when an employee might lose their Range B pay. For example, COVID restrictions have seen prison populations decrease heavily which has directly affected opportunities for HMSs to supervise inmates and advance to or remain in Range B.  But these stipulations are not found in the plain language of AR 40 and AR 70, and the CalHR SMEs have not yet provided any rules or policies about the above process, so the CAPS Team will continue to pursue clarity on this issue. Without solidifying language that recognizes benefits not found in the plain language, the State may not be consistent on how they interpret AR 40 and AR 70.

The CAPS Team asked whether an employee could be removed from AR 40 as a result of using sick leave or disability leave, but CalHR’s SMEs were not prepared to answer. They committed to conducting more research and providing more answers in the future.

Though the State holds that AR 40 is functioning as it was designed, the CAPS Team insists that there is a deep flaw in continuing with the status quo. The large salary fluctuation for these duties is unacceptable. The CAPS Team has posed that the entire series needs a rehaul and that the Range Bs that currently exist for AHMS and SHMS should be “grandfathered” in as part of a deep class. Additionally, the designation of the HMS Series as “Correctional Facility” (CF) has been put forth as a potential option by the CAPS Team. The CAPS Team has embarked on putting forth some of these solutions, but we have yet to reach the stage in the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) process where both sides can evaluate what options could provide the solution. We do want to ensure; however, that the affected members are provided with timely information, and given an opportunity to review the position put forth by CalHR and CDCR.

CAPS members, please provide us your thoughts on a method to address this issue, and whether you, as a HMS series scientist, have experienced losing Range B as a result of going on vacation or taking sick leave. We are working hard to ensure that your issues are heard and addressed. Please send comments to . The information will be shared with the entire Bargaining Team. Please also encourage your HMS colleagues who have yet to become CAPS members to join the union – we are stronger together (Find out more here)! Thank you once again for your engagement and support. We look forward to hearing from you! 

In Solidarity, 

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

March 9, 2021

Bargaining Team Met with CalHR. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with the CalHR Team last week, continuing efforts to bargain for a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Last week, bargaining focused on several topics, including continuing discussions of Alternate Range Criteria 40 (AR 40), travel and lodging issues impacting CAPS members, and next steps within the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) process. 

Member Letters Shared. The CAPS Team has continued to receive letters in response to our request for support from the membership. The letters received so far have detailed the salary-related issues you and your colleagues face every day, the impact on your program’s work, your agency’s ability to meet its mission, your department’s ability to recruit and retain the scientists it needs, and the low morale caused by these issues. This week, the CAPS Team shared two more member letters with CalHR. The first letter, from a member at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, describes their need to maintain multiple side jobs to stay afloat in the San Francisco Bay Area. The second letter, from a Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) at the Department of Water Resources, relates the impacts they see in their program due to the inequities between State Scientists and State Engineers who perform comparable duties. You can read the member letters, and find out how to submit your own, here

Additional Information Provided to CalHR. The CAPS Team gave the CalHR Team copies of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Workforce and Succession Plan for 2020-2022 and highlighted several sections, including CDFA’s recognition that State Scientists’ salary challenges pose a significant obstacle for future recruitment efforts and current employee retention. The CAPS Team requested Workforce and Succession Plans from other departments and asks that should your department has a similar plan, please provide a copy to CAPS (). The CAPS Team also shared a public statement made by CAPS Members in June 2018 at a State Personnel Board Hearing in support of reclassifying various specialized classes – used only at CDFA – into the Research Scientist classification to more accurately reflect their duties and responsibilities. You can read the statement transcript here.

Alternate Range Criteria 40 Discussions Continue. In our last Bargaining Update, we reported that the CAPS Team had asked CalHR’s Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) several questions that required additional research. CalHR’s SMEs returned last week better prepared to answer the CAPS Team’s questions, including a full explanation of the State’s understanding of how AR 40 functions. The CAPS Team stressed that what CalHR’s SMEs had provided is not consistent with member experiences at the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). Both teams then began the IBB process of discussing and recording the AR 40 “Story,” or all the facts as each side understands them. CAPS will provide an additional update to members in the affected classifications later this week.

Travel and Lodging Discussions. CalHR also brought in SMEs to discuss the CAPS Team’s questions surrounding travel and lodging. The CAPS Team reiterated that this is another very important topic for members: large swaths of State Scientists perform fieldwork and often times in remote areas. The State’s lodging rates frequently force members to pay out-of-pocket, travel long distances (e.g. from their hotel, or within a single day because they cannot find a room at the State rate), or stay in unsafe locations to perform their duties. The CAPS Team shared that during the last bargaining round with the previous Administration, CalHR stressed that moving the lodging rates into the CalHR Manual would give the State the authority to keep reimbursement rates current with climbing costs, and wouldn’t require each bargaining unit to independently bargain lodging rates. In separate meetings about travel and lodging, years ago, CAPS was informed that CalHR and Department of General Services (DGS) use the submitted excess lodging forms to determine when it is time to adjust travel and lodging rates. However, since the State lodging rates have not been adjusted, it would appear that this process is not working.

The CAPS Team provided a long list of questions to CalHR ahead of last week’s meeting to enable a meaningful discussion of the process and metrics the Administration uses to update the travel and lodging rates, as they have not been adjusted since the previous MOU went into effect. The CAPS Team shared that members at multiple departments have reported being told not to submit the excess lodging forms. Other members report submitting the forms but never receiving a written response, making the use of the forms as a metric for change inaccurate, at best. Unfortunately, CalHR’s responses to the questions fell short of the CAPS Team’s expectations, as the current Administration appears to prefer the rates be bargained.

Upcoming IBB Tasks. Finally, the CAPS Team and CalHR discussed moving forward in the IBB process, and the next steps for the IBB topics after the story, interests, and options are completed. After options are exhausted, the next step is for the teams to jointly work to whittle down the options and begin to evaluate their plausibility for inclusion in a final agreement.

In Solidarity, 

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Other News of Interest. 

CAPS Member Needs Your Help! CAPS Member, Henry (Sharif) Traylor, an Environmental Scientist for the California Coastal Commission in Santa Cruz, has requested catastrophic leave donations in order to continue receiving pay and benefits.  Section 3.10 of the CAPS MOU allows transfer of the following leave credits as catastrophic leave: CTO, Personal Leave, Annual Leave, Vacation, Personal Day, and/or Holiday Credit. If donating Personal Holidays, they must be donated in whole-day increments per the donating employee’s time base. All other donations must be made in a minimum of one hour (1.00) increments. Sick leave cannot be donated. You can find the form to donate to Mr. Traylor on the CAPS Website here.

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS.

March 2, 2021

Bargaining Team Met Twice. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met twice with the CalHR team last week, once to continue bargaining for a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and once to discuss a Contact Tracing Side Letter Agreement for Unit 10.

Alternate Range 40 Discussions. The Teams continued discussing Alternate Range Criteria 40 (AR 40). CalHR Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) presented information about the structure of the Hazardous Materials Specialist Series and its relation to AR 40 from CalHR’s perspective. After their presentation, the CAPS Team asked questions that prompted the need for CalHR to gather more information. CalHR confirmed their SMEs would return during a future meeting after researching the CAPS Team’s questions.

Member Submissions Shared. The CAPS Team has continued to receive letters in response to our request for support from the membership. The letters received so far have detailed the salary-related issues you and your colleagues face every day, the impact on your program’s work, your agency’s ability to meet its mission, your department’s ability to recruit and retain the scientists it needs, and the stress of dealing with these issues. This week, the CAPS Team shared two more member letters with CalHR. The first one was from a group of Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) members. It clearly detailed how this classification functions as a peer class with the Senior Environmental Scientist (Supervisor), and how the implementation of the Like Pay for Like Work (LPLW) Lawsuit broke that long-standing relationship. The second submission came from State Scientists at the Department of Toxic Substances Control, State Water Resources Control Board, Department of Water Resources, and the Delta Stewardship Council. Their letter describes the significant impacts to Rank-and-File State Scientists as a result of only implementing the LPLW Lawsuit for supervisory classifications. You can review both letters here. Please keep the letters coming. You can help by submitting yours to .

CAPS Passed Proposals. During the meeting the CAPS Team passed proposals to the CalHR Team, proposing changes to improve the existing language in the CAPS MOU for Sections 2.7, Diving/Climbing Pay; 3.1, Vacation Leave; 3.8, Jury Duty; and 5.3, Medical Monitoring. You can review the proposals here.

Roll Overs Agreed To. The CAPS Team and CalHR tentatively agreed to several Roll Over Proposals, which is language from CAPS’ last MOU that will “roll over” with no substantive changes to the next MOU. The Roll Overs include these CAPS MOU Sections: 3.21, No Mandated Reduction In Work Hours; 5.8, Pre-Tax of Health, Dental, Vision Premiums; 6.2, Moving Expenses; 6.5, Damage of Personal Items; 7.1, Meal Period; 7.5, Fair Labor Standards Act; 9.6, Informal Discussion; 9.12, Formal Grievance – Step 5; 9.13, Health and Safety Greivances; 13.8, Sexual Harassment; 16.3, Change in Work Location; 16.4, Appeal of Involuntary Transfer; and 17.2, Out-of-Class Grievance Process.

Contact Tracing Side Letter Meeting. The CAPS Team also met with a different CalHR Team last week to discuss a Side Letter Agreement that would grant Bilingual Pay for members redirected to the Contact Tracing Program, retroactive to July 1, 2020. The agreement would also clarify workplace rights for Contact Tracers. After a lot of back and forth, the CalHR and CAPS Teams reached agreement and signed a Side Letter that will go into effect immediately. You can view the Side Letter Agreement here. Side Letter Agreements do not require ratification from the membership, and therefore are in effect after signature by both parties.

Important Notes About the Contact Tracing Side Letter. CalHR initially proposed the Side Letter Agreement solely to grant Bilingual Pay to members using their bilingual skills in their work as Contact Tracers. The CAPS Team bargained for additional important provisions, including:

If you encounter any issues with your Contact Tracing Assignment, as always, contact CAPS ().

Items of Note for Contact Tracers. Some informational items CAPS proposed to include in the Contact Tracing Side Letter Agreement were not agreed to by CalHR, as they already exist in the CAPS MOU. Please note, that due to the “Evergreen Clause” of the Dill’s Act, all sections of the 2018-2020 CAPS MOU are still in effect for all members, including those members redirected to Contact Tracing. For instance, members have the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) available to them, pursuant to CAPS MOU, Section 5.2. Many members have reported that the Contact Tracing Program weighs heavily on them, so reaching out for assistance may help. Each fiscal year, CAPS members are entitled to a total of three sessions for themselves, and a total of three sessions for their spouse and dependent children. You can read more about EAP on the CalHR Website here.

CAPS also proposed language to clarify when the Contact Tracing Program assignments would end. Although the CAPS Team verbally heard that the Contact Tracing Program may end on June 30, 2021, CalHR did not mutually agree to include an end date in the Side Letter Agreement. Absent a formal end date, the CAPS Team asked the Administration’s representatives what metrics would need to be met for the Contact Tracer Program to end, but CalHR’s team was unable to provide that information due to the uncertainties of the pandemic. CAPS ensured that our Side Letter Agreement had reopener language to resolve any issues with the Contact Tracing Program, with the expectation we will want to meet should the date of the Program be extended.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

February 9, 2021

Bargaining Team Met with CalHR. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR again last week to continue bargaining for a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The teams discussed telework using the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) process, but also discussed CalHR’s counters to CAPS proposed updates to current MOU sections in the traditional bargaining process.

Telework. The teams continued the IBB process centering on the topic of telework. The CalHR Team urged the CAPS Team to focus on what working remotely will look like long-term after the pandemic ends. This is because the emergency telework agreements currently in effect for many State Scientists are separate and distinct from teleworking agreements under any future MOU. The CAPS Team recognized the Department of General Services (DGS) is in the process of updating the Management Memo that would provide a foundation for departments to create their own telework policies, and that DGS started drafting the document before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the CAPS Team contended that any telework rights should build on lessons learned from the widespread utilization of telework during the pandemic.

Shared Interests for Telework. Both teams identified and shared their separate and mutual interests with regard to telework. The CAPS Team’s interests include allowing State Scientists to voluntarily enter into telework agreements, and ensuring that State Scientists don’t pay out-of-pocket for work-related expenses. CalHR’s Team identified the following interests, among others: reducing the State’s building-lease costs, departmental preapproval of telework expenses, and the State’s ability to mandate telework. Both teams identified a host of mutual interests, including: ensuring any cost-shift from the employer to the employee does not negatively affect the employee, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and that if an employee’s duties allow for telework, they be given the opportunity to do so.

Possible Options for Telework. The CAPS Team and CalHR began to identify different “options,” without agreement or evaluation, that could potentially satisfy the interests of one or both parties. The wide range of options included allowing maximum flexibility within telework agreements, from a partial day (e.g. telework in the mornings) to full-time (e.g. five-days-per-week) telework, State-provided telecommunications equipment, and dedicating funds to cover telework expenses.

Counter Proposals. The CalHR Team provided counter proposals for some sections of the current MOU the CAPS Team had passed as potential new language. In some instances, the CAPS Team proposed the sections be brought up to the “standard” rate of a benefit provided to other employees in State service. The counters show the State is concerned about the cost of items and continues to reference financial impacts over treating bargaining units equitably. Even so-called “soft costs,” or costs that don’t directly involve specifically earmarking money for one unit were removed from consideration in the Administration’s proposals. Non-bankable days off are one example of a soft cost. The CAPS Team will review and discuss the Administration’s counter proposals and may, in turn, propose CAPS counter proposals. Bargaining items are not “closed” until there is a tentative successor MOU, which means discussions and proposals on all bargaining related items can still occur. Members can view CAPS proposals here.

Contrary to news reports of increased revenues and surplus money the Administration’s perspective on the budget remains the same, that the State is still in a financial crisis. Even though the Administration has countered CAPS proposals, the CAPS Team will continue to press the Administration into investing in Unit 10 and providing equitable benefits to State Scientists. The CAPS Team will continue to utilize the IBB process to build a relationship with CalHR and the Administration to finally resolve the longstanding pay inequity issues that State Scientists face.

The CAPS Team Needs Your Help. The CAPS Team thanks you for your unwavering support to secure fair and equitable pay for all State Scientists. One of the most effective ways to support CAPS’ bargaining is writing letters to CalHR and submitting them to CAPS (). The CAPS Team will review and share them with CalHR. It has become abundantly clear to the CAPS Team that your letters are making a difference, and that CalHR is following up on members’ statements. So please continue submitting letters­, because they are effective. Letters can focus on the salary inequity State Scientists encounter daily and its impact on your program’s work, your agency’s ability to meet its mission, your department’s ability to recruit and retain scientists, or any other issue you experience as a State Scientist.  Find more information about this request here.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Other Important Items of Note: 

Thank you for your Interest: CAPS Masks. CAPS thanks all members who have submitted orders for adult and/or children’s protective face masks to support the simple fact: Science Saves Lives. CAPS ordered an initial limited supply of these protective masks for members and we have reached that limit. CAPS will look at the feasibility of ordering additional rounds of CAPS-branded masks, with member interest. If you are interested in obtaining a mask, and were unable to in the first round, please fill out this form.

Orders are being mailed to members in batches, thank you for your patience. When you receive your mask, be sure to take a photo with your mask on and tag @capsscientists on social media or send the photos direct to 

February 2, 2021

Team Met with CalHR Twice. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with representatives from CalHR twice last week, once to discuss Bargaining a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), and once to discuss a Side Letter Agreement to clarify workplace rights and bilingual pay for qualifying State Scientists that have been redirected to Contact Tracing.

Successor Talks Continue. The CAPS Team continued discussions about a successor MOU with a clarification on the Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) hybrid process the teams have used, and the next steps moving forward. Both groups agreed the discussion was helpful to ensure that each party knows what to expect. During this discussion, however, CalHR once again mentioned the State is facing financial hardships, and that any successor MOU will likely reflect the current financial outlook.

Telework. The teams then turned to a timely subject: telework. The CAPS Team discussed the “story” behind telework, noting the pandemic has demonstrated that many State Scientists’ tasks can be performed remotely. Before the global outbreak, securing the option to telework was difficult, particularly in departments that insisted employees need in-person supervision to work efficiently. The CAPS Team stressed that many departments have reported that telework allowed them to catch up on backlogs, demonstrating that telework can be more efficient than traditional office work. The Team also noted other advantages of telework: it reduces employees’ commuting time and costs; and more broadly, telework lowers the State’s greenhouse gas emissions by keeping more cars off the road. Still, the CAPS Team said, there are some challenges to remote working: some State Scientists’ duties do not allow for the option of telework; working from home can pass some employer costs on to employees, such as utilities, internet expenses, office furniture, and supplies; and some State Scientists do not have the capacity to establish a permanent home office.

Alternate Range Criteria 40. The teams also discussed the IBB topic of Alternate Range Criteria (AR) 40. CalHR noted that CAPS’ presentations on the subject had prompted them to research the history of AR 40 and its use with the Hazardous Materials Specialist series at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). CalHR indicated that representatives with specific knowledge of AR 40 and representatives from CDCR will likely be brought in to a future meeting to share their research, in detail, to ensure a better understanding on both sides.

Proposals Passed. The CAPS Team continued to make progress toward a tentative agreement by passing two proposals this week: one updating the percentages the State pays towards employee healthcare premiums, and removing the 24-month waiting period for dental coverage for new hires; and a proposed new section, Health Care Stipend. You can view the proposals on the CAPS website here.

Contact Tracer Side Letter Continues. The CAPS Team also met with a specialized CalHR team last week to discuss a possible Side Letter Agreement to provide bilingual pay to qualifying State Scientists who use that skill while redirected to the Contact Tracing Program, and other workplace rights for all State Scientists who have been redirected. A majority of the discussions centered around the duration of the Contact Tracing Program; who has the right to terminate a contact tracing assignment, and on what grounds; and if there could be additional mental health resources for contact tracers. The CAPS Team countered the Administration’s proposal, and will meet with CalHR on a future date to continue negotiations. The CAPS Team wants to ensure any Side Letter Agreement outlines members’ rights still available to them during a Contact Tracing Assignment and provides as much useful information for members as possible.

Thank You for Your Continued Support. The CAPS Team thanks you for your unwavering support and asks you to consider helping to secure fair and equitable pay for all State Scientists. Support the CAPS Team by writing letters to CalHR and submitting them to CAPS () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR. It has become abundantly clear to the CAPS Team that your letters make a difference and that CalHR follows up on members’ statements. Please continue submitting letters. The State’s Team is reading them. Find more information about this request here.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Other Important Items of Note: 

Dependent Re-Verification. Once every three years, state employees must re-verify the eligibility of their insured dependents. The year you must re-verify your dependents is based on your birth month. For 2021, employees born in January, April, July, and October will be asked to re-verify their dependents’ eligibility. If you need to verify your dependents’ eligibility this year, CalPERS will mail you a notice three months ahead of your birth month. Learn more about the verification process on the CalHR website here.

Thank you for your Interest: CAPS Masks. CAPS thanks all members who have submitted orders for adult and/or children’s protective face masks to support the simple fact: Science Saves Lives. CAPS ordered an initial limited supply of these protective masks for members, and we have reached that limit. CAPS will look at the feasibility of ordering additional rounds of CAPS-branded masks, based on member interest. If you are interested in obtaining a mask, but were unable to in the first round, please fill out this form.

CAPS is mailing out orders in batches, and we thank you for your patience. When you receive your mask, please put it on, take a few photos, post them on social media, and tag @capsscientists. You can also email your photos directly to: .

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

January 26, 2021

Bargaining Continues with CalHR. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR last week. This marked the first time bargaining talks had resumed since Governor Newsom released his Fiscal Year 2021-22 State Budget proposal. As a result, the CAPS Team asked many questions related to the draft budget.

Budget Questions Abound. The CAPS Team posed questions to clarify the Governor’s proposed budget. Specifically, the CAPS Team asked if CalHR considered using part of the $15.6 billion budget surplus to address State Scientists’ salary inequities; whether the increased revenues from this Fiscal Year’s budget (which could trigger the Gann Limit) could be used to help fund compensation increases for Unit 10; and how the Governor arrived at the $19 billion figure projected to go to the reserve. CalHR and the Department of Finance (DOF) said the State’s financial picture is worse than in January 2020 – despite the current surplus and next year’s anticipated reserve. CalHR also indicated that even with the surplus revenues going into reserves, it is unclear at this point if the budget will include employee compensation increases. CalHR committed to providing more information about the Gann Limit and the CAPS Team’s other questions. The CAPS Team also informed CalHR of our interest in discussing the terms of the current COVID-19 Side Letter Agreement, which includes restoring the reductions from PLP 2020 and the Unit 10 General Salary Increase deferred in July 2020 to July 2022.

More Member-Provided Information. This week, the CAPS Team shared communication from members at DTSC’s Safer Consumer Products Program. It provided details about the program, including classifications, and the rationale for why scientists in that program desperately require equitable salaries. While this highlights the inequities in one program, it underscores the need for equitable pay for all State Scientists.

Proposals Passed. The CAPS Team continued moving closer to a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by passing five more proposals. You can view the proposals here.

Measuring Progress. CalHR and the CAPS Team reviewed progress made toward a successor MOU. Bargaining a successor MOU requires renegotiating every part of the previous MOU. That assessment can lend clarity to how far the parties remain from reaching a tentative agreement. CalHR indicated they need to see all proposals prior to having meaningful financial discussions on what proposals the Administration may be willing to agree to. CAPS and CalHR’s progress thus far does not yet lend a full picture of the potential cost of a successor MOU. A full financial picture will help both sides determine whether aspects of proposals passed are feasible.

Thank You for Your Continued Support. The CAPS Team thanks you for your unwavering support and asks you to consider helping to secure fair and equitable pay for all State Scientists. Please consider supporting the CAPS Team by writing letters to CalHR and submitting them to CAPS () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR. It has become abundantly clear to the CAPS Team that your letters are making a difference, and that CalHR is following up on members’ concerns. Please continue submitting letters, they are being read by the State’s Team. Find more information about this request here.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Committee

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President

Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President

Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director

Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director

David Rist
CAPS District IV Director

Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Other Important Items of Note: 

DRAFT Minutes Posted. The DRAFT Minutes from the November 7, 2020, Virtual Board of Directors Meeting are now posted on the Members-Only Section of the CAPS Website. The password is Winter2020 – it is case-sensitive.

Thank you for your Interest: CAPS Masks. CAPS thanks all members who have submitted orders for adult and/or children’s protective face masks to support a simple fact: Science Saves Lives. Members quickly snapped up the initial supply, but CAPS may consider ordering more of these CAPS-branded masks, if member interest remains high. If you requested a mask but did not receive one because supplies ran out, please fill out this interest form.

Orders are being mailed to members in batches, thank you for your patience. When you receive it, be sure to take a photo with your mask on and tag @capsscientists on social media or send the photos direct to .

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

December 22, 2020

Bargaining Team Met With CalHR. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met again with CalHR last week to bargain the terms of a successor contract. Last week’s discussions included several items: the salary issue has reached a point such that outside entities are now requesting the governor remedy the situation; the history of Unit 10’s reclassification and consolidation project and options that take that work into consideration; the next Interest-Based Bargaining Topic (IBB), Alternate Range Criteria 40; and CalHR’s team proposed changes to Section 7.8: On-Call Assignments Department of Fish and Wildlife.

State Scientists’ Salary Issues Not an Internal Matter. The CAPS Team began the day by sharing with CalHR two reports by stakeholders outside of State Government that emphasize the need, as well as the impacts to State programs, to resolve the inequitable pay of State Scientists.

The first report, “Healthy Communities and Safer Chemicals,” from January 2019, comes from the Public Health Institute with a strong recommendation that the Governor and Legislature “correct the pay disparity between environmental scientists and engineers in California government” (page 4).

The second report, “Clean Water Accountability,” was produced by the California Coastkeeper Alliance in October 2020. It recommends that “the Governor should direct CalHR to adjust the salaries for environmental scientists across the regions to improve recruitment and retention” (page 36). The CAPS Team emphasized that State Scientists’ salaries are viewed as inequitable inside and outside of state service and have also become a priority for stakeholders. These reports show that the lack of pay equity for state scientists impacts state government, as well as the priorities of several stakeholder groups, some of which are now requesting that the Governor remedy the situation.

Consolidation and Reclassification Effort. The CAPS Team provided background to CalHR on the long-standing effort to modernize, consolidate, and reclassify the 81 different classifications in Unit 10 to ensure they accurately reflect the actual work of State Scientists. The CAPS Team explained that a joint project was undertaken by CAPS and Management during the Brown Administration. It suddenly collapsed during bargaining in 2015 when CalHR stated they were no longer interested in pursuing the effort. Following review, both the CAPS Team, and members of CalHR’s Team emphasized that hundreds of hours had gone into the effort to appropriately modernize CAPS’ classifications, only for departments and CAPS to be left at the very end without any agreement on the reclassifications, nor an explanation of the abandonment of the project.

The addition of this background information to the IBB Salary Story allowed the CAPS Team to add more options that would fix the salary issue and reclassify and modernize some classifications simultaneously. The most recent iterations of the joint consolidation and reclassification project were shared again with CalHR.

IBB Topic: Alternate Range Criteria 40. The CAPS Team opened the next IBB Topic, Alternate Range (AR) Criteria 40, with presentations by the CAPS Team and a Subject Matter Expert (SME), Matthew Palmer (Associate Hazardous Material Specialist – California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation). The presentations described the complications caused by AR 40; whereby State Scientists employed in the Hazardous Materials Specialist series do not have stability in their pay from month to month, through no fault of their own. AR 40 requires that an employee must supervise at least two inmates or other ward of the state for a total of at least 173 hours per month in order to be placed in Range B. If the inmate loses their working privileges, is released, or if management assigns the inmate elsewhere, the State Scientist drops back down to Range A. The CAPS Team explained the issues caused by AR 40, and its sister criteria, AR 70, in wreaking havoc on State Scientists’ income stability. Look for Matthew’s SME presentation on the CAPS SME Presentations page in the coming weeks.

CalHR Passes Proposals. This week, CalHR passed two counterproposals to Section 7.2 (Alternate Work Week Schedule) and 15.6 (Professional Papers). CalHR also passed a new proposal for Section 7.8, which outlines how State Scientists in the Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are paid for remaining on-call for seven days at a time. The CAPS Team will evaluate the proposal with CAPS OSPR SMEs. You can read CAPS proposals on Section 7.2 and 15.6 here, and the current contract language on Section 7.8 here.

Correction From Last Week’s Bargaining Update. CAPS strives to make sure the information sent to our members is accurate and correct. Last week’s Bargaining Update mistakenly included that CAPS’ Proposal on Section 15.2 – Performance Appraisals and Individual Development Plans – was accepted by CalHR and could be tentatively agreed to at a future meeting. While CalHR and the CAPS team did discuss several sections under Article 15, CalHR did not include Section 15.2 in their verbal list of acceptable proposals.

Thank You for Your Continued Support. The CAPS Team thanks you for your unwavering support and asks you to consider helping in this cause. Please consider writing a letter with your colleagues to CalHR and submitting it to CAPS () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR. It has become abundantly clear to the CAPS Team that your letters are making a difference, and that CalHR is following up on members’ concerns – Your voices are being heard. Find more information about this request here.

December 15, 2020

Bargaining Continues. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR twice last week: the first time to continue bargaining for a successor contract, and the second time to negotiate a Side Letter agreement for employees who have been temporarily reassigned to Contact Tracing duties.

Questioning Finance. The CAPS Team again queried the Department of Finance (DOF) representative about the $26 billion windfall recently projected by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO). The DOF representative indicated there was no new information and it’s unknown at this time how the windfall could impact next year’s financial outlook with regard to employee compensation. The CAPS Team once again offered to provide additional information about the Unit 10 salary lags should there be any remaining questions about the need to adjust scientists’ salaries.

Member Letters Shared. The CAPS Team has been asking for your support by writing letters to the Administration and the response has been considerable. Hearing directly from members makes an impression on the Administration and the CAPS Team is benefitting from your support. Your letters have detailed the problems you and your colleagues contend with every day, and the impacts the salary lags are having on your programs, departments, and agencies’ abilities to meet their missions. This week, the CAPS Team shared additional member letters with CalHR, including one from several scientists who work at the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation, and one from a member who works at the Central Valley Flood Protection Board’s Environmental Services and Land Management Branch.

Savings Plus Program Information Request. As relayed in last week’s bargaining update, CalHR passed proposals pertaining to the Savings Plus Program. The CAPS Team had several questions about the proposals and requested additional information about applicable IRS Tax Codes and other parameters that could affect how the proposed changes to the program would be enforced. CalHR is still preparing a response and expects to have the requested information soon.

Additional Proposals and Progress. CalHR passed an additional proposal last week for Section 2.14 – Operational Availability Incentive – Department of Water Resources (DWR). The proposal was presented as “clean up” and clarification language that would reflects current practices at DWR, and would not impact who currently is eligible to receive the incentive. This proposal is under review. Finally, CalHR noted that CAPS’ Proposals on Section 15.2 – Performance Appraisals and Individual Development Plans and 15.3 – Training were acceptable and could be tentatively agreed to at a future meeting. You can view Section 15.2 and 15.3 proposals here.

Contact Tracing Side Letter. As shared with the CAPS Membership in October, CAPS was notified of the Administration’s intent to expand bilingual pay to Contact Tracers utilizing those skills through the Bilingual Pay Differential. CAPS passed a counter proposal to CalHR in October that would formalize this new program and member rights surrounding it. This week, CAPS met with the CalHR representatives who are the Administration’s labor relations leads for Contract Tracing to discuss this counter proposal.

The CAPS Team told CalHR that State Scientist’s work cannot simply be put on hold – that many colleagues are having to double-up on work, or contact tracers are finding themselves continuing both assignments. Additionally, the CAPS Team advocated that employees reassigned to Contact Tracing are provided physical (i.e. ergonomic evaluations) and mental (i.e. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)) support and benefits. The representative from the Department of Public Health (CDPH) informed CAPS that there were more online classes for mental wellness currently in circulation. CAPS requested that information to share with the membership.

The proposed Side Letter will provide any Unit 10 member who can self-certify and is certified by CDPH as performing bilingual duties as a Contact Tracer the Bilingual Pay Differential, backdated to July 1, 2020. The CAPS Team expects to schedule an additional meeting and a counterproposal from CalHR and CDPH next week to, hopefully, finalize this Side Letter agreement.

Thank You for Your Continued Support. The CAPS Team wants to thank you for your continued engagement, and encourages you to support the bargaining process. Please consider assisting the CAPS Team in their efforts by writing letters to CalHR and submitting them to CAPS () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR. Find more information about this request here.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Committee

December 8, 2020

Bargaining Team Meets. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR again last week to continue negotiations for a successor contract. The meeting began with a discussion of the State’s updated financial forecast for next fiscal year given recent news of a financial windfall, which led to additional discussions about the Unit 10 salary lags.

Department of Finance Questions Remain. During the communications loop in, the CAPS Team queried the Department of Finance (DOF) representative about the recently reported $26 billion “windfall” of additional tax revenue projected for next fiscal year’s budget. The CAPS Team asked if the unexpected windfall changed the outlook for ending the Personal Leave Program (PLP 2020), funding the deferred 5% General Salary Increase (GSI), and most importantly, the possibility of correcting Unit 10’s salary lags. The DOF representative explained that while the $26 billion was a welcome development for the State, it did not significantly change this year’s fiscal outlook, or next year’s, as the State’s operating budget still has a structural deficit, even after taking into account savings from PLP 2020 and deferred employee raises. The CAPS Team also pressed the DOF representative on what the Governor’s priorities are for the coming fiscal year, and if State Scientists are included. Once again, the CAPS Team did not hear that science was a priority. The DOF representative also stated that relevant information from the Bargaining Sessions is shared with DOF management, but they have not heard details from the Governor’s office about the budget.

Legislative Analyst’s Office Past Findings Support CAPS’ Arguments. The CAPS Team provided CalHR with additional information about Unit 10’s salary history: specifically, two Fiscal Analysis Reports that were produced by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) for past Unit 10 contracts. The August 2014 Report, which was released shortly after the Like Pay for Like Work raises for supervisors was funded, states that, “…many Unit 10 managers and supervisors will receive large pay increases- between 18 percent and 43 percent-as a result of a recent court decision. The combination of these factors likely will affect management and rank-and-file pay differentials. We advise the Legislature to monitor these changes in salaries and try to maintain appropriate differentials between rank-and-file and managerial classifications.”

The CAPS Team also shared information from the 2018 LAO Fiscal Analysis Report for Unit 10, which includes a statement about parity issues, “There are a number of classifications represented by Unit 10 that are similar to classifications represented by Unit 9 (professional engineers). There have been issues in the past with retaining Unit 10 members as they are drawn to higher compensation levels provided by the Unit 9 classifications.”

Based on these findings by the State’s LAO, the CAPS Team added additional salary options based on the LAO’s reports. After presenting these additional story items and options, the CalHR Team remained silent and as with past Bargaining Sessions, did not state the Administration agrees that Unit 10 has salary lags. The CAPS Team will continue providing salary related information, and persist in our pursuit of resolving this long-standing pay inequity issue.

CalHR Discusses Expanding Savings Plus Options. CalHR brought in their own subject matter expert to discuss potentially expanding members’ options for transferring vacation and/or annual leave hours to a Savings Plus 457(b) and/or 401(k) plan. They passed proposals, which are under review by the CAPS Team.

Proposals Passed, Sections Tentatively Agreed To. The CAPS Team passed several more proposals for CalHR to review. You can view them here. The CAPS Team and the State also Tentatively Agreed (TA’d) to six sections of our successor MOU. You can view those here.

Another Member Letter Shared. The CAPS Team received another letter from a CAPS Member, detailing the issues they face due to Unit 10’s salary issue. It was shared with CalHR during the morning loop-in. You can read it here.

Your Continued Support Is Very Appreciated and Meaningful. The CAPS Team thanks you for your continued support, and asks that you please consider writing more letters to CalHR and submitting them to the CAPS Team () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR. Find more information about this request here.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Committee

November 24, 2020

Bargaining Continues. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR this week, transitioning to the next Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) topic: the High Cost of Living in California, known as Geographic Pay (Geo Pay). However our discussion on salaries are not over. Due to the calculations and evaluations done by the State, items with a financial component are typically resolved last, and this time is no different. The CAPS Team will continue to provide information related to salaries, add items to our salary story, share letters from our membership, and continue to add options throughout this bargaining round.

CA Coastal Management Agency Chairs Letter Shared. The CAPS Team shared a January 2019 letter to Governor Gavin Newsom and CalHR from three California Coastal Management Agency Chairs: R. Zachary Wasserman, Chair of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission; Douglas Bosco, Chair of the California State Coastal Conservancy; and Dayna Bochco, Chair of the California Coastal Commission. The letter urged the Governor to consider geographically disparate pay structures for employees throughout the State and also provided compelling reasons why geographic pay is needed in California. You can view the letter here.

Discussions Regarding High Cost of Living. As mentioned, this week’s IBB session focused mostly on the high cost of living in California. The CAPS Team gave a presentation on the Federal Locality Pay structure that already exists for California and provided examples of the impacts of working in high-cost areas has on members. CalHR and the CAPS Team discussed what each group’s interests are with respect to the high cost of living in California. Notably, CAPS and CalHR had mostly mutual interests. For example, both CalHR and CAPS have an interest in improving the recruitment and retention of State Scientists; ensuring a stable workforce; reducing the emissions contributing to climate change; increasing diversity within the unit; maintaining regional offices; and helping the State become the employer of choice in high-cost regions for highly skilled, qualified scientists.

Potential Options Discussed. Adhering to the IBB process, the teams discussed possible options that centered around providing a geographic pay (Geo Pay) differential to counties and locations where scientists work with a high cost of living. A range of options were discussed, from following the federal locality pay model to focusing on offices with recruitment and retention issues due to the high cost of living. It was clear the State remains concerned with implementing any financial items prior to 2022.

Discussion Surrounding Positional Proposals. During the last meeting, the CAPS Team provided CalHR with 13 proposals for rollovers or changes to existing sections of the CAPS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). CalHR requested more information, background, and clarification for some of the proposals the CAPS Team submitted during past meetings, and Tentatively Agreed to six of them. Additionally, due to the virtual nature of Bargaining, a confirmation of the rollover sections previously Tentatively Agreed to from October 14th was read aloud for the record.

Department of Finance (DOF) Representative Confirms Loop Outs. A portion of each bargaining session has been dedicated to a “loop in” and “loop out” session, to facilitate better communications between CalHR and the CAPS Team on what information is being shared with their constituents, and the feedback both parties are receiving. During this week’s “loop in” session, a DOF supervisor confirmed that they were familiar with the discussions and information shared at the Bargaining Table, thanks to the loop outs the CalHR Team’s DOF representative has been providing.

Member Letters Shared. The CAPS Team has been asking for your support in writing letters so the Administration can hear directly from the union membership on the impacts of the Unit’s salary inequity. The letters received so far have detailed the salary-related issues you and your colleagues face each and every day, the impacts to your programs and your agencies’ abilities to meet their missions and recruit and retain scientists. This week, the CAPS Team shared more member letters with CalHR. The letters were from members from the following Departments: Central Valley Flood Protection Board; California Department of Pesticide Regulation; California Department of Food and Agriculture; and the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. You can review them here. You can help by submitting your own letters to .

Contact Tracing Bilingual Pay Meet-and-Confer Scheduled. Several weeks ago, the CAPS Team passed a counterproposal surrounding a bilingual pay differential for employees currently redirected to Contact Tracing duties. CalHR notified CAPS that since the item was potentially retroactive to CAPS’ expired (but still in effect) MOU, the item needed to be negotiated outside the current negotiations for a successor agreement. As such, a separate Meet-and-Confer has been scheduled for mid-December. Stay tuned.

Next Meeting Scheduled for December. Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, the CAPS Team will next meet with CalHR during the first week of December. Please consider assisting the CAPS Team in their efforts by writing letters to CalHR and submitting them to CAPS () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR.  Find more information about this request here.

November 17, 2020

Looping In. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met again with CalHR to continue discussions surrounding the most important topic for CAPS, salaries. The day began with a discussion, coined a “loop-in,” where CalHR and CAPS shared feedback from each other’s constituents after the last meeting. CAPS shared a grassroots letter, signed by more than 225 State Scientists from throughout the State, that had been sent directly to the Governor. As it turns out, the letter had already been shared with our CalHR representative by their management. One phrase seemed to strike a chord with CalHR – the letter states that the “CalHR Bargaining Team continues to ‘plead poverty’.” While the financial outlook has changed since January, State Scientists’ salary lags have not changed, nor has the need to address the Unit’s salary lags.

CalHR’s loop-in informed the CAPS Team that the information shared about our Unit’s historical vertical and horizontal salary structure is currently being evaluated by CalHR. The CAPS Team is pleased CalHR is more engaged and offered to assist CalHR in the review.

During the loop-in, the CAPS Team asked whether Governor Newsom is aware of our salary lag and if the CalHR team has shared information with him about recruitment and retention issues facing Agencies that employ State Scientists. While the CalHR representatives could not confirm the information had reached the Governor, they stated that information shared during each bargaining session is being shared with the appropriate Administration Officials – the Director of CalHR and the Director of the Department of Finance, who attend higher-level Administration meetings.

More Options. CAPS and CalHR again tried to identify options that would satisfy the interests of both parties. Of note, CalHR presented vacancy rate numbers for Energy Commission Specialists and Energy Analysts, positions at the California Energy Commission. They noted vacancy rates for these Unit 10 classifications have been above the State standard for several years.This served as more evidence to the CAPS Team that the CalHR Total Comp Report is flawed because it generalizes information and tends to miss critical issues within the Unit. CAPS, as a unit, is much too diverse to fit into the Total Comp Report survey design and criteria.

The CAPS Team added additional and more specific salary options, including salary increases required to correct the historical salary relationships as has been presented by the CAPS Team. CalHR found the numbers staggering, especially when facing pandemic budget concerns. The CAPS Team noted several counterpoints: that while the percentages may seem large, past Administrations did not address the Unit’s salary lag which has exacerbated the problem; that CAPS is a smaller unit, so the real dollar amounts are smaller than what would be needed to provide significantly lower percentage increases to other units; if the Administration doesn’t address the Unit’s salary lag, these pay lags will only continue to grow, and become more costly; and finally, that money shouldn’t be the only consideration.

The CAPS Team continues to hear from CalHR that money – not necessarily science nor equity – is the driving interest for the Administration. The CAPS Team continues to emphasize that there is a cost to the people and State of California if the salary lags are not addressed: scientific programs, Departments, and Agencies will be unable to fulfill their mission which will have long-term and costly consequences.

Proposals Passed. Per CAPS previous bargaining updates, CAPS and CalHR are using a “hybrid bargaining model” in this round of bargaining, and as such, some proposals are being passed in the traditional positional bargaining method. During last week’s meeting, CAPS passed 13 proposals on a variety of Memorandum of Understanding sections. You can view the proposals here.

Overall Sentiment. For the first time, CalHR seemed to be more willing to engage in a conversation about the Unit’s salary issues. CAPS and CalHR had meaningful discussions where it was evident that CalHR wants to better understand “CAPS’ perspective,” which is refreshing since these open discussions hadn’t occurred in past rounds of bargaining for many years. While there was consequential dialogue, CalHR once again declined to agree that the Unit has salary lags. The CAPS Team will meet again with CalHR this week. Please consider writing letters to CalHR and submitting them to CAPS () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR. Find more information about this request here.

Other Important Items of Note:

FlexElect Medical Reimbursement Account (MRA) and Dependent Care Reimbursement Account (DCRA). The deadline for State Scientists to make a one-time mid-year enrollment change to their MRA and/or DCRA elections for the 2020 plan year has passed. However, any employees who previously cancelled or reduced their election to $0 will have until November 30, 2020, to amend their prior election to the minimum amount ($10 per month) if they wish to do so. Employees who do not amend their prior elections will only be eligible to incur expenses until the cancellation effective date for the MRA or until December 31, 2020 for the DCRA.

More information is available under the National Emergency Relief and Guidelines for Employee Benefit Plans. In order to make changes for the 2021 plan year, employees will need to experience a permitting event. A list of permitting events can be found here: FlexElect Program Permitting Event Codes/Dates Chart.

Currently, IRS guidelines prohibit retroactive election changes or refunds of remaining balances in an MRA and/or DCRA for the 2020 plan year. If there is any change to the IRS policy, CAPS will share that with members.

Member needs Your Help. Longtime CAPS Member and Local Rep, Beverly Hill, has requested catastrophic leave donations in order to continue receiving pay and benefits. Section 3.10 of the CAPS MOU allows transfer of leave credits as catastrophic leave: CTO, Personal Leave, Annual Leave, Vacation, Personal Day, and/or Holiday Credit. If donating Personal Holidays, they must be donated in whole-day increments per the donating employee’s time base. All other donations must be made in a minimum of one-hour (1.00) increments. Sick leave cannot be donated. If you are able to donate time, please fill out this form and submit it to your Department’s Personnel Specialist.

November 3, 2020

How You Can Be Involved:  Last week the CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) asked for your help to achieve our salary goals by having the Administration hear directly from you, the union membership, by writing a letter to the Administration.  We have already started receiving letters and want to thank those members for taking the time to make their voices heard.  The CAPS Team will share these letters with CalHR at our next Bargaining Session on November 12th, where the CAPS Team will continue presenting on the impacts of the salary inequities on California and Unit 10 Scientists.  If you have time, please consider writing letters to the Administration and submitting them to CAPS () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR.  Find more information about this request here.

CAPS supports member-led efforts to make our voices heard, because the members are the union, and our power is greatest when we stand united together.

  • A CAPS Local Rep, Sammantha Mello, has created a Change.Org petition, demanding from Governor Newsom equitable pay for State Scientists, and highlights the importance of the work State Scientists perform.  If you’d like to read and sign Ms. Mello’s petition, click here.

Be an Informed Member: Bargaining, The Basics. Part 5: The History of CAPS.

The California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS) formed in 1984 as an independent union by State Scientists, for State Scientists, with the premise that we can best represent the unique interests of State Scientists.

At first, Unit 10 was part of a conglomerate union that represented tens of thousands of state employees in nearly a dozen bargaining units.  But soon those early leaders observed that State Scientists’ collective voice was drowned out by the voices of larger bargaining units in the conglomerate.  State Scientists voted to form their own union and established CAPS as their exclusive representative.

That is why CAPS represents State Scientists and only State Scientists in the workplace, in the Legislature, and, when necessary, in the courts.  CAPS has always bargained for equitable and competitive salaries, battled to protect pension and health benefits, and defended members’ rights to continued state employment.

CAPS is committed to three leading principles:

Professionalism:  CAPS is committed to helping individual scientists fulfill their professional needs as members of the world community of science and occupational responsibilities to the State of California and its residents.

Independence:  CAPS members and its leaders are pledged to pursuing professional, scientific courses of action without regard to political influences.

Professional advocacy:  CAPS takes a firm but responsible approach to representing its members in legislative matters, contract bargaining, and individual personnel actions.

Backed by the collective power of California State Scientists, CAPS will always bargain for fair and equitable pay, improved benefits, and other enhanced terms of employment for Unit 10 employees.

Other Important Items of Note: 

CAPSule on the Web.  The October issue of CAPSule is posed on the CAPS Website. Access it here.

October 27, 2020

Bargaining Team Meetings Continue.  The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met last week with CalHR, where both teams again discussed Government Code (GC) 19826; identified separate and mutual “interests,” and began to come up with “options,” or potential solutions to the salary issue.  The Department of Finance representative gave an update on the State Budget and the budget process, as well.

CAPS Team Shares Agency Secretaries’ Request.  The CAPS Team shared copies of letters that had been sent to the Director of CalHR, Eraina Ortega, written by the Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, Wade Crowfoot, and the Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, Jared Blumenfeld, requesting that CalHR work with Bargaining Unit 10 to create a new bargaining agreement that secures equitable compensation for State Scientists.  These letters emphasize the vital work State Scientists perform, how recruiting and retaining talented scientists is essential to their agencies’ missions, and outlines how Unit 10’s salary inequities are negatively impacting the agency’s ability to meet their mission statement.

Discussions Surround Application of GC 19826.  The CAPS Team revisited part of last week’s conversation, requesting that a clarification be made for the record on CalHR’s insinuation that Government Code (GC) 19826 applies only to excluded employees, and does not extend to Rank and File.  The CAPS Team explained that State government codes apply to state government, and therefore all state service civil employees, including Rank and File.

At issue was the language in GC 19826 subsection (a), which states, in part “The department shall establish and adjust salary ranges for each class of position in the state civil service subject to any merit limits contained in Article VII of the California Constitution. The salary range shall be based on the principle that like salaries shall be paid for comparable duties and responsibilities. In establishing or changing these ranges, consideration shall be given to the prevailing rates for comparable service in other public employment and in private business. . .” and GC 19826 subsection (b), which states “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the department shall not establish, adjust, or recommend a salary range for any employees in an appropriate unit where an employee organization has been chosen as the exclusive representative pursuant to [Government Code] Section 3520.5.”

The discussion ended in agreement that GC 19826(a) does apply to Rank and File State employees, and GC 19826(b) simply reflects that the State must collectively bargain with the appropriate employee union to establish, adjust or recommend salary ranges, pursuant to the Dills Act.  In addition, GC 19826 subsection (d) states that if provisions of the GC are in conflict with any provisions of an MOU, the MOU is the controlling document.  So the fact remains that GC 19826 does inherently apply to Rank and File, and not just to excluded employees, which CalHR acknowledged.

Department of Finance Presents.  Last Bargaining Session the CAPS Team asked the Department of Finance (DOF) representative to go over the budget timeline and process, and answer preliminary questions the CAPS Team had on the budget.  DOF discussed budgeting timelines, the current outlook for next year’s budget, and outside factors that could potentially change the budgetary outlook (e.g., Federal funding).  DOF stressed the need for tempered expectations, as a large budget deficit is still predicted for next fiscal year, though some factors, like the federal election, could potentially result in additional stimulus monies that could change the State’s financial forecast.  The DOF has begun working on the 2021-2022 FY budget, but it will not be released until January 10, 2021.  After taxes are due (April 15), DOF will work on updating the budget for the May Revise.  The CAPS Team asked several questions, including whether the employee compensation line item had been budgeted, to which DOF replied it was too early for that.  The CAPS Team also asked what the Administration’s priorities are for next fiscal year and who decides what they are.  DOF informed CAPS that the governor’s priorities are generally reflected in the budget and for Governor Newsom, those have historically been homelessness, housing, education, and wildfires.  However, even after asking, the CAPS Team did not hear that science was a clear priority for the budget.  The DOF representative also clarified that the higher-level discussions surrounding the budget involve the Director of Finance, Keely Bosler.  The DOF bargaining representative’s duties are to ensure that information from CAPS’ bargaining sessions are shared with those, like Director Bosler, who attend those budget meetings.

Teams Identified Interests.  The CAPS Team and CalHR identified and shared their separate and mutual interests with regard to salaries.  Both teams identified a host of mutual interests, including: ensuring California environmental and public health agencies are able to fulfill their missions; improving the morale and productivity of Rank and File State Scientists; and recognizing the high level of expertise that is required of all Unit 10 scientists, especially in classes that require advanced degrees and/or licenses.  However, of note were the separate interests identified.

CalHR’s team identified the State’s separate interests, including: considering the fiscal situation, ensuring employees are working within their classification, and ensuring that the State is able to recruit employees who can deal with serious environmental and public health and safety issues.

The CAPS Team identified several union-interests, including: being valued the same as our engineers and supervising counterparts; making the State an employer of choice for scientists; preventing the loss of institutional knowledge; and minimizing project delays related to turn-over, among others.  It was striking that these union interests were not considered mutual interests by the State.

Collective Team Identifies Potential Options.  As one team, CAPS and CalHR began to identify “options” that could potentially satisfy the interests of one or both parties.  During this process for Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB), different options are listed without evaluating or agreeing to them.  The options identified ranged from pay parity in 2020 to raises deferred beyond 2022, with a variety of other options in-between to address the issue.  Unlike positional bargaining there are no formal proposals passed between parties while identifying initial options.  After options are exhausted, the next step is for the teams to jointly work to whittle down the options and begin to evaluate their plausibility for inclusion in a final agreement.  CalHR has noted that the Director and other Administration management will need to be apprised of the options prior to the start of the evaluation process.  This is not typical of the IBB process and will likely shift the process towards a more positional approach.

Looking Forward.  The CAPS Team will not meet with CalHR again until mid-November to continue bargaining for State Scientist salaries and a successor MOU.  But in the meantime, we need your help to achieve our salary goals.  The CAPS Team will continue presenting on the impacts of salary inequity for State Scientists, but the Administration also needs to hear it directly from the union membership.  If you have time, please consider writing letters to CalHR and submitting them to CAPS () to be reviewed and shared with CalHR.  Find more information about this request here.

As always, please continue to share your thoughts with the Bargaining Team by emailing CAPS () or submitting proposals via the template available to members here.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

October 20, 2020

Busy Week in Bargaining.  Last week’s Bargaining Session covered a lot of ground.  Topics of discussion included Unit 10 salaries, CalHR’s policies, the Like Pay for Like Work (LPLW) Lawsuit for State Scientist supervisors, and Government Code 19826 – the violation of which prompted the 2008 LPLW suit.  The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) and CalHR (representing Governor Newsom’s administration) also reviewed a possible side letter agreement regarding contact tracing and bilingual pay.

Unit 10 Salaries.  The parties continued the discussion about the history of Unit 10 salary relationships.  The CAPS Team once again emphasized that despite the break in the historical vertical and horizontal compensation relationships within Unit 10 and between Unit 10 and Unit 9, nothing has changed in the duties or responsibilities of these classifications.  The State expects similar work, but has not provided similar compensation.  During the salary history discussion, the CAPS Team made a point of sharing with CalHR a letter that was sent to CAPS by State Scientists working in DTSC’s Safer Consumer Products program.  You can review their letter here.

CalHR More Active in Last Week’s Bargaining Session.  As the salary discussions continued, CalHR was more engaged and there was a more contentious feeling at the table.  While they still did not acknowledge the salary lag, they did acknowledge that there has been a disruption in terms of CAPS’ historical salary relationships among classes throughout Unit 10.  However, CalHR took issue with CAPS’ perception and/or insinuation that the State failed to apply the LPLW lawsuit and decision to Rank and File scientists, rather than simply following the ruling.  The CAPS Team agreed that the State had followed the ruling, but not the spirit and intent of the suit; that the same LPLW argument also applies for Rank and File employees, especially since the case was based on a study of work performed by both Excluded and Rank and File scientists.  CalHR stated the State was under no obligation to adjust the Rank and File salaries due to the LPLW decision and implementation.  In response, the CAPS Team highlighted CalHR’s Internal Salary Relationships Statement on their website that indicates CalHR looks at both the horizontal and vertical relationships when considering salary adjustments.  The CAPS Team also contended that by avoiding the issue for this long, the historical disruption has created real, tangible, unsettling effects both in and outside of state service for State Scientists, state departments, and for the State’s stakeholders and citizens.

Although the CAPS Team spent several hours last week rebuking, debunking, and disproving the utility of the Total Compensation (Total Comp) Report, CalHR continued to rely on cherry-picked data from the Total Comp Report.  The CAPS Team will continue to call out the inconsistencies and flaws in the Total Comp Report.  To read last week’s Bargaining Update about the Total Comp Report please click here.

Though CalHR was more vocal at the table this week, they primarily reiterated their concerns about costs.  CalHR emphasized the amount of funds required if they were to agree to restore historical salary relationships among Unit 10 classifications.  The CAPS Team emphasized that past Administrations have not addressed the Unit’s salary lags, and the costs may seem significant, but it does not take into account the unaccounted cost to the State – which are also significant – if the issue is not addressed.  Further, the vital work State Scientists do protecting California will suffer and have long term and costly consequences.  As CalHR continues to focus primarily on costs, the CAPS Team is starting to question if science is actually a priority for the current administration.

“Hybrid” Bargaining Model.  CalHR stated the type of bargaining CAPS and CalHR are participating in appears to be a hybrid model, of both positional and interest-based bargaining (IBB), and not an exclusively IBB model.  The CAPS Team agreed, as not all Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) sections will be discussed using the IBB process, and some have already begun to be bargained via the positional model – i.e. the rollovers discussed in last week’s emails, as well as this week’s side letter agreement proposal, passed by the CAPS Team.

Proposal for Contact Tracers.  Last week, the CAPS Team passed a formal proposal to CalHR for a side letter agreement to secure bilingual pay for State Scientists who use that skill while temporarily redirected to Contact Tracing.  The proposal also aimed to codify for future considerations many of the processes already in place concerning Contact Tracing work.  You can read the proposal here.

More Rollovers Passed.  The CAPS Team passed a counter-proposal for eight rollovers, including some sections with “clean up” language to ensure the MOU language is gender-neutral, wherever possible.

This Week.  The CAPS Team plans to meet with CalHR again this week to continue bargaining for State Scientists’ salaries.  As always, please continue to share your thoughts with the Bargaining Team by emailing CAPS () or submitting proposals via the template available to members here.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President
Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President
Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director
Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director
David Rist
CAPS District IV Director
Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Be an Informed Membership: Bargaining, The Basics.  Part 4: Bargaining Methods.

For decades, CalHR and employee unions have used “positional bargaining” to reach new labor agreements.  To illustrate this method, imagine two people want the same orange.  Positional bargaining might lead to one individual taking the entire orange or dividing the orange so that each person receives half.

This simple example shows how positional bargaining produces win-lose or zero-sum outcomes.  The bargaining parties are adversaries.  They stake out their positions (what they want) and then engage in trade-offs.  Each side focuses on “winning” what they want and assumes those victories require the other side “losing” what they want.  In positional bargaining, compromise comes from “give and take” negotiation to meet at a midpoint — and often leaves both sides unsatisfied.

This year, CAPS and CalHR agreed to engage in a different approach called interest-based bargaining (IBB).  This method requires both sides to consider the reasons for positions and encourages creative win-win outcomes through collaboration.

During this round of collective bargaining, the CAPS Bargaining Team concluded IBB may be a more effective method for bargaining a successor MOU.  The CAPS Team presented the idea to CalHR, which accepted CAPS’ offer.  So IBB, instead of traditional methods that can be more adversarial, is setting the tone for many of the sections to be discussed for contract bargaining.

October 13, 2020

Doctorate level SMEs Present.  The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR again last week to continue bargaining a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); again focusing on CAPS’ long-standing salary lags.  These discussions build upon the previous session, which focused on our “Master’s Level” Benchmark Classification, Research Scientist III, and the meeting prior which focused on the “Bachelor’s Level” Benchmark Classification, Environmental Scientist, where Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) gave presentations.  You can view these previous SME presentations on the CAPS website here.

Last week’s meeting featured our “Doctorate” and “Doctor of Veterinary Medicine” Benchmark Classifications, Staff Toxicologist and Veterinarian, respectively.  These classifications represent Unit 10 classifications where the minimum educational requirement is a doctorate degree.  Two CAPS members served as SMEs and made presentations: Dr. Valerie Hanley (Staff Toxicologist [Specialist]- DTSC, Sacramento) and Dr. Edie Marshall (Veterinarian [Specialist] – CDFA, Sacramento).  Their presentations focused on their extensive education, the high level of consequence of their duties, the critical work they do for the State, and why fair salaries are essential to ensuring that the State can successfully recruit and retain experienced scientists, which it cannot do at current salary levels or ranges.

CAPS Team Presents.  The SME presentations were complimented by presentations from the CAPS Team that focused on the internal horizontal and vertical salary relationships that existed prior to implementing the Like Pay for Like Work (LPLW) decision in July of 2014.  The CAPS Team reiterated how the narrow application of the LPLW decision, and the more recent Special Salary Adjustment (SSA) for select Toxicologist Supervisory Classifications in 2018, further disrupted the internal salary relationships and necessitate a Unit-wide salary adjustment.

The CAPS Team also presented salary data for similar positions in State service, local government, federal government, and the private sector, to demonstrate the large salary lags and why the State has difficulty attracting and retaining the scientific talent it needs.  The CAPS Team emphasized that State Scientists are the behind-the-scenes heroes protecting Californian’s health, food supply, and critical natural resources, and that if the Administration does value and wants to prioritize science, this means investing in State Scientists and addressing CAPS’ long standing salary lags now.

CalHR SMEs Present.  Six months prior to bargaining, the State is legally required to develop a Total Compensation Report (Total Comp Report), per Government Code 19826 and the annual Budget Act, to compare state employees’ total compensation with comparable occupations in the private and public sector.  CAPS, and other unions, did not have input on how this Total Comp Report is developed.  CalHR had SMEs from their Economic Research Division present and explain their Total Comp Report as it pertains to Unit 10.  The CAPS Team pointed out to CalHR that the Total Comp Report is deeply flawed and should not be the basis when considering Unit 10’s salary issues. In particular, the CAPS team highlighted several issues and questions of concern, including but not limited to:

  • How and why was the data selected, used, and analyzed;
  • Why certain “occupational groups” were selected and why Unit 10 classifications that do different work, and have vastly different minimal education requirements, were assigned to these groupings;
  • Why years of experience was not included;
  • Why supervisory classifications were included, given contract negotiations only cover rank-and-file employees;
  • Why a median salary comparison, rather than a mean, mode, or a 95% upper confidence limit of the mean salary comparison, was used;
  • Why the lack of standard deviations or other estimates of salary variability further limits comparisons, especially between groups with different minimal educational requirements and years of experience;
  • Why only private sector employers with at least 500 employees was used;
  • Why there was not a federal government comparable classification for Epidemiologists;
  • Why the Total Comp Report lacked comparable private and federal sector jobs in the Sacramento Region for all occupational groups, yet more than 50% of State Scientists work in Sacramento;
  • Why the Total Comp Report lacked comparable University of California and other academic classifications.

The CAPS Team made it clear to CalHR the Total Comp Report has significant flaws, and cannot be relied on as a basis for determining Unit 10 salary lags.  The Total Comp Report is also missing key data and information needed for CAPS to repeat and verify CalHR’s findings.  While CalHR did not agree that the report was deeply flawed, they did agree that the Total Comp Report is limited in scope.  Additionally, CalHR recognized that the requirement to look at internal salary relationships is codified in Government Code 19826, and requested CAPS provide them the salary comparison data from CAPS presentations.  The CalHR Team again remained silent on the Unit 10 salary lags and did not provide any acknowledgement, verbal or otherwise, that there is a serious salary issue for Unit 10, and once again brought up the current financial situation.  The CAPS Team emphasized the clear equal or greater cost to the State if the compensation issues are not fixed now, then the vital work State Scientists do protecting California will suffer and have long term and costly consequences.

More Rollovers Shared with CAPS.  Finally, CalHR sent CAPS another list of Rollover Sections they propose be maintained in the next contract.  The CAPS Team is currently reviewing CalHR’s list and will respond to it at the next meeting.

Looking Forward.  CAPS and CalHR will next meet on October 14th where both teams will continue to discuss salaries.  Additionally, CAPS will be discussing a proposed side letter to ensure members redirected to Contact Tracing can qualify for Bilingual Pay.  Please continue to share your thoughts with the Bargaining Team by emailing CAPS ().

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President
Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President
Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director
Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director
David Rist
CAPS District IV Director
Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Be an Informed Membership: Bargaining, The Basics. Part 3: The Bureaucracy 

For nearly four decades, California state government rank-and-file employees have collectively bargained for wages, hours, and other terms of employment.  For 30 years, the Department of Personnel Administration represented the State.  Now the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) fulfills that role.

CalHR is the governor’s de facto personnel branch.  As a “control department,” it develops human resources policies for the State workforce under gubernatorial control and enforces those policies.  It also leads the State’s Bargaining Team, which comprises staff from departments that employ Unit 10 employees, depending on the bargaining agenda.

The state Department of Finance (DOF) also sends representatives to the table.  DOF is the governor’s business accounting arm and, like CalHR, it is a control department.  It handles budgeting and financial forecasting for state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions – including personnel costs – and it has the power to approve or deny expenditures and conduct audits.  This authority gives DOF considerable influence over state spending, including allocations for employee salaries, health care, and retirement benefits.

Other Important Items of Note: 

CAPSule on the Website. The September issue of CAPSule is posed on the CAPS Website here.

October 6, 2020

Master’s Level SMEs Present. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR again last week to continue bargaining a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); salaries remain the focus of discussions.  The CAPS Team continued to focus on educating the new CalHR representatives on the long-standing Unit 10 salary lags, the impacts they are having on California’s scientific programs, and the urgent need to remedy the salary issue immediately.  The discussions built on our September 16th bargaining session, where our “Bachelor’s Level” Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) gave presentations.  All four presentations from that session can be viewed here.

Last week’s meeting featured our “Master’s Level” benchmark classification, Research Scientist III, which represents classifications within Unit 10 where the minimum educational requirement is a master’s degree.  Two CAPS members served as SMEs and made presentations: Hilary Rosen (Research Scientist III – California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Los Angeles), and Jason Van Court (Research Scientist III – Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) Sacramento).  Their presentations focused on the extensive training and experience they acquired prior to entering state service, the vital work they perform protecting California’s public health – including their work on California’s COVID-19 pandemic response – and the serious impacts the on-going salary lags are having at their workplaces (e.g. decreased morale, a sense of being expendable, departures to higher paying jobs, etc.).  They also highlighted how they, as Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)-exempt employees, do not receive compensation for the many hours of overtime they have worked on the state’s COVID-19 response.  In spite of all of this, they also expressed a real appreciation and dedication for their jobs and emphasized how critical their work is for California’s citizens.  A video of their presentations will be available soon.

During our next bargaining session, CAPS will focus on our final benchmark classifications, Staff Toxicologist and Veterinarians, to represent the “Doctorate Level” and “Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Level” benchmark.

CAPS Team Presents, As Well.  Presentations by the CAPS Team focused on educating CalHR on some of the highly specialized classifications within Unit 10 and further explaining the internal horizontal salary relationships that existed prior to implementing the Like Pay for Like Work (LPLW) decision in July of 2014. For approximately 30 years prior to 2014, salaries between all classifications within Unit 10 related to each other, based on the minimum education requirement for a classification, the level of responsibility required, and experience and technical expertise.  However, these internal salary relationships have remained broken ever since the last administration adjusted salaries for supervisors and managers in certain classifications pursuant to the LPLW court finding that similar work requires similar pay.

In addition to highlighting the disrupted internal salary relationships between classifications, the CAPS Team also presented salary comparisons between Unit 10 Research Scientists and their Federal counterparts.  This effectively demonstrated the large salary lag that exists with other equivalent public sector scientists and why the state has difficulty attracting and retaining the scientific talent it needs.  In addition to being paid much less than their Federal counterparts, a majority of the “Master’s Level” classifications work in high-cost areas of the state, such as our scientists who work at the CDPH Richmond Campus.  These scientists, along with many other Unit 10 scientists who work in high-cost areas, do not receive geographic pay; whereas all Federal employees do.  Geographic pay is an Interest Based Bargaining (IBB) topic and will be discussed in depth at future meetings.

The CAPS Team also emphasized how Work Week Group E (FLSA-exempt) was not created for months- or years-long emergency situations, but rather as a way to handle the ebb and flow of day to day work fluctuations.  Some CAPS members have been routinely working well over 40 hours a week on emergency responses for extended periods of time and do not receive overtime like employees in other non-Work Week Group E classifications.  This is another IBB topic for discussion at future meetings.

The CAPS Team also continued to add to our salary story, by emphasizing the vital work State Scientists perform, the educational and technical expertise requirements within our Unit and the critical need for experienced State Scientists.  The CAPS Team also presented anecdotal information we hear from our members regarding recruitment and retention issues and how it negatively impacts the programs in which they work.

CalHR’s Contributions.  While CalHR’s Team listened to the presentations, and asked questions of the presenters; their contributions to the story were minimal. The CalHR Team remained silent on the Unit 10 salary lag and didn’t provide any formal acknowledgement, verbal or otherwise, that there is a serious salary issue in Unit 10.  Finally, CalHR’s Team stated again that the State expects a multi-year deficit, and that new projections on the state’s budget likely will not be released until January 2021.

Roll Overs.  Finally, both teams made progress toward a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by approving a packet of 49 sections of the contract that would remain the same, or roll over.  You can view the list of rolled over sections here.

Be an Informed Membership: Bargaining, The Basics. Part 2: 

The imbalance of power between government employers and employees sparked a law that gave California’s local- and regional-government employees the right to organize and collectively bargain in 1968.  The Ralph C. Dills Act granted similar rights to rank-and-file state employees in 1977.

Before that, the California Legislature decided what to spend on state workforce salaries and benefits with no employee input.  State employers addressed workplace inadequacies only if managers agreed the concerns had merit.  Federal laws and the State civil service system provided some protections against employer abuses.  However, it was (and still is) challenging for an individual, alone, to navigate the process to protect themselves.

The Dills Act contains language that explains the law’s intention to create a more balanced system between state government and its employees:

  •  “… to promote full communication between the state and its employees by providing a reasonable method of resolving disputes … “
  • “… to promote the improvement of personnel management and employer-employee relations … by providing a uniform basis for recognizing the right of state employees to join organizations of their own choosing and be represented by those organizations … “
  • “…to foster peaceful employer-employee relations …”

Following several legal challenges, the Dills Act went into effect in 1981. Today, it continues to provide state employees a vital collective voice in their service to California.  CAPS is that voice for state scientists.  Our employer – the State of California – has a tremendous amount of power, but we can match that with people power of the union.  So, please help keep your union strong by committing to CAPS membership today!

In Solidarity,
CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus, Chair
CAPS President
Daniel Ellis
CAPS Vice President
Maureen Lee-Dutra
CAPS District II Director
Justin D. Garcia
CAPS District III Director
David Rist
CAPS District IV Director
Jimmy Spearow
CAPS At-Large Director

Other Important Updates.

Board of Directors’ Meeting Minutes Posted. Board of Directors’ Meeting Minutes Posted. The Draft Minutes from the August 22, 2020 Board of Directors’ Meeting are posted on the CAPS Website. View them here.

September 23, 2020

CAPS Starts With History. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR last week to resume bargaining on CAPS’ highest-priority issue, salaries.  The CAPS Team focused on educating the new Administration on our historical salary relationships, long standing salary lags, and how the break in these vertical and horizontal salary relationships have drastically impacted State Scientists.  This history, the impacts to California’s scientific programs, and the urgent need to remedy the salary lag immediately will be presented over several joint bargaining sessions in the upcoming weeks.  There are 81 classifications in our unit, so the CAPS Team is using “benchmark classifications” to represent all State Scientists within Unit 10.  These classifications were selected based on the minimal educational requirement and job-required responsibilities to reflect the complexity of the myriad of Unit 10 classifications.  Using benchmark classifications makes it easier for CalHR to understand the structure of our Unit, the specialized work State Scientists perform, and how the salary inequities affect State Scientists across all classifications.

The Presentations. The first of the benchmark classification is the Environmental Scientist (ES) series that represents classifications where the minimal educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree.  The CAPS Team invited four CAPS members to serve as Subject Matter Experts (SME): Dr. Simona Balan (Sr. ES (Specialist) – DTSC Berkeley); Dr. Chuck Striplen (ES – RWQCB – Sonoma); Esther Burkett (Sr. ES (Specialist) – CDFW Sacramento); and Tom Lanphar (Sr. ES (Specialist) – DTSC Berkeley). Each SME presented their job duties, their technical expertise, and why their scientific work is invaluable to California.  The presentations also highlighted the historical salary relationship and job duties between Environmental Scientists and Environmental Engineers in Unit 9, and the historical salary relationship and job duties between Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialists) and Senior Environmental Scientist (Supervisors).

The presentations by the CAPS Team focused on the justification for and the success of the Like Pay for Like Work (LPLW) case, and the issues that have resulted from the 2014 salary adjustment for 75% of supervisory and managerial State Scientists.  The basis of the LPLW lawsuit was based on Government Code 19826 which states “like salaries shall be paid for comparable duties and responsibilities,” which justified the resulting wage adjustments for the State Scientist supervisors who performed substantially the same duties as their engineering counterparts.  The suit was not filed on behalf of rank-and-file scientists, despite the data showing that job duties were the same for rank-and-file scientists and environmental engineers as well, due to the Dill’s Act which precluded the legal grounds to file suit.

The SME presentations also focused on the relationship between the two Senior Environmental Scientist parentheticals, where the SMEs emphasized the high-level of responsibility and technical expertise required for the class and the impact of the salary inequities.  The Senior Environmental Scientist (Specialist) and the Senior Environmental (Supervisor) classifications had been established as peer classes (one technical and one supervisory), which was reemphasized during the 2013 Environmental Scientist classification series update and class consolidation.  By adjusting salaries only for supervisors, and refusing to extend similar raises to rank-and-file in subsequent bargaining rounds, the previous Administration disrupted the long-standing horizontal relationship with the peer Specialist level and the vertical relationship with the supervisee ES level.  This created a perception that the Specialist parenthetical was no longer a peer class to the Supervisor parenthetical, and in essence demoted the Specialist level, which resulted in many departments restructuring reporting relationships, where many Specialists are now supervised by their peers.

The Discussion. CalHR listened as CAPS presented the Unit 10 salary history and asked clarifying questions, but CalHR did not indicate if the Administration agrees that there are salary lags or what those lags are.  After the presentations, CalHR and the CAPS Team continued our Interest Based Bargaining discussions to further develop the “story” for salary equity.  Though CalHR’s contributions to the story were limited, they state that another budget deficit is likely next fiscal year.  Both sides acknowledged that attempting to remedy the Unit 10 salary inequity in the midst of a pandemic and an economic recession will require developing more creative solutions.

CAPS and CalHR also discussed roll over proposals and general logistics regarding bargaining in a virtual format.  Roll overs are sections of the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that, if agreed to, would remain unchanged from our previous contract MOU.  One such proposal is Section 9.7, Formal Grievance – Step 1.

Moving Forward. At the next bargaining session CAPS will focus on the next benchmark classification, Research Scientist III, to represent the “Master’s Level.”   The “Bachelor’s Level” SME presentations will be posted on the CAPS website next week.

Be an Informed Membership: Bargaining, The Basics. Part 1: The Dills Act. 

The year was 1977.  Apple produced the first pre-assembled, mass-produced personal computer.  The first “Star Wars” movie broke box office records.  The space shuttle Enterprise passed its first flight test.

And for the first time, California state employees gained the right to organize with the enactment of the Ralph C. Dills Act.  The Legislature passed the law, which aimed to level the playing field between the government employer and its workforce by:

  • Granting rank-and-file employees the right to form, to join, to be represented by, and to participate in employee unions.
  • Creating processes for determining wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment for rank-and-file, supervisory and managerial employees.
  • Outlining good-faith rights and procedures, including full bargaining rights for rank-and-file employees.
  • Providing representational rights for supervisors and managers, but not full bargaining rights.
  • Creating the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) to oversee compliance with the Dills Act.

The Dills Act allowed State Scientists to form the California Association of Professional Scientists as their exclusive representative for Bargaining Unit 10 employees.  That means only CAPS can bargain with the State of California for salaries, benefits, and working conditions for Unit 10 employees; enforce agreements with the State through the grievance process; and advocate for State Scientists’ occupational needs. The Dills Act made CAPS possible.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

September 1, 2020

Bargaining Continues. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR last week to set the agenda for future bargaining and come to agreement on which topics to bargain using the Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) process, since we cannot use the IBB process for every section of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The list of high-importance topics for consideration to use the IBB process includes, in no particular order: salaries; assignments to Incident Command Structures; Savings Plus Program; parental and family leave; retention of longtime employees; Alternate Range Criteria 40; educational pay; telework; return to work with consideration of COVID-19; geographical pay; California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on-call program; hazardous work; travel reimbursements; and Department of Water Resources (DWR) operational availability.  The CAPS Bargaining Survey helped the CAPS Team identify and prioritize topics and sections of the MOU that would benefit from using the IBB approach.

During the meeting, the CAPS Team and CalHR provided a high-level summary on the story and interests for each of the topics, and jointly prioritized which topics to discuss at the beginning of contract negotiations.  A facilitator trained in the IBB process helped guide the discussion.

The parties agreed to focus first on salaries, CAPS’ top priority. The additional topics above will tentatively be bargained using the IBB process after the salaries. Other topics and the remainder of the MOU will likely be negotiated using the traditional positional bargaining process.

The CAPS Team came away from the meeting knowing we face a challenging time at the bargaining table, given the current economic crisis.  CalHR repeatedly expressed an interest in ensuring the state stays “fiscally responsible.” In-depth discussions surrounding the above topics have not taken place yet.  The CAPS Team is preparing to provide CalHR with as much of the history and data as possible to effectively demonstrate the important work of CAPS Scientists, and CAPS’ history of salary inequities, both via presentations, and with support of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) from the membership.

The next joint meeting is scheduled for the third week in September. Stay tuned.

If you have any suggestions for changes or additions to the CAPS MOU that you’d like the CAPS Team to consider, please fill out the Bargaining Proposal Template and return it to .

Bargaining Updates are sent only to dues-paying CAPS Members. Encourage your nonmember colleagues to join today to ensure they, too, can stay informed.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

August 18, 2020

Bargaining Re-Commences. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR last week to resume bargaining for a successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to replace the currently in-effect but expired 2018-2020 MOU. This meeting served as an opportunity for the CAPS Team and CalHR Team to debrief and discuss the process used during negotiations for the 10% employee compensation reductions. While both Teams agreed the Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) model allowed for more open and frank discussions, they also agreed that the reductions criteria and time constraints forced bargaining to become positional. Both parties are eager to get back to the table and engage in IBB without the undue pressure of Legislatively-imposed deadlines. CAPS will be meeting with CalHR again the week of August 24th.

Bargaining Updates are sent only to dues-paying CAPS Members. Encourage your nonmember colleagues to join today to ensure they, too, can stay informed.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Other Important Updates.

Virtual Board of Directors’ Meeting Scheduled for Saturday. The August Board of Directors’ Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, August 22, 2020, commencing at 9 a.m. via Zoom. All CAPS Members are welcome to attend the open-door session. All attendees must pre-register for the open-door session here. In order to allow for efficient use of time, live member comments will not be accommodated. Instead, the CAPS Board of Directors is collecting member comments ahead of the meeting. You can submit your comments here. In order to ensure the most successful and productive meeting possible, attendees will be expected to abide by the Virtual Meeting Participant Expectations.

Worksite Meetings Before August 22nd Board of Directors’ Meeting. In advance of the Board of Directors’ Meeting, the CAPS Board of Directors will be hosting virtual “worksite” meetings to allow members a forum to hear from and ask questions of Board Members. The meeting will begin with a presentation by the Board covering recent events and the effects of the novel coronavirus (including bargaining for the Legislatively-required employee compensation reductions), and end with a Question and Answer session.

Due to scheduling considerations for members, and software limitations which allow a maximum of 1,000 attendees, multiple worksite meetings will be held during the week leading up to the Board of Directors’ Meeting. Worksite meetings will be held on Wednesday, August 19 (for members in Districts 1 [Southern CA] and 5 [Northern CA]), Thursday, August 20 (for members in Districts 2 [Central Valley] and 4 [Bay Area]), and Friday, August 21 (for members in District 3 [Sacramento]), from noon – 1 p.m. Members will need to pre-register to attend. Sign up here for Districts 1 and 5; here for Districts 2 and 4; and here for District 3. Attendees of the Virtual Worksite Meetings will be expected to abide by the Virtual Meeting Participant Expectations, as well.

Choose Unity. Choose Strength. Choose CAPS. 

July 1, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

The Results are In. The CAPS membership has overwhelmingly voted to APPROVE the CAPS COVID-19 Side Letter Agreement (Agreement).

THANK YOU to all members who participated in the vote. An agreement surrounding an economic downturn and employee compensation reductions is never something a union wishes to consider. CAPS recognizes that this was a difficult vote, no one wants to vote for reductions. However, voting allows you, the membership, a voice in how those reductions are realized. This vote saw a HISTORIC number of votes cast compared to other ratification elections. Of the 2,427 Rank-and-File members eligible to vote, 1,791 (73.8%) actually voted. Of those who voted, 1,692 voters (94.5%) voted to APPROVE the Agreement, while 99 voters (5.5%) voted to REJECT it.

Voting Results, Verified. Voting on the Agreement closed yesterday, June 30, 2020 at 1:00PM. The online vote was managed by a third-party, Simply Voting, who delivered both the electronic verification and results. You can view them here.

Next Steps. The Agreement ensures that State Scientists’ pay, pensions, and healthcare are secure, and that our benefits continue during the pandemic. Now, CAPS will return to the table to focus on other important issues. CAPS will continue to bargain for our successor Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and focus our negotiations on salaries. Other urgent and important issues will be discussed at the bargaining table as well, like safely returning to the workplace, telework, parental and family leave, travel reimbursements, and more.

Stay Involved! CAPS needs our unified membership to stay engaged and involved. During bargaining the Side Letter Agreement, the CAPS Bargaining Team received hundreds of member ideas and discussed many of them with CalHR. Please continue to send in suggestions to your CAPS Bargaining Team via the Bargaining Proposal Template or send comments directly to CAPS at .

Thank you once again for your engagement.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

June 26, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Thank you all for being an engaged membership! There have been many excellent questions about the Side Letter Agreement reached yesterday. Given the short timeline, the CAPS Bargaining Team felt it best to relay one of the most frequent questions we have received since voting opened this morning:

What does a “YES” vote mean? 

The total reductions to State Scientists’ take-home pay equate to a 5.93% reduction because the CAPS Bargaining Team negotiated offsets to reduce the impact from a 9.23% reduction down within this side letter agreement. More details are below:

  • You will receive 2 Personal Leave Program (PLP) days each month, with a 9.23% deduction in pay. The PLPs will be flexible, bankable, and may be cashed out upon retirement.
  • You will not pay into your post-retirement health benefits, “OPEB” (Other Post-Employment Benefits, or “CERBT” on your pay stub) for the duration of the PLP 2020 program. You currently pay 2.8% into OPEB. The state will continue to pay their share into the OPEB fund.
  • Your retirement contribution will be reduced by 0.5%. This reduction was going to take place July 2021. CAPS negotiated to have this reduction implemented sooner, in July 2020.
  • The 640-hour vacation/annual leave cap will be increased through June 2025.
  • “Re-opener” language regarding funding of the July 1, 2020 5% general salary increase (GSI).
  • The OPEB and retirement offsets total 3.3%, which means the 9.23% compensation reduction will actually be a 5.93% reduction.

What does a “NO” vote mean?

The Administration will impose on us measures they see fit to address the economic crisis caused from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

We have every reason to believe those measures will be 2 furlough days per month, starting in July 2020. You will be required to use these furlough days in the month they are accrued. No negotiated offsets will be included and you will experience a 9.23% reduction in pay. The Personal Leave Program’s flexibility, bankability, and ability to be cashed out will not be provided by the Administration’s imposition. Finally, there will be no language to allow CAPS the ability to discuss the future of the previously agreed-to 5% GSI.

Regardless of a “yes” or “no” vote, CAPS’ 5% GSI was not funded in the budget, so the pay raise will not occur whether the membership approves the side letter agreement or not. However, the side letter agreement includes “re-opener” language regarding the future funding of the 5% GSI.

Ballots Have Gone Out. Ballot login information has been sent to CAPS Members’ email address on file (and only to dues-paying members – nonmembers will not receive a ballot). If you do not receive the email from Simply Voting, please visit this link to provide an alternate email address to ensure you can vote: https://capsscientists.org/caps-bargaining-updates/alternate-email/

Thank you once again for your engagement.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

June 25, 2020

Your CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) reached a tentative solution with the State of California’s representatives this morning regarding the Administration’s salary savings goal.

The tentative solution is in the form of a side letter. A side letter serves as an ancillary document to a contract – i.e., this side letter, if approved, will be incorporated in CAPS’ current 2018-2020 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Bargaining Unit 10 rank-and-file employees.

Reaching agreement was not easy and only happened after all other possible options were exhausted. The CAPS Team believes the agreement reached is the best possible option to mitigate the reductions as put forth by the Administration while providing protections to your positions, pay, pensions, and healthcare.

To protect the membership from mandated furloughs included in the revised state budget bill (AB89), the CAPS Team agreed to a 2-day per month Personal Leave Program (PLP) (16 hours per month) for two years, which equates to a 9.23% reduction in employee compensation. This program provides for flexible, bankable PLP days (meaning if you don’t use all of your PLP within the month, it can be carried over) to be used at the employee’s discretion in the same manner as vacation/annual leave.

The current MOU provides that employee retirement contributions will be reduced from 8.5% and 11.5% (depending on the CalPERS pension plan), to 8% and 11%, respectively, on July 1, 2021. However, CAPS fought to minimize the financial impact effect of the PLP on our members. Therefore, CAPS negotiated an accelerated return to the 8% and 11% contribution rates that now will take effect July 1, 2020 – 1 year earlier than planned.  This will mean more money stays in CAPS members’ paychecks.

CAPS further sought to offset the PLP impacts by suspending the employee portion of the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) contribution, also known as retiree healthcare. Per the CAPS MOU, Unit 10 pays 2.8% of pay towards OPEB (listed as “CERBT” on your paycheck). CAPS and the State agreed on the OPEB suspension for the duration of the side letter agreement. The State will continue to pay its share of this benefit.

Additionally, this package includes: an increase to the 640-hour limit on vacation and annual leave hours effective through 2025; allows members to cancel and/or modify their VPLP at any time for the duration of PLP 2020; and language that states the State cannot impose any further employee compensation reductions to Unit 10 employees during the PLP 2020.

Finally, the package includes “re-opener” language to address the 5% raise. The final budget bill did not fund any General Salary Increases (GSIs) for any Bargaining Unit in state service. The CAPS Team agreed to this package in order to secure “re-opener” language that would allow for reinstating the previously negotiated 5% GSI should the State receive federal funding or the State’s economic conditions improve, and allows CAPS to meet with CalHR to discuss discontinuing pay suspensions at any time.

The side letter protects all other provisions of the current MOU, including recently negotiated Educational Pay Differentials, etc.  Current pay ranges, pension and health care benefits, and the many other benefits that CAPS members have come to rely upon will also remain in place.

While the CAPS Bylaws do not require a full ratification vote in order to approve a Side Letter, the CAPS Bargaining Team felt it necessary to allow the membership a chance to cast their vote on this side letter agreement. Any agreement that results in a reduction to our salaries is a huge impact to our members – particularly given our existing pay equity issues –  however, this tentative solution protects CAPS members and allows CAPS the ability to continue discussing a successor agreement.

Voting. CAPS is using an independent firm, Simply Voting, to manage the online balloting. Here is their website: www.simplyvoting.com; and here is the information about how they ensure security of the balloting in online balloting: https://www.simplyvoting.com/security-and-reliability/.

Ballot login information will be sent to CAPS members’ email address on file (and only to dues-paying members – nonmembers will not receive a ballot). The ballot login info will be sent by “CAPS” from the email address “.”

If you have not received the email from Simply Voting, please visit this link to provide an alternate email address to ensure you can vote:  https://capsscientists.org/caps-bargaining-updates/alternate-email/.

Voting Commences Early Friday Morning, June 26. As is CAPS policy, only Member votes will be counted.  Votes must be submitted by 1 pm (Pacific Time Zone) on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

After the votes are counted members will be notified of the outcome. If members approve the side letter it will go into effect on July 1, 2020. If members reject the side letter the CAPS Team will reconvene with CalHR in July, but the Administration will implement mandatory furloughs for Unit 10 employees starting July 1, 2020, and the negotiated offset to employee compensation cuts (i.e. OPEB suspension and pension formula reduction) would not be realized in July 2020.

After the membership votes on this side letter and we move beyond the immediate need to help balance the state budget, CAPS will continue to bargain with CalHR on the successor MOU. We are committed to continue bargaining for the equitable pay we all deserve as state scientists. Please stay tuned for future bargaining updates.

Members-Only Section Password.  Effective Tuesday, June 23, the CAPS website members-only section password was changed to Summer2020 – it is case-sensitive.

June 23, 2020

Bargaining Continues. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met again with CalHR last Thursday with the intent of finding an amenable solution to the Administration’s salary savings goal prior to the June 30th deadline. The meeting resulted in only one viable option to meet the 10% employee compensation reductions proposed in the Governor’s May Revise Budget and the tentative FY20-21 budget bill (SB 74) passed by the Legislature: A 2-day per month Personal Leave Program (PLP) in exchange for a total savings of 9.23%.

To help partially offset the financial impact, the Administration would agree to suspend the employee contributions to “Other Post-Employment Benefits” (OPEB), otherwise known as retiree healthcare. Per the CAPS MOU, Unit 10 pays 2.8% of pay towards OPEB. The suspension would likely be for the duration of the agreement. The State would continue to contribute its portion of OPEB during the employee payment suspension.

The Administration proposed not funding our July 1, 2020 General Salary Increase (GSI), but the Legislature included the raise in SB 74. However, yesterday the Governor and Legislators came to an agreement on the budget, and it appears the July 1, 2020 GSI may not be funded.  The CAPS Team reiterated during their meeting last week that if the July 1, 2020 raises remain funded in the final budget, then deferring them would not be acceptable. However, if the final budget doesn’t provide funding for the raises, the CAPS Team proposed “re-opener” language that would allow for reinstating any reduced compensation should the State receive federal funding or the State’s economic conditions improve.

Throughout the bargaining process, the State has continually sought a 2-year agreement, as their own economic forecasts indicate state revenues will likely not return to pre-COVID-19 levels within the next fiscal year without federal funding. The CAPS Team continued to emphasize the long-standing pay inequities that Unit 10 scientists have faced for over 15 years, and that CAPS needs to be able to meet with CalHR to review progress on revenues, and discuss the end to all employee compensation savings.

Last week, three unions came to an agreement with CalHR including: the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA, Unit 6), Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG, Unit 9), and the units represented by SEIU Local 1000.  The CAPS Team is closely examining any viable options granted to other bargaining units.

What the June 30th Deadlines Mean. As mentioned in our last email, if the CAPS Team and CalHR mutually agree on a solution this week, the membership will be asked to vote on whether to:

  • Approve the solution reached by the CAPS Team and CalHR, or
  • Reject it. Which means the Administration will impose any cost savings measures the Legislature and Administration sees fit, but the CAPS Team would return to the bargaining table immediately.

(Note that bargaining for a successor MOU will continue once these reductions have been addressed).

Should the CAPS Team and CalHR agree on a solution, the text of the language will be provided to the membership along with voting instructions? A vote of the membership will determine if the proposed solution is accepted or rejected.

Only Member Votes Will be Counted. Voting will occur electronically, and the link will be sent out via email. Please watch for the message announcing the vote and respond immediately, as all votes must be completed and tallied by June 30th for the agreement to become effective in July 2020.

June 16, 2020

Evaluating Options as Bargaining Continues. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR last Wednesday to discuss which cost-savings options, if any, the CAPS membership may be amenable to mitigate the Governor’s May Revise which requires employee compensation cost savings. This is the “narrowing down and evaluation of options” step in the Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) process.

The CAPS Team also presented two new options to CalHR that would provide employee economic relief during the term of the reductions. They included temporarily redirecting funds from memorandum of understanding (MOU) Section 19.6, Travel Incentives (mass transit and commuting), to an allowance for employees to offset cost of teleworking and/or commuting costs for employees who continue to put themselves at risk by working in the office or the field during the pandemic. The CAPS Team also proposed an early reduction of employee retirement pension contributions to 2018 levels which are currently scheduled to reset to the 2018 level in July 2021. While CalHR appreciated these additional options, they could not agree to them, noting that both options would add additional costs to the state budget and that it would be better to discuss them during bargaining for the successor MOU. The CAPS Team also presented a telework proposal that would include positive recognition of telework agreements and require a written response from management within 21 calendar days of submission. Although the telework proposal did not include additional cost, CalHR and the CAPS Team agreed to further discuss the future of telework during bargaining for the successor MOU. As a reminder, CAPS previously put forth several other options for consideration that were not viable, see last week’s Bargaining Update below.

Another meeting with CalHR was scheduled for last Thursday, but the CAPS Team decided to reschedule with CalHR after the proposed language for Senate Budget Bill 808 (SB 808) was released. The language states that “It is the expectation of the Legislature that all state employee bargaining units meet and confer in good faith with the Governor or the Governor’s representatives on or before July 1, 2020, to achieve up to $2,900,000,000 of employee compensation reductions,” which would allow more time to reach a possible agreement on mitigating the employee compensation reductions.

Yesterday, the Legislators passed Senate Budget Bill 74 (SB 74), which funds State employee July 1 raises and includes an expectation of employee compensation savings equivalent to two furlough days, as noted above for SB 808. Senate President Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a statement regarding SB 808 that “we now anticipate budget savings achieved through the collective bargaining process in the event anticipated federal funds do not materialize.” They also said “we encourage labor unions to engage and finalize agreements with the Administration prior to July 1.” When the Legislature’s budget bill passes, it goes to Governor Newsom, who reserves the right to veto items such as employee raises.  The CAPS Team is reviewing the final budget language in preparation for additional meetings with CalHR later this week. You can review SB 74 here.

Membership input is NECESSARY. When a tentative solution is reached, the membership will be asked to vote on: the agreement that the CAPS Team and CalHR have developed, or no agreement and an imposition of any cost savings measures the Administration sees fit. Should the CAPS Team and CalHR agree to a tentative solution, the membership will have the final vote. Only member votes will be counted. Voting will occur electronically, and the link will be sent out via email. Votes must be completed and tallied prior to June 30. Please watch for the message announcing the vote and respond immediately; this will require a quick turnaround. Future messaging will include information regarding the voting process.

Help CAPS Help You. In case you missed it, CAPS needs YOUR help. All budget proposals for the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year put forth by California Legislators require the assistance of federal aid to establish a balanced budget, as is constitutionally-required. CAPS members can help secure that aid by calling or writing to your federal legislators and encouraging them to pass the HEROES Act, or similar legislation.

Don’t know who your federal legislator is? It’s simple, dial 844-967-2163 to be connected with your Senator and 202-224-3121 to be connected with your Representative. CAPS has put together an example letter for your use here. You can also go online to find your Representatives and email them. Find your Representative here, and your Senator here. Help CAPS help you by helping California!

June 9, 2020

Discussions Continue. The CAPS Bargaining Team (CAPS Team) met with CalHR again last week to continue discussions surrounding potential creative options as a result of the employee compensation reductions in Governor Newsom’s May Revise. As mentioned in previous Bargaining Updates, CAPS and CalHR have embarked on what is called “Interest-Based Bargaining.” This alternative process appealed to the Bargaining Team because it fosters the ability to discuss any and all creative solutions to problems faced by both parties without the fear of being told “no” without explanation.

In traditional positional bargaining, the only way to propose solutions to problems faced by either party is to pass papers filled with legal jargon across the table to one another, and either take that language and make changes, accept the proposal in its entirety, or reject the proposal and provide a separate proposal. This often leads to misunderstandings or inferences about each side’s motivations for proposals. This is especially true because each side reads the proposal from their own perspective and with their own biases. Additionally, positional bargaining is much more “tight-lipped,” which forces both sides to play their motivations close to the vest, lest the other side gains the upper hand.

Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB), on the other hand, requires both sides to be forthcoming with their full story and interests, including shared interests. IBB also does not allow for evaluation of any of the ideas (called “options”) thrown out by either party until the appropriate time. Because of this; however, there are no “proposals” to share and not a lot of information can be released until the options begin to be evaluated by both sides.

We have now reached the point in the IBB process where the steady stream of creative solutions has run dry. The CAPS Team has asked CalHR to ensure there are no more options to consider. Both CalHR and the CAPS Team have put forth (as yet unevaluated) multiple options (including those proposed by members) including, but by no means limited to:

  • Golden Handshakes for members close to retirement;
  • Implementing the Governor’s proposed furloughs as more flexible, bankable, Personal Leave Program hours;
  • Funding the July 1st 5% raise through an extra day of Personal Leave Program time plus the temporary suspension of certain employee compensation items in the MOU;
  • A suspension of the 640-hour Vacation/Annual Leave Program cap; and
  • A suspension of employee OPEB contributions while the state maintains its share.

The CAPS Team has repeatedly emphasized the need for the long-standing administratively-created salary issues to be addressed, and that these compensation cuts will not be readily agreed to by our membership without consideration to the disparity. CAPS emphasized that CalHR did not appear to fully understand or appreciate the issues facing CAPS members, and urged them to provide more substantive solutions. The CAPS Team emphasized what the 5% raises represented to CAPS members, that it was the small first step to acknowledging and addressing CAPS Scientists’ long-standing salary lags.

At that, CalHR assured the CAPS Team that after costing items in the CAPS MOU that could be mutually agreed to for suspension to mitigate the impact to employees’ paychecks, and having put forth all viable options, they had no more options to contribute. CalHR has now requested that the CAPS Team begin to determine which options may work for the CAPS Membership, if any, and discuss them this week.

Both sides have expressed gratitude for the honest, open, and frank discussions that have been held over the last few weeks.

Adding additional considerations for the CAPS Team, the California Legislature announced a draft agreement last week on a budget bill that does not include any cuts to employee compensation, nor to scheduled raises, and does not provide the Administration the authority to impose furloughs during the next fiscal year. It does; however, reserve the right to make cuts should no federal funding be realized by October. While the Legislature’s proposed budget does not include any employee compensation cuts, legislative leaders spoke out to encourage the use of collective bargaining to help lower budget costs. If the Legislature’s budget bill passes, it goes to Governor Newsom, who reserves the right to veto items such as employee raises. The CAPS Team plans to continue the current negotiation effort, in case the Legislature’s budget doesn’t pass.

The CAPS Team has repeatedly emphasized to CalHR the need to include time for the CAPS Membership to voice their opinion on any option deemed viable by both parties, and the need to have an informed and engaged membership. As more information becomes available, the CAPS Membership will continue to be updated.

Choose Unity, Choose Strength, Choose CAPS.

Bargaining Updates are sent only to dues-paying CAPS Members. Encourage your nonmember colleagues to join today to ensure they, too, can stay informed.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Other Important Updates.

Professional Development Days – Use Them or Lose Them. CAPS MOU, Section 15.10, provides all CAPS members with two days per fiscal year for activities to promote one’s professional growth and to enhance professional goals. The days must be used prior to the end of the fiscal year, June 30th. Use your Professional Development Days (PDD) before the end of the fiscal year to ensure you don’t lose them. An important note is that your pay warrants only show hours for “PD” once you’ve used your Professional Development Days, otherwise it remains zeroed. If you have a question regarding how to determine whether you’ve used your professional development days this year, contact your personnel specialist. If you have any additional questions about PDD, contact CAPS at .

June 2, 2020

Productive, Collaborative Meetings Continue, Amidst Incoming Information. Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with CalHR again last week to continue discussing the proposed 10% cost savings from the Newsom Administration, and also collective bargaining for a successor agreement. The Bargaining Team is trying to mitigate the financial impact on members by exploring all options with CalHR and see where we have common ground.  During the discussions, the Bargaining Team reiterated that CAPS members will experience a 15% salary reduction, due to the Governor’s proposal to not fund the July 1, 2020 employee raises. During this meeting, CAPS continued to push for additional clarification and information from CalHR to understand exactly what kind of “creative solutions” are on the table and restated that retirement benefits are of utmost importance to protect. While some questions have been answered, many remain, in part due to CalHR’s resources being stretched thin while bargaining with all units at once.

The CAPS Team focused on the necessity of our members’ input on any preliminary decisions and discovered that ensuring our membership is heard is a mutual interest. The Bargaining Team stated we have heard from hundreds of members, including a grassroots petition signed by over 500 members, and explained to CalHR what the membership concerns and interests are regarding employee compensation cost savings in the budget.  A top interest is having an informed and engaged membership. CalHR agreed that regardless of how an agreement is reached – e.g. a side letter – that CAPS’ needs to engage and inform the membership can be met.

An important piece of the discussion this week centered around the Voluntary Personal Leave Program (Section 3.19 of the CAPS MOU). This program allows members to elect to reduce their pay by 4.62, 9.24, or 13.85 percent to receive 8, 16, or 24 hours of personal leave per month, respectively. While it is normally a benefit, the program could unnecessarily burden State Scientists due to the impending July 1 employee compensation reductions. Thus, CAPS advocated on behalf of members that CalHR direct Departments to release members from VPLP should they so choose. As a result, CalHR has agreed to direct Departments to allow Unit 10 employees to cancel their VPLP without requiring it to be within a certain quarter. CalHR noted that the VPLP cancellation would have to be submitted prior to the State Controller’s Office (SCO) deadline which is likely around June 20. CAPS will continue to update the membership with more information as soon as it becomes available. Due to the potential pending salary reductions, if VPLP participants want to cancel their VPLP, they should do so immediately. If you encounter issues canceling your VPLP please contact CAPS as soon as possible.

Both CalHR’s and CAPS’ Bargaining Team members acknowledged during last week’s meeting that the Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) process felt much more productive and collaborative than the traditional method (positional bargaining), and that this method had already produced possible creative options. No possibilities have yet been evaluated (i.e. what we can mutually agree to), which is an integral part of the IBB process.

Bargaining Updates are sent only to CAPS Members. Encourage your nonmember colleagues to join today to ensure they, too, can stay informed.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus,
President & Bargaining Team
Chair
Maureen Lee-Dutra,
District II Director
David Rist,
District IV Director
Daniel Ellis,
Vice President
Justin D. Garcia,
District III Director
Jimmy Spearow,
At-Large Director

Other Important Updates.

CalHR Releases Guidance Surrounding Contact Tracing. Governor Newsom announced the new Contact Tracing Program “California Connected” on May 22 which would require Departments to identify 5% of their workforce to dedicate to this program to reach the overall goal of 10,000 contact tracers. Departments immediately started rolling out information and “volunteering” state employees, without a lot of definitive answers on how the program may affect benefits, return rights, and promotional opportunities. On Friday, CalHR released guidance to Departments surrounding the assignment of state employees to contact tracing duties that answered some of these questions. The CalHR document can be found here. CAPS continues to request additional information for members that have voluntarily or involuntarily been redirected.

CAPS Board Meeting Cancelled. The CAPS Board of Directors Meeting for Quarter 2, previously scheduled for June 13, 2020, is canceled to protect the health and safety of meeting participants due to current prohibitions on larger gatherings. The Board did not make this decision lightly and took this action so members did not have to choose between their union duties and their health and safety. At this time, the Board has turned their attention to the pressing matters surrounding Governor Newsom’s May Revise and all avenues available to CAPS in dealing with this new challenge.

Our Quarter 3 Board of Directors’ Meeting remains scheduled for August 22, 2020, at the Holiday Inn Sacramento Downtown-Arena (300 J Street, Sacramento). It is the hope of the CAPS Board of Directors that the threat of the Coronavirus will be alleviated to a point by then to allow for in-person, large group gatherings.

May 26, 2020

Bargaining Team Met With CalHR. Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with CalHR on Wednesday and Thursday of last week to get additional information regarding Governor Newsom’s request for all Bargaining Units to help find “creative solutions” to the impending 10% reductions in employee compensation. If there is no agreement by June 15th to achieve the required savings, then furloughs will be imposed starting with the July pay period.

The Bargaining Team focused on “employee compensation” and sought clarification on what items besides salaries could count towards the reductions. In addition to exploring creative ways to achieve the Governor’s salary savings goal, the CAPS team made it clear that Unit 10 scientists find the prospect of a salary reduction to be very burdensome due to the long-standing pay inequity that has existed for over a decade.

Of note, when the CAPS Team relayed the importance of State Scientists and the history of the pay disparity issue that has persisted from previous Administrations, representatives from CalHR and the Department of Finance (DOF) remarked that this Administration is aware of CAPS’ history and salary issues, and that they value scientists. At the same time, they said that as a result of the State’s constitutional requirement to maintain a balanced budget, all state employee bargaining units will see a 10% reduction in employee compensation, as of June 2020 numbers due to the COVID-19 Pandemic Recession. In addition, July 1 employee compensation increases are not currently funded in the budget. Without the funding, the 5% raise will not be reflected in your gross salary, which means the 5% would not count towards retirement calculations at this time.

Both teams grappled with the challenges and short timelines imposed by the State Constitution and CAPS’ own Bylaws. To identify potential solutions the teams are using an innovative bargaining process (known as Interest-Based Bargaining) that seems more open, honest, and conducive to producing positive results when compared to the traditional bargaining process.

Looking Forward – Member Information. The Bargaining Team asked several questions that CalHR needs time to answer, but answered questions are included in the “May Revise FAQs” posted on the members-only section of the CAPS website. Please keep in mind this is a working document that will be updated when more information becomes available and is a good resource that answers some of the most common questions about Governor Newsom’s May Revise. Visit the FAQs here.

Thank you for Voicing Your Questions and Ideas! Finally, CAPS would like to THANK YOU for all your recent input. Many members have contacted CAPS to share their own creative solutions, suggestions, concerns, opinions, and personal anecdotes. CAPS Leaders have also received a well-written petition that clearly articulates the concerns many members have been expressing. It currently has over 500 signatures from members throughout the state! We appreciate the message and want to express our gratitude for your support, ideas, and engagement. An informed, engaged, and united membership is what CAPS aims to maintain.

The Bargaining Team welcomes all input, and requests and encourages members to continue sharing ideas via this new member response tool: https://app.surveymethods.com/EndUser.aspx?EBCFA3BCEAAFBABAE0. We are working on a very short timeline and request you share your creative ideas with CAPS as soon as possible. Please look for future communications regarding how YOU can help CAPS during these trying times.

In Solidarity,

CAPS Bargaining Team

Margarita Gordus,
President & Bargaining Team
Chair
Maureen Lee-Dutra,
District II Director
David Rist,
District IV Director
Daniel Ellis,
Vice President
Justin D. Garcia,
District III Director
Jimmy Spearow,
At-Large Director

Other Important Updates.

Suspension of Direct Deposit Advices. CAPS was notified last week that the State Controller’s Office (SCO) issued notification to all departments that, in response to COVID-19, SCO has temporarily suspended the printing of all direct deposit advices for departments which have electronic access to earnings and deduction information through Cal Employee Connect (CEC). Implementation for affected staff will begin with the May 2020 pay warrant. Members affected by this change will be notified by their Department and provided with procedures for how to access their direct deposit advice through the CEC website. 

March 10, 2020

Your CAPS Bargaining Team met with the CalHR Team for the first time on Thursday, March 5, 2020 to begin the process of bargaining for a successor contract to replace the 2018-2020 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The CalHR Team included representatives from the following departments that employ State Scientists: California Energy Commission (CEC), California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Additionally, representatives from CalHR and the Department of Finance were present.

The all-day meeting centered on introductions, future planning, and the introduction of CAPS’ issues. CAPS also presented a broad overview of Unit 10 and the important work that State Scientists perform to protect public health and the environment. The description of duties and the plethora of assignments was received with interest. The presentation also included a brief history of CAPS’ collective bargaining history and touched on our top priority: salaries. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 19, 2020.

You can support the Bargaining Team by wearing your CAPS T-shirt on bargaining days. Click here to order your first shirt, request a replacement of an old shirt, or to purchase additional shirts.

If you have any suggestions for changes or additions to the CAPS MOU that you’d like the bargaining team to consider, please fill out the Bargaining Proposal Template and return it to .
Science Matters. California State Scientists. 

Margarita Gordus,
President & Bargaining Team
Chair
Maureen Lee-Dutra,
District II Director
David Rist,
District IV Director
Daniel Ellis,
Vice President
Justin D. Garcia,
District III Director
Jimmy Spearow,
At-Large Director

March 5, 2020

Dear CAPS Membership,

THANK YOU for your participation in the CAPS Bargaining Survey, which was sent out on January 28, 2020. Only 42% of rank-and-file CAPS members completed and submitted the Bargaining Survey. This is a good percentage, but we can do better! Engage your colleagues and encourage them to participate in their union. The survey will remain open, however, the Bargaining Team is already reviewing the data to help guide this upcoming round of collective bargaining.

The Bargaining Team would like to share a summary of the results with the membership, once again noting that fair pay has been, and continues to be, the top bargaining priority. Subsequent Bargaining Team priorities will be determined as bargaining progresses with CalHR, considering member input.

You can view the survey results here.

Once again, your CAPS Bargaining Team THANKS YOU for your engagement and participation. The Bargaining Proposal Template remains open for submissions here.  Please be sure to continue to look for Bargaining Updates and write in when you have suggestions or comments!