Last Sunday, The Sacramento Bee published an editorial titled “Brown regresses on prison contract” that woefully mischaracterized the agreement between the State of California and the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. (The editorial was published in Monday’s Tribune.)
Opinions of the agreement aside, I was stunned by the many factual errors on which the Bee’s opinion was based.
Fortunately, the paper chose to run a major correction; however, it did not cover all the misinterpreted points. Today, it’s important to clarify the state’s position and the facts regarding the contract it has reached with the CCPOA. The truth is that the Brown administration won major concessions from the union and negotiated a deal for taxpayers that is much better than anything achieved by recent administrations. For instance:
The new contract agreement actually removes any link between the average compensation for correctional officers and local law enforcement pay. Tying these together — which was done by the Davis Administration — would have likely cost the state a billion dollars.
The new contract contains explicit terms that call for training against the code of silence to continue. The language encourages reporting of bad behavior by staff and discourages retaliation for those who choose to do what is right.
The 70/30 rule did not return, as suggested by the Bee. It actually never went away. The same rule existed under Schwarzenegger and remains in this contract.
Contrary to the Bee’s report, the new agreement instead removes provisions that made it difficult to investigate and take corrective or disciplinary action for sick leave abuses. The Brown Administration didn’t give an inch to union demands to maintaining previous language.
It will be harder, not easier, for officers to earn overtime pay in the same month they call in sick. Language in the previous contract that allowed leave credits to be counted as time worked for purposes of overtime were actually deleted from the new contract.
Again, contrary to the Bee’s interpretation, the new agreement does not increase starting employees’ vacation accumulation. New employees get 12 days of vacation and all employees get two personal development days — the same as other state unions—in exchange for losing two holidays. Unfortunately, as a byproduct of the previous administration’s furlough program, employees are accumulating vacation time faster than they can take it. This has meant larger payouts at retirement or separation. However, the state anticipates that as furloughs end, these numbers will come down. And, no state employee has a “use it or lose it” policy in their contracts.
There is no monthly donation of leave credits to a “time release bank.” There is an annual contribution, however, that helps to reduce the unfunded liability of vacation accruals that the same editorial criticized.
The fact that the CCPOA could not “accumulate or use” more hours reduces the unfunded liability of vacation accruals. As to the release time to attend the annual convention, the Bee characterized this as something new but the same provision existed during all seven years of the previous administration.
The pay period is every 28 days. An employee is not considered full time unless he or she works at least 11 days in that pay period. The provision the Bee misinterpreted was simply stating what the benefit is for full-time employees, including the standard criteria for a qualifying pay period.
Critically important to this discussion is the fact that the Brown administration negotiated an ability to re-open any agreement reached under the “entire agreement” clause. The fact that such an agreement previously could not be re-opened by the state was seen as the major impediment to the exercise of management rights. Explicit language now exists that any implemented term can be re-opened. This achieves the only change that was demanded by the Schwarzenegger administration prior to reaching an impasse with the union concerning this clause. It’s important to also note that with the new agreement, management can reopen any problematic matter at any time and can implement its final offer if an agreement is not reached after a reasonable time period.
I appreciate the Bee correcting many of the matters I’ve addressed here, and I recognize that the Bee’s editorial writers have a right to express their opinion on such important and significant matters. But it is critical that their opinion be based in facts, not fiction. I encourage those interested in the facts to review the contract, which is posted on the Department of Personnel website at www.dpa.ca.gov.