The State Worker
By Jon Ortiz
April 11, 2016 – 12:19 PM

  • Tentative deal makes fitness pay pensionable
  • Some leave counts toward overtime threshold
  • State’s annual payments to union’s benefits trust fund will nearly triple to $14 million

The latest tentative labor agreement with California’s correctional officers proves that there’s more than one way to boost employee compensation without calling it a “raise.”

While the new contract proposal for the 29,000 members of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association contains modest salary bumps, other provisions put more money in their pockets now and later by changing everything from fitness pay rules to making some paid leave count toward the threshold for overtime.

Salaries for union members last year totaled about $2.1 billion, not including another $350 million for overtime, leave cashouts and other special payments, according to data from the State Controller’s Office.

An analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office figures that, if approved, the contract would incrementally add annual costs that top out at $588 million in fiscal 2018-19.

About half that sum, $316.8 million, would come from raises. The pay increases are spread over three years, for a cumulative raise of 9.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the members would begin contributing to a retiree benefits trust fund. Those contributions would increase incrementally to 4 percent of pay beginning in 2018-19. The state would match payments into the fund.

Add the raises, take out the retiree health contributions and the officers get a net 5.3 percent raise at the end of the deal.

But other provisions add cash and enhanced benefits to the agreement more subtly, the analyst noted.

Current law prohibits any form of paid leave from consideration as time worked for the purpose of figuring overtime or compensating time off for overtime. For example, a paid sick day can’t be figured into the 40 hours beyond which an employee receives time-and-a-half for working.

The new deal with CCPOA allows “time off from work for jury leave, military training leave, and subpoenaed witness leave to count as ‘time worked’ for purposes of calculating overtime pay in a week,” the analyst’s report states.

Under the current rules, correctional officers received $340 million in overtime – an average $12,000 per employee – in 2015.

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