Now that the state is no longer in the grips of a budget crisis, public employee unions are optimistic that they finally have some leverage to negotiate a raise.
Will Gov. Jerry Brown hold the line on spending, as he has vowed, and keep salaries in check?
The Times’ Chris Megerian takes a look at the issue in a article Monday.
He writes that contracts for almost half of the state’s 350,000 employees come due this summer. And the biggest unions negotiating them will be sitting across the bargaining table from an administration grateful for all that the unions did to help pass Brown’s tax-hike plan in November.
Regardless of the politics, labor leaders say raises are long overdue. They note it has been a tough several years for state workers. They have been battered by furloughs and salary freezes. The pension benefits offered newly hired workers have been scaled back.
But California’s workers still earn salaries that, on average, are far beyond what government employees earn elsewhere. And fiscal conservatives note the state is still teetering financially.
"The hope is that [Brown] goes into these negotiations with the same sense of austerity he's been talking about," said Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo), vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. He warned every dollar spent on state worker raises is a dollar that comes out of another government program.