California Prison Guards Reach Tentative Contract Deal
SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — A union representing state prison guards reached a tentative contract agreement Tuesday with Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration — five years after former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger imposed a contract stripping the union of much of its power in prison operations.
The California Correctional Peace Officers Association supported Brown in last year’s gubernatorial campaign after years of being at odds with the Schwarzenegger administration.
Union spokesman JeVaughn Baker said negotiators were constrained by the state’s nearly $27 billion budget deficit.
“Both sides had to make compromises that we don’t believe they were necessarily pleased with, but both sides can live with,” Baker said. “We understand the fiscal realities of the state right now.”
The state agreed to contribute more toward members’ health care, dental and vision coverage, but members’ contributions to their retirement plan will increase from 8 percent to 10 percent of their pay, according to the state Department of Personnel Administration.
The pact would end three-day-a-month furloughs for union members, although guards will continue one day off a month without pay for 12 months, similar to contracts recently negotiated with other unions.
The agreement also would prohibit the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from switching to 12-hour shifts for guards to save money, union Executive Vice President Chuck Alexander said in a memo to its board of directors
The agreement “contains enhancements as well as concessions,” Alexander said in his memo. The contract would expire on July 2, 2013.
The union’s board will consider the agreement at a meeting in Sacramento on March 21-22.
Schwarzenegger, a Republican, said the 30,000-member union was an example of public employee unions with too much power and too many perks.
His predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Gray Davis, gave prison guards a 37 percent pay raise shortly before he was recalled from office in 2003.
The union briefly attempted to start a recall petition against Schwarzenegger in 2008 and posted billboards with unflattering images of the former bodybuilder, including one of him in devil’s horns.
It has enjoyed better relations with Brown, who flew to Las Vegas after he was elected governor to address union representatives behind closed doors at their annual convention in December.
“It’s about time they get an even-handed agreement that respects their difficult work and generates savings for the state,” Department of Personnel Administration Director Ron Yank said in a statement.
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