A BAD IDEA by POC Clinicians

The Parole Outpatient Clinic (POC) provides vital and unique services to people suffering from mental illness who are under parole supervision. This population is unequivocally underserved, historically and currently.  The POC provides in-depth mental health care to its clients as provided for by the 8th amendment. Because of our training, infrastructure and collaborative in-person relationships with parole agents, clients’ and other stakeholders the POC is the only program in the state uniquely co-located to provide these services. We ask you to support us as we fight to continue serving this often overlooked and unheard population.
Our video can be seen by clicking HERE

“Why am I choosing to stick with my Local during this crisis?” Lisa Smith

I became more active in my Union just as our world began to change with the current COVID-19 health and economic crisis. The burden is heavy but lightened by our strength in unity. What I have been most encouraged by is the attention and respect that is given when our issues are approached from the Union perspective rather than individuals attempting to tackle the system on our own. In unity, our voices are loud and clear. I am with my Union because my Union is with me. 

Lisa Smith
Individual Program Coordinator Occupational Chair
Porterville developmental Center

“Why am I choosing to stick with my Local during this crisis?” Victor Pacheco

During these times, one may ask themselves,

“Why am I choosing to stick with my Local during this crisis?”

Our board members were asked recently. Their answers will be shared on the front page and news feed this month.

In dealing with supervisors, managers, the state and bureaucracy in general, going up against them as an individual seems to be a David vs. Goliath proposition.  Having AFSCME behind me, my voice is stronger and better heard than just me. I’m bigger against the machine with AFSCME behind me.

I was on the call this afternoon to give a minute of testimony against the POC and DJJ closures.  I could not have done that without AFSCME as a citizen, but it’s through AFSCME that our lobbyist helped to facilitate an organized call with many POC clinicians.  Tomorrow, there’s a hearing on non-punitive terminations.  Again, as an individual, you can listen and provide your testimony to the legislators.  But you’d be unlikely to follow through.  We are stronger as an organization than as individuals.

Speaking (my) truth to power is a challenge and many psychologists I know fear retaliation for speaking up.  I don’t.  That may be because I have AFSCME behind me.  I’m a better state employee as a result of the union.

Victor Pacheco, Psy.D.
CMF Psychologist
State Psychologist Occupational Committee (SPOC) Chair

We’re living through a tragedy of historic proportions.

Full article can be found HERE.

“The first two bills passed by Congress have been important initial steps. But we need to think bigger and act more boldly. The House and the Senate must move quickly to include robust general grant assistance to states and municipalities, so they can maintain services now and into the immediate future, when they are needed most.”



AFSCME Sponsored Bills Update

AFSCME Members,

It has been busy for AFSCME at the state capitol; where 2 bills passed the Senate floor and 3 others passed concurrence of amendments in their house of origin. Here are the details:

(click on the bill for more info)

AB 1400 (Kamlager-Dove) Employment Safety: firefighting equipment:mechanics

Yesterday, AFSCME sponsored bill AB 1400 passed the California State Senate with a 35-0 vote. This bill requires the Commission on Health and Safety and Worker’s Compensation to submit a study to the Legislature and the OSHS Board by January 1, 2021. This study will evaluate the risk of exposure to carcinogenic materials and incidence of occupational cancer in mechanics who repair and clean firefighting vehicles in the County of Los Angeles. The bill now heads back to the Assembly for concurrence on Senate amendments.   

SB 591 (Galgiani) Incarcerated persons: mental health evaluations.

Yesterday, AFSCME sponsored bill SB 591 passed concurrence of amendments in the California State Senate. This bill requires that psychologists from the State Department of State Hospitals, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, or the Board of Parole Hearings be given access to a prisoner being temporarily housed at a county correctional facility, a county medical facility, or a state-assigned mental health provider. The bill passed off the floor with a 40-0 vote. It now heads to the Office of Governor Newsom for his signature.  

SB 363 (Pan) Workplace safety

Yesterday, AFSCME sponsored bill SB 363 passed through the California State Senate for the concurrence of amendments made in the Assembly. This bill amends the labor code by adding a requirement for data reporting of assaults on hospital staff. It specifically requires the State Department of Hospitals, the State Department of Developmental Services or the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to report the number of assaults quarterly, to all the state bargaining units at the department.  This bill passed with a 40-0 vote and now heads to Governor Newsom’s desk for his signature.

SB 165 (Atkins) Medical interpretation services.

Yesterday, AFSCME sponsored bill SB 165 passed the California State Senate in concurrence with the amendments made in the Assembly. This bill will require pilot projects of in-person interpretation to run concurrent with the studies conducted, and extends the sunset date on the bill to July 1, 2024. The bill also requires the Department of Health Care Services to expend $5 million for the pilot projects. The purpose of the studies is to evaluate whether disparities can be reduced with LEP Medi-Cal beneficiaries by using in-person medical interpretation services.   This bill passed with a 40-0 vote and now heads to Governor Newsom’s desk for his signature.

AB 314 (Bonta) Public Employment: labor relations: release time.

Yesterday, AFSCME sponsored bill AB 314 passed the California State Senate with a 27-11 vote. This bill requires employers to grant a reasonable number of employee designated representatives reasonable time off without loss of compensation or other benefits for specified activities. This bill now heads back to its house of origin for the concurrence of amendments made in the Senate.

‘Being in a Union Is Huge’

“To me, being in a union is huge,” says Shukimba Carlis, a licensed clinical social worker at Napa State Hospital in Napa, Calif. “If I weren’t, I wouldn’t know where to go to

Shukimba Carlis

have my issues heard.” Carlis is a member of Local 2620 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Local 2620 represents about 5,000 health and social services professionals throughout California, including psychologists, rehabilitation therapists, pharmacists, radiologists and individuals in other healthcare-related disciplines. (Local 2620 Webmaster edit: We do not represent radiologists)

“Being in the union means I am being treated fairly,” says Carlis, 45. “We have collective bargaining and we have a contract that states our rights and our recourses, which include filing grievances and negotiating our pay and our retirement benefits.”

As a facility chief steward for her hospital, Carlis meets with stewards and business agents from unions representing nurses and other workers, and she meets with management to discuss workers’ concerns. She also educates employees who are curious about the role of the union.

“I explain that being in the union brings us together to work for fair wages, better benefits and better staffing levels, which makes the workforce stronger. There is power in numbers and in standing up for what you believe.”

Full article HERE

California prison guards can’t sue state for time spent walking to their posts, court rules

The California Supreme Court on Monday rejected most of an 11-year-old lawsuit in which tens of thousands of California state prison guards sought additional pay for work-related tasks they performed before and after their shifts.

Supreme Court Decision Walk

The decision greatly reduces the number of correctional officers who can pursue overtime claims against the state for work they carry out before reaching their posts inside California state prisons, such as retrieving weapons and moving through controlled check points.

The state Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision held that rank-and-file prison guards represented by the California Correctional Peace Officers Association cannot sue the state for additional compensation.

Their contract already provides them some pay – four hours a month – to compensate them for time they spend inside prisons with their gear moving to and from their posts.

The court, however, is allowing correctional supervisors who are not represented by a union to proceed with their part of the lawsuit.

The court says correctional sergeants and lieutenants can sue to argue they should be compensated for “duty-integrated walk time,” which refers to the time they spend in the prison after they retrieve equipment.

That leaves about 5,000 current and former correctional officers in the case, down from about 40,000, according to attorneys for the correctional officers.

The decision disappointed union advocates who contended that prison guards are effectively under the state’s control as soon as they enter a facility and should be paid for the time they spend on site.

“They’re doing a whole series of things that ordinary people don’t have to do as they walk to their workplace and they’re doing it in the most controlled environment in the state,” said Gregg McLean Adam, the lead attorney in the class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit dates to 2007, when the state imposed working conditions on CCPOA in a contract impasse. Correctional officers in a 2008 lawsuit argued the state had breached its contract, and they were compelled to work “off the clock.”

Similar lawsuits followed in 2009 and 2010 before a 2013 trial in San Francisco Superior Court.

The CCPOA contract calls for correctional officers to work 168 hours a month, four hours of which are meant to compensate them for time they spend in prisons preparing for their shifts, according to the court decision.

Sergeants and supervisors do not get that compensation. If they win it through the lawsuit, thousands of sergeants and lieutenants could receive wages dating back to 2007, said Gary Goyette, an attorney who is representing correctional supervisors.

He said witnesses during the trial said correctional supervisors typically go unpaid for some time each shift after they retrieve gear but before they check into their posts.

“We’re in strong position to recover” wages for that time, Goyette said.

Supreme Court Decision Walk

Licensing Program Analyst (LPA) Statewide Conference Call

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The California Rule on Public Employee Pensions Under Attack: Will We Still Call It The “California Rule” If It Is No Longer The Rule In California?

By: Steven M. BerlinerDanny Y. Yoo Feb 19, 2019

Most public employees in California are eligible to enroll in a state or county retirement system.  These retirement systems are governed by state statutes, known primarily as either the Public Employees’ Retirement Law (“PERL”) or the County Employees’ Retirement Law (“CERL”), depending on the retirement system in question. 

While the legislature enacts statutes to provide benefits in retirement, the California courts have developed what is known as the “California Rule” regarding vesting of these benefits. This judicially created rule states that public employees in California have vested rights in their pension benefits, and therefore begin earning this deferred form of compensation from their very first day of employment. While they may not remain employed long enough to actually receive benefits, as long as they do remain employed, they have the right to keep earning this deferred compensation to be paid after they retire. The courts have held that these pension benefits cannot be modified unless: (1) the modification maintains the integrity of the system; (2) bears some relation to the theory of the pension system; and (3) if the modification results in some disadvantage, it is accompanied by a comparable new advantage. Practically speaking, this makes it difficult for the state legislature to revise pension statutes in order to allow reductions in benefits that had previously been promised to public employees. The result is that promises made years or decades earlier generally cannot be modified despite current exploding costs being absorbed by public employers. 

On September 12, 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act of 2013 (“PEPRA”) in order to address the looming crisis of increasing pension costs. PEPRA primarily changed the pension benefits that employees hired after its enactment could expect. However, PEPRA also modified some of the pension benefits for existing public employees under both the PERL and CERL. Some of these changes include the discontinuation of the right to purchase service credit not related in any way to prior employment (known as “airtime”), as well as the discontinuation of certain types of compensation in pension calculations, among others. There are currently several cases before the California Supreme Court, which will analyze whether PEPRA changes to existing employees’ pension benefits violated the California Rule. 

On December 5, 2018, the California Supreme Court heard oral argument in Cal Fire Local 2881 v. CalPERS, which it chose to hear first. The state intervened in the case to defend PEPRA. In this case, public employees are challenging PEPRA’s elimination of “airtime.” The appellate court held that employees did not have a vested right to purchase airtime because there was no express language in the statute, or its legislative history, that unambiguously stated an intent by the Legislature to create a vested pension benefit.  Alternatively, the appellate court held that it was permissible to eliminate “airtime” because a pension system was established to compensate for actual work and that, in fact, the option to purchase “airtime” was detrimental to the successful operation of the pension system because it does not relate to any work performed. Finally, the appellate court held that while a comparable new advantage “should” be provided, the term “shall” in prior decisions was not a mandate. If upheld, this decision would mark a serious erosion of California public employee pension vesting principles.  

During oral argument before the California Supreme Court, the justices directed questions at both attorneys to address whether the opportunity to purchase airtime was a vested right. The employees argued that the opportunity to purchase airtime was a vested right upon one’s acceptance of and/or continued employment. The justices challenged this notion because any such rule may be overbroad and may apply to any employment benefit offered to an employee.  Interestingly, the justices did not question either side on whether there needed to be a comparable new advantage provided to employees in exchange for the elimination of the right to purchase “airtime.”

On the other side, the state argued that the legislature never intended for this opportunity be to a vested right, neither expressly nor impliedly. The justices seemed to concede that there was no express language that created a vested right, but questioned whether the legislature could ever create an implied right to a benefit and if so, how. The state responded that there appears to be an implied right to a “substantial, reasonable pension,” but that purchasing “airtime” was not necessary to providing a substantial, reasonable pension.

While it is usually difficult to predict a court’s final ruling based on the questions the justices ask during oral argument, the court could be signaling its direction here given the questions it did not ask. Specifically, the justices did not ask about the heart of the California Rule; whether alternative benefits must be provided whenever a vested right is impaired. Given the other cases pending before the Supreme Court and the nature of the justices’ questions in Cal Fire, the court appeared to signal that it will likely issue a narrow ruling related to airtime itself, allowing major components of the California Rule to be argued in later cases. In any event, even if the Supreme Court overturns the California Rule in full and allows pension benefits to be modified more easily, there is unlikely to be an immediate impact on California public employees nor relief to public employers facing ever-increasing pension costs. Any change to public employee pension benefits must first come from the state legislature. While overturning the California Rule would, in theory, make it easier to modify pension benefits, it would still be up to the state legislature, not individual public employers enrolled in these pension plans, to first make modifications to the state statutes. Absent such statutory change, these benefits will remain largely untouchable, regardless of the court’s ultimate decision.