Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Legislature?

Where’s the deal?

That’s what some government lawyers are asking about the contract negotiated by their union, California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employment — better known as CASE.

The 3,000-member CASE irked larger state employee unions in December when it agreed to a two-year deal that would have allowed members to opt out of the state’s public pension system. The larger unions complained that the Schwarzenegger administration would use CASE’s deal to pressure them into similar opt-out deals and eventually cripple the generous retirement plan.

Fearful that union-allied Democrats in the Legislature would never approve the new contract, CASE leaders dropped the opt-out provision. But that was eight weeks ago. The delay in legislative approval has some members wondering privately if the bigger unions and lawmakers have stalled the process to punish CASE for its maverick ways. The new contract, after all, includes a retroactive pay raise of 2.5 percent — the first for union members since 2003.

Nonsense, CASE lobbyist Brooks Ellison* said Wednesday morning. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez will introduce the CASE contract, but he’s too busy trying to cut a deal on the infrastructure bond to do that right now, Scribner said. A Nuñez spokesman agreed with that assessment.

That may be. Backroom debates over the bonds have overshadowed any other substantive legislative activity in recent weeks. But doubters note that lawmakers have approved previous union contracts in the final, hectic days of other legislative sessions.

CASE leaders addressed the hang-up in an e-mail sent to members Wednesday afternoon: “The speaker is absolutely committed to carrying the … MOU bill but this and many other important legislative issues have been affected by the demands of the ongoing negotiations at the capitol involving a multi-billion dollar infrastructure bond initiative. Once these ‘11th hour’ negotiations over a June bond are behind us, the speaker is committed to moving our MOU forward as quickly as possible.?

Cheryl Miller

*Corrected: A misattribution of Brooks Ellison’s comments to Jerry Scribner has been fixed.

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One Response to “Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth the Legislature?”

  1. The Wilson Group Says:

    Cheryl,
    You actually talked with Brooks Ellison, the CASE lobbyist, not Jerry Scribner. when you called the Wilson Group.
    –WG

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