Please click a date below to view the Weekly Update.

February 14, 2020

PECG’s Annual Legislative Day this week was once again a big success.  Seventy PECG Corporate and Section leaders from throughout California headed to the State Capitol on Tuesday of this week to meet with over 100 legislators and key legislative staff members.  In the evening, PECG hosted a reception in the Capitol for more casual discussions with dozens of lawmakers and state government leaders, including Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin, CalHR Director Eraina Ortega, Department of Conservation Director David Shabazian, California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk, and California Public Employees’ Retirement (CalPERS) Board President Henry Jones.

PECG’s legislative priorities for 2020 include urging lawmakers to spend infrastructure dollars efficiently by hiring state engineers and related professionals and ending the wasteful, overpriced outsourcing of design and related work.  PECG leaders also made clear that any new public-private partnership (P3) legislation must protect public safety, including a requirement that Caltrans perform the construction inspection on new P3s.

PECG’s priorities also include support for Governor Newsom’s state budget proposals to place a $4.75 billion climate resilience bond on the November 2020 ballot and to make an extra $500 million pension contribution to CalPERS to bolster the retirement plan.  To view the complete PECG Legislative Day talking points, please click here.

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Mail-in ballots went out to California voters who requested them earlier this month and the March 3, 2020, primary election is now just weeks away.  PECG recommends your support for Proposition 13 (school bonds) and has endorsed 79 state legislative candidates on the March ballot.  PECG’s candidate recommendations are based solely on each candidate’s experience, record in public office, and stated positions on issues affecting PECG members.  PECG’s complete list of recommended candidates can be viewed here.

For PECG members interested in serving on their local Precinct Election Board, the PECG MOU provides that Unit 9 employees may be granted paid time off to do so with prior approval from your supervisor.  For the details, please see MOU Section 5.13.

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PECG offices will be closed Monday, February 17, in observance of Presidents’ Day.   We hope that you have a great three-day weekend.

February 7, 2020

Over 3,700 rank and file PECG members have already completed PECG’s comprehensive Bargaining Survey.  The survey results help establish the priorities of the PECG Bargaining Team as it begins negotiations with CalHR (representing the governor) on the next PECG Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  The current MOU expires on June 30, 2020.

The PECG Bargaining Team is reviewing preliminary survey results, and every one of the over 1,000 comments PECG members submitted when completing the survey.  The survey will remain open for the foreseeable future to ensure that every PECG member who wants to complete the survey, gets a chance to do so.  Please take a few minutes to respond to the survey and share your own bargaining priorities, if you have not done so already.

PECG’s comprehensive Supervisors and Managers Pay and Benefits Survey also remains open.  To date, over 350 supervisory and managerial PECG members have responded.  PECG negotiates salary, benefits, and working conditions for Unit 9 supervisors and managers with the Governor’s Administration through the meet and confer process.  The PECG Meet and Confer Team, made up of fellow supervisors from around the state, will use the survey results to establish its own pay and benefit objectives for supervisors and managers prior to meeting with the State.  If you have not previously completed the survey, please take the time to do so now.

If you have not yet received your survey via email, please let us know by replying to this message.  In some cases, members report that it is not possible to access the online survey via a state computer.  In these instances, PECG recommends that you forward the survey to your personal computer to respond.

January 31, 2020

Yesterday, Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin was the guest speaker at PECG’s Sacramento Section quarterly lunch meeting.  Nearly 400 PECG members and leaders packed into the Masonic Temple in Downtown Sacramento to hear his 30-minute PowerPoint presentation.

Omishakin opened his remarks by thanking state engineers and related professionals for their service to Caltrans and for their work delivering water, energy, health care, education, and other infrastructure projects.

He then outlined the five areas in which he wants Caltrans to dedicate its time and energy under his leadership:  (1) improve highway safety and reduce fatalities, (2) expand modality options to ensure there are viable choices for drivers, transit users, and bikers and walkers, (3) expand innovation so the department is using the very best available technology, and (4) make certain that Caltrans adopts efficiencies to maximize the dollars that are available for projects.  The final area he wants to focus on is to expand engagement with partners and stakeholders so all levels of government and the private sector are working to solve our transportation challenges.

The Director also acknowledged and thanked PECG for our instrumental role in the approval of SB 1 in 2017.  SB 1 provides more than $5 billion annually for much-needed upgrades to state and local transportation infrastructure.  He also repeated what he had said in a meeting with PECG leaders last November:  SB 1 statutory funding formulas dictate that the vast majority of dollars allotted to Caltrans must be invested in the repair and maintenance of state highways – and not diverted elsewhere.  He said he and the entire Newsom Administration understand and support the commitment that was made to all Californians with the approval of SB 1 and the funds will be spent “according to the law.”

To view photos of the Director’s visit to the Sacramento Section lunch, please click here.

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Also yesterday, PECG Vice President of Collective Bargaining (Bargaining Team Chair) Matt Hanson, PECG Bargaining Team Member Ryan Atencio, and PECG staff met again with representatives from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) to push for immediate, official notice of the anticipated move of the Southern California CARB headquarters from El Monte to Riverside.

The State anticipates that CARB’s new Riverside Headquarters will be open and operational in February 2021.  Atencio, an Air Resources Specialist in the El Monte Office who will be dealing firsthand with the impact of the impending move, urged CARB and CalHR to provide PECG members with official notice of the impending move to trigger an array of rights and benefits for Unit 9 employees under the PECG MOU and state regulation.  Those benefits include the ability to claim moving and relocation expenses for household moves and the opportunity for preferential hiring into open positions at other departments for those who may not be able to make the move to Riverside.  PECG also provided a list of other benefits that should be afforded to PECG members facing relocation, including long-term expanded commute, telecommuting, and alternative work week options.

In a document provided to impacted employees last summer, CARB suggests that official notice should occur no sooner than 6 to 9 months prior to projected occupancy of the new Riverside headquarters.  PECG explained that immediate, official notice of the move will provide CARB El Monte employees the time, and afford them the resources, necessary to mitigate the impact of this move and ensure they can appropriately plan their careers and their families’ futures.  PECG will continue to work with CARB and CalHR to ensure that PECG members are afforded the broadest possible options during the relocation, per the MOU and state regulation.

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A brief reminder for PECG members on the Central Coast:  CalPERS is hosting two free all-day CalPERS Benefits Education Events (CBEE) in San Luis Obispo on Friday and Saturday, February 7th and 8th.  The events feature retirement and benefits planning classes for CalPERS members who are new to public service, nearing retirement, and anywhere in between.  Topics include CalPERS retirement benefits, CalPERS health benefits, deferred compensation savings plans, and Social Security.  Classes repeat throughout both days and there are no restrictions on attendance.

The event will be held at the Embassy Suites, 333 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on both days.  For a schedule, more details, online registration, and a calendar of CBEEs events planned around the state, please visit the CalPERS CBEE webpage.

January 24, 2020

Unfortunately, as we know, sometimes the State employer is slow to update reimbursement policies and guidelines.  That has certainly proven to be true for the increased Commute Program reimbursements that are owed to Unit 9 employees.

As reported previously, Unit 9 employees who use mass transit or ride in vanpools are now eligible for a 75% discount, up to $100 a month, on transit passes and rideshare fees.  The previous maximum for each was $65 per month.  Primary vanpool drivers are now eligible for a flat $135 a month reimbursement, up from $100.

The State assures us that they are working to implement the Unit 9 Commute Program increases in all state departments.  The increases are retroactive to the November 2019 pay period, but please wait for updated guidance from your human resources department prior to submitting the paperwork to increase your reimbursement and to receive your retroactive benefits.

The increases are courtesy of MOU Article 2.1 that requires the State to provide Unit 9 employees with the same increases “if other Bargaining Units receive increases” in Commute Program benefits.  SEIU Local 1000 units reached agreement on new MOUs last year that raised Commute Program reimbursements and, therefore, the same increases are to be passed onto Unit 9 employees.  The PECG Supervisory Meet and Confer Team has requested that the State provide the identical increases to Unit 9 supervisors and managers.

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CalPERS is hosting two free all-day CalPERS Benefits Education Events (CBEE) in San Luis Obispo on Friday, February 7, and Saturday, February 8, to educate members in the region about the state retirement programs and benefits available to them.

The events feature classes for early-career, mid-career, and soon-to-retire members.  Topics to be covered include CalPERS retirement benefits, CalPERS health benefits, deferred compensation savings plans, and Social Security.  Classes repeat throughout both days.

There are no restrictions on attendance.  You are welcome to attend on Friday, Saturday, or feel free to participate in classes on both days as your schedule permits.  The CBEEs will be held at the Embassy Suites, 333 Madonna Road, San Luis Obispo from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on both days.

For a schedule, more details, online registration, and a calendar of CBEE events planned around the state, please visit the CalPERS CBEE webpage.

January 17, 2020

PECG’s comprehensive Bargaining Survey to determine your contract bargaining priorities for improvements to Unit 9 salary, benefits, and working conditions was emailed to all rank and file PECG members on Monday, January 13.  In some cases, it seems that the survey email has landed in spam files or been blocked entirely.  If you are a PECG rank and file member and you have not yet received the survey, please let us know by sending an email to pecg@pecg.org.  In other cases, members report that it is not possible to access the online survey via a state computer.  In these instances, PECG recommends that you forward the survey to your personal computer to respond.

The survey results will be reviewed by the Bargaining Team and will help establish the Team’s objectives as it enters negotiations with CalHR (representing the governor) in February on the next PECG Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  PECG’s current MOU expires on June 30, 2020.

PECG’s comprehensive Supervisor and Manager Pay and Benefits Survey will be emailed to PECG’s supervisory and managerial members at the end of the month.  The PECG Meet and Confer Team, made up of fellow supervisors from around the state, will use the survey results to establish its own pay and benefit objectives for Unit 9 supervisors and managers prior to meeting with the State.

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Last week, Governor Newsom released his proposed 2020-21 State Budget which would fund state government operations for the 12-month period beginning July 1, 2020.

His proposed budget would be the largest in state history.  Total spending next year would be just over $222 billion ($153 billion general fund, $63.8 billion special fund, and $5.4 billion in bond spending), about a 3.5% increase over current fiscal year spending.

According to the Governor, there is a projected $5.6 billion in surplus revenue next year.  In November, the Legislative Analysts’ Office had predicted a $7 billion surplus.  The Newsom proposed budget will put nearly $2 billion more into the state’s rainy day fund bringing it to $18 billion.  With $3 billion held in other reserve accounts, California would be sitting on $21 billion by the end of the 2020-21 fiscal year.  The Governor emphasized many times during his budget press conference that the reserves will serve as a buffer to protect against revenue lost in any future recession.

In this proposed budget, as with last year’s, the majority of the surplus is devoted to one-time spending, including significant new funding for programs to address homelessness, wildfire preparation, rising health care, and universal preschool for four-year-olds.  The Governor urged legislators to limit their requests for more spending due to an expected slowdown in the state and national economies in the near future.

As is customary, no funding is included in the budget for compensation increases for bargaining units, like PECG, that do not yet have agreed upon pay increases in the next fiscal year.  PECG’s Bargaining Team begins negotiations on a new MOU in February.  The current MOU expires June 30, 2020.

Here are a few proposals included in the Governor’s budget that will interest PECG members:

  • State Water Resources Control Board – 48 new positions, including 20 Unit 9 positions, to fully implement the new Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund.
  • Department of Water Resources – 37 new positions, including 16 Unit 9 positions, to perform work required by the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, approved in 2014.
  • California Geologic Energy Management Division (formerly DOGGR within the Department of Conservation) – 128 new positions to strengthen field enforcement and improve the transparency of CalGEM’s regulatory activities.
  • Department of Toxic Substances Control – $3 million to revamp DTSC by creating a board to oversee department operations and set fees at levels that fund operations.
  • Seismic Safety Commission – $3 million proposed to transfer the Seismic Safety Commission, including its six positions and associated funding, to CalOES beginning in 2020-21.

Per past practice, Caltrans staffing for next year is not covered in the January budget proposal.  Caltrans staffing levels will likely be part of the May Budget Revision.

PECG will continue to monitor budget deliberations to advocate on behalf of members and Unit 9 departments.  If you are aware of a proposed budget change in your program or department that PECG should be aware of, please email the details to pecg@pecg.org.  To access the Governor’s 2020-21 Budget Summary, please click here.

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Recently, a PECG leader asked if you have a will or living trust, is it really necessary to fill out a CalPERS Special Power of Attorney form?  According to CalPERS, while this document is not required, it is highly recommended.  The Special Power of Attorney form has the specific legal language that is required to allow a representative to act on your behalf concerning your CalPERS business if you become incapacitated.  If you have a personal will or trust which specifically grants an attorney-in-fact the authority to conduct business with CalPERS, they will accept and review those documents.  However, if your documents do not contain a durability clause or specifically mention CalPERS, they will not be able to honor the document.  Overall, there is no downside to completing the form to ensure that your preferred representative can act on your behalf in whatever capacity you choose.

To view the CalPERS Special Power of Attorney publication and form, click here.  If you have any questions about the form or how to fill it out, CalPERS recommends that you reach out to a retirement counselor at the CalPERS regional office nearest you.

January 10, 2020

PECG’s comprehensive Bargaining Survey will be emailed to PECG’s rank and file members this Monday, January 13.  The survey gives PECG members the opportunity to express your priorities for improvements to Unit 9 salary, benefits, and working conditions.  The survey results help establish the goals and objectives for the PECG Bargaining Team as it enters negotiations with CalHR (representing the Governor) in February on the next PECG Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  All bargaining survey results will be compiled and reviewed by the Bargaining Team, as will individual comments and suggestions submitted as part of the survey.  PECG’s 2018-20 MOU expires on June 30, 2020, but remains in effect until agreement is reached on a new one.  The MOU sets your pay, benefits, working conditions, and covers countless other items that beneficially impact your employment.  PECG encourages you to please take the time to complete the survey when it lands in your inbox on Monday or soon thereafter.  The current MOU can be found on PECG’s website here.  The password is currently PECGdelivers! (case sensitive).

In a few weeks, PECG’s comprehensive Supervisor and Manager Pay and Benefits Survey will be emailed to PECG’s supervisory and managerial members.  As a PECG-represented state supervisor or manager, you are represented by a Meet and Confer Team made up of your fellow supervisors from around the state.  The Team negotiates your salary and benefits with the Governor’s Administration through the meet and confer process.   The survey results will help the Meet and Confer Team establish its pay and benefit priorities for Unit 9 supervisors and managers when it meets with the State in the weeks ahead.

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During the holiday season, new PECG 2020 membership cards (along with pocket calendars to those who requested them) were mailed to all PECG members.  Unfortunately, due to an error by the printer, a significant number of PECG members received membership cards which did not list their correct PECG section.  Next week, at the printer’s expense, new membership cards (with the correct section listed) will go out to the affected members.  PECG apologizes for the error and inconvenience.

January 3, 2020

The New Year prompts many of us to reflect on the past and plan for the future.  As you think about changes you may want to make for 2020, please consider taking advantage of the various low-cost insurance plans available only to PECG members.  The premiums are paid through payroll deduction, and the policies offer opportunities to provide additional security for you and your family.

As a benefit of membership, every PECG active member automatically receives $5,000 of Basic Life insurance and $1,500 of Basic Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage at no cost.  However, members may also purchase up to $521,000 of life insurance, and up to $255,000 of dependent life insurance coverage, at low group rates.  Long-term disability, automobile, and homeowner insurance are also available to PECG members, all at low group rates.

To learn more about PECG’s members-only benefits, including discounted insurance products, please visit PECG’s webpage.  The password is currently PECGdelivers! (case sensitive).

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The Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists has just released on its website updated 2020 versions of the Professional Engineers Act, the Professional Land Surveyors’ Act, the Board Rules, the Geologist & Geophysicist Act, and the Regulations Relating to the Practices of Geology and Geophysics.  Please click here to find all the links to the updated laws and regulations, including annotated versions which show the changes that were made in 2019, for your profession.

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As we noted last week, CalPERS is hosting two free, all-day CalPERS Benefits Education Events (CBEE) in Rohnert Park (a city just south of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County) on Friday, January 10 and Saturday, January 11.  The purpose is to educate members in the region about the state retirement programs and benefits available to them.

The events feature classes for early, mid-career, and soon-to-retire members.  Topics to be covered include CalPERS retirement benefits, CalPERS health benefits, deferred compensation savings plans, and Social Security.  Classes repeat throughout both days.

There are no restrictions on attendance.  You are welcome to attend on Friday, Saturday, or feel free to attend classes on both days as your schedule permits.  The CBEEs will be held at the DoubleTree Rohnert Park, 1 Doubletree Drive, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Friday (January 10) and Saturday (January 11).

For a schedule, more details, and online registration, please visit the CalPERS CBEE webpage.