California is the nation’s leading laboratory of public policy and innovation. The first-of-their kind laws and regulations adopted here almost always end up in court. Californians deserve a stable roster of the best and brightest legal minds in the State working each day to protect their natural resources, health, safety, livelihoods, and opportunity. 

For too long, the state has failed to invest in the Unit 2 workforce. The pandemic and resulting “Great Resignation” have fulfilled the warnings CASE has issued for years: experienced, talented legal minds are leaving State service for higher pay and better benefits with federal and local governments. 

The unacceptably high 17% Unit 2 vacancy rate represents work that doesn’t get done for the people of California. It also represents a remaining workforce that is stretched to the max, doing its best to ensure the state’s most vulnerable services, people, and resources aren’t irrevocably damaged. 

Governor Newsom cannot implement his policy priorities if he doesn’t appropriately value the people fighting each day to protect California’s values.

Unit 2 salaries lag behind their public sector counterparts by around 30%. And that figure is far worse for Administrative Law Judges – so much worse, in fact, that the State won’t even publish accurate salary comparison data, even though it is required to do so. A quick review of current salaries for federal ALJs and State Bar Judges shows lags of over 45% in some cases. These salary lags contribute to nearly 1000 Unit 2 positions sitting vacant – vacancies that directly threaten Californians’ safety, resources, and opportunities.

A lack of paid family leave benefits for Unit 2 legal professionals compounds the problems created by the salary lag. State leaders have long promoted ideas of work-life balance, family values, and supporting employees and yet they have failed, for decades, to take care of their own house first. The time has come for paid family leave benefits. Employees deserve time to bond with a newly arrived child and, increasingly for “the sandwich generation,” to care for aging and ailing parents. 

We, the undersigned, urge the State to join CASE in protecting Californians by ensuring a top-notch roster of legal professionals. Accomplishing that goal requires the Governor agree to a Unit 2 Memorandum of Understanding that:

•    Provides salaries competitive with federal and local agencies,
•    Restores the appropriate salary relationship between Attorneys and ALJs,
•    Provides meaningful family leave benefits for all, and
•    Preserves maximum telework flexibility for all Unit 2 legal professionals

Without immediate action to return the State to its appropriate status as employer-of-choice for top talent, Governor Newsom cannot meet this moment in history and Californians will suffer.

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