CASE: Legal Professionals Standing Up for Legal Professionals

Our Story in Brief

The Legislation: CASE’s proud history as an independent, member-led organization of state legal professionals dates to 1977 and the Ralph C. Dills Act, which provided rank-and-file state employees the right to collectively bargain for wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment.

The Designation: Legal challenges held up the implementation of the new law for several years, but eventually, the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB) grouped state employees with related professions, common skills, job duties, and educational requirements – called “communities of interest” – into 20 bargaining units.  PERB assigned attorneys, administrative law judges, and other legal professionals to Bargaining Unit 2. With those groupings established, PERB commenced elections to allow the employees in each bargaining unit to choose their official representation at the bargaining table. 

Big Unions’ Push: Many large unions campaigned for the opportunity to represent state employees. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the California League of Engineering & Allied Technical Employees and others launched drives. Unit 2 employees had two options on their ballots: Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – which at the time was affiliated with the California State Employees Association (CSEA) – or the independent, employee-created Association of California State Attorneys and Administrative Law Judges (ACSA).

The Question: At issue for those first Unit 2 voters: Would becoming part of SEIU/CSEA add resources and heft to the new, relatively small unit? Or would it be more effective to form an independent union that focused solely on Unit 2 concerns and did not have to pass through a portion of member dues to SEIU International?

The Answer: ACSA won, signaling the founders’ understanding that an organization founded by state legal professionals, for state legal professionals, and led by state legal professionals is the best advocate for their collective concerns.

“Excluded” Employees: In 1990, the Bill of Rights for State Excluded Employees gave “state supervisory, managerial, confidential, and employees otherwise excepted from coverage” under the Dills Act the right to join organizations that will represent them in their employment relationship with the state. After that, supervisors and managers attached to Unit 2 could become CASE members.

New Name, Same Mission: Around 2000, the leadership of ACSA changed its name to CASE to rebrand the organization and distinguish it from another group that shared the old acronym, the Association of California School Administrators. What has never changed is CASE’s dedication to representing state legal professionals at the bargaining table, in the workplace, in the Capitol, in the media, and anywhere else their collective interests are at stake. 

Continuing a Tradition of Service: Today, CASE represents over 5,000 legal professionals in Bargaining Unit 2. Our members ensure the California Dream by fighting for access to affordable health care, enforcing civil rights, protecting public safety, promoting workplace safety, and more. We represent our members, individually and collectively, at the bargaining table, before the Legislature, administrative agencies, judicial bodies, and in every forum where their employment and professional interests are at stake, so they can focus on their 39.3 million clients – the people of California.