Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the consequences if the membership RATIFIES the MOU?

MOU negotiations conclude for this cycle, resuming in 2025 for the next MOU. 
General Salary Increases in 2022 and 2023.
Special Salary Adjustment for ALJs in 2023.
Special Salary Adjustment for the top salary of classifications in 2024
CoBen allowance increases to help cover increased health costs in 2023, 2024, and 2025.
Access to a paid family leave benefit, starting July 1, 2023 after ratification by both parties and required legislative enactments. 

What are the consequences if the membership REJECTS the MOU?

Per the Dills Act, the parties must return to the table to continue negotiations for a new MOU.
No salary increases until the parties reach a new agreement that is ratified by the membership. Retroactivity of any future deal is not guaranteed and typically does not extend back to the prior MOU’s original expiration date.
No special salary adjustments until the parties reach a new agreement that is ratified by the membership.
No increase to CoBen allowances until a new MOU is ratified, which will not occur until after January 1, when higher health care premiums go into effect.
Impacts of delayed CoBen increases will vary based on your health plan. You can review insurance plan premiums and CoBen amounts on the CalPERS website
No paid family leave benefit until the parties reach a new agreement that is ratified by the membership.

NEW: Read the Legislative Analyst Report:

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office is required to analyze each bargaining unit’s proposed MOU prior to the Legislature taking action on ratification. You can read their analysis of the new MOU here.

Who counts as a “legal professional” when you say the GSIs go to “legal professionals”?

Everyone in Unit 2 is a legal professional. We use that term because it covers everyone, rather than just saying “attorneys,” “ALJs,” “DLCs,” etc.

I’m new to state service, what’s an MOU?

The CASE MOU is a labor contract that governs the pay, benefits, and working conditions for all Unit 2 (legal professionals) employees of the State of California.  As the exclusive representative for Unit 2, the CASE Bargaining Team negotiates the agreement with CalHR (representing the State) on behalf of all Unit 2 employees.

Who is on the CASE Bargaining Team?

The Bargaining Team includes 6 members who represent a wide range of personal and state experience and are united in their dedication to improving the lives of members. The team acts in the best interest of the entire membership.

Bargaining Team Members:

Tim O’Connor, ChairAttorney VState Compensation Insurance Fund
Simon Hovakimian, Co-ChairAdministrative Law Judge IIDepartment of Industrial Relations
Traci BelmoreAdministrative Law Judge IOffice of Administrative Hearings
Talene GhazarianAttorney IDepartment of Health Care Services
Jaclyn GrossmanDeputy Attorney General IVDepartment of Justice
Rama MalineDeputy Attorney General VDepartment of Justice
Katrina ManookianAttorney IVState Compensation Insurance Fund

Is this a good deal?

Based on its experiences over the last 6 months and approximately 35 bargaining sessions totalling over 250 hours with CalHR, the Bargaining Team believes that the terms of the total tentative agreement represent the best terms the administration is willing to provide. The Bargaining Team worked tirelessly to secure more but is confident that the offer before you for consideration represents the most the administration is willing to provide at this time – and it represents real economic gains for all Unit 2 legal professionals. 

Didn’t the membership overwhelmingly indicate they would reject a deal in the Straw Poll conducted just a couple of weeks ago?

The MOU Straw Poll indicated that the majority of poll respondents would reject the terms on offer from the State at that time. The Bargaining Team presented the results of the poll to CalHR with a warning: improve the deal or expect CASE members to reject the deal. As late as Thursday of last week, CalHR seemed unwilling to change their offer in any appreciable way. Ultimately, the Bargaining Team’s advocacy at the table and elsewhere resulted in a significant enough change to the terms of CalHR’s offer to warrant presenting it to you for a vote. 

With record inflation and a record state surplus, why isn’t there more money in this MOU

The Bargaining Team presented CalHR with incontrovertible evidence of the salary lag between Unit 2 legal professionals and their public sector peers. CalHR and the Governor refused to provide an offer that matched even their own faulty salary lag analysis. The Team also provided evidence of record inflation, the actions of other governmental entities in California and nationwide providing cost-of-living based salary increases to their employees, but CalHR was not receptive. 

Based on the agreements entered into by other units, the Governor’s stance during this year’s budget process, and the uncertain economic forecast, this seems to be as far as the administration is willing to go. 

CASE’s GSIs are consistent with the GSIs provided to other state bargaining units that have already reached agreement during this round of bargaining and previously. The 3% GSI in the MOU’s second year is the second largest general salary increase provided to any unit during the Newsom Administration. 

Additionally, the CASE Bargaining Team was able to secure several significant Special Salary Adjustments. While these SSAs may not completely solve recruitment and retention issues facing Administrative Law Judges and mid-career legal professionals, they help move those classes forward in a meaningful way. 

Why present this deal for a vote?

Because there are real benefits in the total tentative agreement, and real consequences to rejecting it and staying out of contract beyond January 1, 2023. The CASE Bargaining Team, in good conscience, could not deny you your right to vote to ratify or to reject this total tentative agreement because ratification or rejection has an impact to your bottom line. 

Rejecting the MOU sends the parties back to the table for further negotiations. A new MOU would not be fully ratified before the start of the new year.

Are the benefits summarized above guaranteed to be there later if members reject the deal now?

Until a new total tentative agreement is reached, nothing is guaranteed, including the retroactivity of a later negotiated deal, and the parties remain at the bargaining table.

What is a “GSI” and what is an “SSA” and how do they differ?

GSI stands for “general salary increase” and is the term used to describe a raise that applies to everyone in the unit, regardless of classification, salary range, or salary step. So the 2.5% GSI retroactive to July 1, 2022 and the 3% GSI effective July 1, 2023 are raises that every single Unit 2 employee will see reflected in their paycheck. 

An “SSA” is a “special salary adjustment” that is applied to a specific group of people – it can be based on any number of factors like classification, salary range, or salary step. 

As of July 1, 2023, Administrative Law Judges at the top step of their class’s salary scale for the 12 preceding qualifying pay periods will receive a 4.5% raise. Similarly, as of July 1, 2024, all Unit 2 class incumbents (except Attorney IIIs and equivalent classes) who have been at the top step of their scale for the 12 preceding qualifying pay periods will receive a 4.5% raise. Attorney IIIs  (and equivalent classes) at the max for the 12 prior pay periods will receive a 10% increase.

I’m not at the top step, do I get nothing in 2024?

What you receive in the year 2024 and beyond will depend on your classification and range as of July 1, 2024. If you reach the top step in May, 2023, for example, on July 1, 2024, you would be moved to the new maximum salary which would be either 4.5% or 10% higher (depending on your classification). If you are not at the top step, you still receive Merit Salary Adjustments each year of 5% as well. Depending on your hiring date, for those not at top step in 2022, they may see an increase of up to 7.8% of their salary (5% MSA, 2.5% GSI, .3% savings on OPEB contributions). In 2023, those not at the top step would see their salaries increase 8% (5% MSA plus 3% GSI). 

These are permanent increases to the pay scales, so eventually, all members will benefit – as will their pension calculations.

I’m a DAG IV/Attorney IV, do the increases in this MOU mean DAG IIIs/Attorney IIIs will make more than I do?

CURRENT2022 w 2.5% GSI2023 w 3% GSI2024 top step 4.5%-10% increase
First StepTop StepFirst StepTop StepFirst StepTop StepFirst StepTop Step
DAG IV$11,020.00$14,149.00$11,295.50$14,502.73$11,634.37$14,937.81$11,634.37$15,610.01
DAG III$9,976.00$12,798.00$10,225.40$13,117.95$10,532.16$13,511.49$10,532.16$14,862.64

You said that addressing the salary relationship between ALJs and Attorneys was a team priority, but under this deal, ALJs still make less than Attorney IVs and Vs AND in some cases now even Attorney IIIs. WHY?

The Bargaining Team presented evidence of not just the salary lag between state ALJs and their federal peers and peers on the California State Bar Court, but also the negative impact to ALJ recruitment and retention – ALJs move back to Attorney classes with great frequency, negatively impacting the state’s ability to efficiently address the administrative hearing calendars at all agencies. The Team also explained the morale impacts of this misalignment. 

The Team stood their ground to secure a Special Salary Adjustment to advance ALJ salary relative to Attorney salaries, which you see in the current total tentative agreement.

While this deal does not complete the realignment that we urged the state to prioritize, nor does it tie state ALJ salaries to federal peers, it significantly improves salaries for ALJs and, when the NJC differential is factored in, puts each ALJ class within $70 or less of their peer Attorney class each month. 

Classification (partial list)Estimated max monthly salary in 2024, including 5% NJC differential
ATTORNEY V/DAG V$16,391.12
SENIOR ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE (ALJ III)$16,323.07
ATTORNEY IV/DAG IV$15,610.01
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE Range B (ALJ II)$15,545.89
ATTORNEY III/DAG III$14,862.64
ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE Range A (ALJ I)$14,818.35

Why did CASE drop its initial paid family leave proposal and why did CASE now agree to a version of the paid family leave benefit received by supervisors and managers?

Paid Family Leave was a priority of the membership and therefore a Bargaining Team priority. It is one part of a complete salary and benefit package that needs to retain current Unit 2 professionals and return the state to its status as employer-of-choice for the next generation of legal talent. 

The paid family leave benefit offered by CalHR is the same the state provided to supervisors and managers several years ago. It is called NDI-Family Care Leave and provides up to 6 weeks of 50% wage replacement which employees can supplement up to 75% or 100% of their salaries using available leave credits. To use this benefit, employees must be enrolled in Annual Leave. 

Unit 2 is the first rank-and-file unit in state history to secure this benefit. It provides paid leave for both birthing and non-birthing parents to bond with newly arrived children (through birth, adoption, or foster care placement) as well as providing paid leave for employees to care for ailing family members. For birthing parents, NDI-FCL works in tandem with Enhanced Non-Industrial Disability (ENDI). ENDI covers pregnancy and childbirth related medical leave, while NDI-FCL picks up after the conclusion of physician authorized medical leave to cover a bonding period of up to six weeks. Notably, this benefit is paid for by the state, unlike California Paid Family Leave which is available to Californians in private industry and in SEIU represented units at a cost of 1.1% of an employee’s wages each month.  And unlike SDI/CPFL benefits, there is no income cap meaning 50% of your salary is actually 50% of your salary, not artificially capped at the lower level. 

Unit 2 members and all Californians and Americans should have access to MORE paid family leave. That said, securing a fully-state-paid benefit at this time is a monumental advancement and marks the start, not the end, of CASE’s advocacy for better family leave benefits. 

What about telework? 

During negotiations, the CASE Bargaining Team proposed language to strengthen the availability of telework, limit the State’s ability to deny full time telework, and to increase the availability of work equipment necessary to facilitate employees working from home. The State made clear they would not give up authority over many aspects of the timing and location of employees’ work, nor agree to a one-size-fits-all solution to work equipment and telework across departments. CASE will continue to advocate for the State to provide maximum telework flexibility, as well as required equipment, to Unit 2 legal professionals by enforcing existing MOU provisions and meeting-and-conferring with Departments regarding the impact of adopted telework policies. 

What about longevity pay?

The CASE Bargaining Team pushed CalHR to implement longevity pay for Unit 2 professionals to address retention concerns within the unit. The State refused based in part on data indicating Unit 9 employees less likely to leave state service later in their careers, but are more likely to leave after the 6th or 7th year in service. This data, in part, motivated their offer of a 10% increase to the upper salary range of Attorney III and equivalent classes. 

What laws govern the relationship between CASE and the state when it comes to the MOU, salaries, and benefits?

The Dills Act (Government Code Section 3515 et seq) is the state employee collective bargaining law that sets rights and obligations of state employee unions and the state on labor relations matters. 

Can we strike?

The current MOU contains a no-strike provision. Though the current MOU expired on June 30, 2022, a provision in the Dills Act – the state employee collective bargaining law – says that all of the MOU’s rights, protections, and obligations continue to apply until either a successor agreement is reached, or impasse is declared.

What is “impasse?”

Impasse is a legal term of art which, in our context, is defined by precedential decisions from the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) as “a point at which the parties’ differences remain so substantial and prolonged that further meeting and conferring would be futile.” Authority to declare an impasse rests with PERB and they will determine whether the parties have reached impasse only if such a determination is requested by either, or both, parties. For more on the impasse process, click here (available to members only)

Why not force CalHR to binding arbitration? Mediation? Take them to court?

That’s not the way the laws governing collective bargaining in California work. There is no mechanism for forcing a party to enter into binding arbitration in California. While mediation is part of the impasse process with PERB, you can’t get to mediation if you don’t first get a declaration of impasse. PERB decisional law says the state’s hardline position isn’t, in and of itself, bad faith or evidence of impasse. Just because we think they are foolish to ignore the deleterious effects of recruitment and retention problems doesn’t make the state wrong in holding to their views – legally speaking. The Bargaining Team requested and advocated for mediation outside of the impasse process but CalHR wouldn’t agree and we couldn’t force them to meet us there. Even within the PERB impasse process, a mediator doesn’t have the authority to set the terms of a new MOU. Only the parties can negotiate and agree to MOU terms. The only exception is in the event of impasse where the STATE can impose its last best and final offer and that wasn’t a solution the Team was pushing for. 

What’s next?

More work and a lot of it. If this deal is ratified, the Bargaining Team may not be at the table with CalHR each week, but preparations for the 2025 bargaining cycle start the day the ratification vote closes. This Board is committed to continuing to elevate the public knowledge of and understanding of your work; building relationships within the administration and legislative communities; honing relationships with key media outlets to foster interest in your stories. If ratified, the MOU provides two additional tasks we will immediate begin working on: developing the framework for a better salary survey and advocating on behalf of improved business and travel benefits for CASE supervisor and manager members: because those improvements will be provided to CASE rank-and-file members as well as a function of the new MOU. 

We’re just getting started. 

Where can I read more?

You can read the text of the full total tentative agreement on the CalHR website

I have additional questions – how do I get them answered

?You can email case@calattorneys.org at any time and CASE Members can attend one of our virtual town halls with members of the Bargaining Team (Members will receive dates and registration information on Tuesday, August 23).

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