While he was governor, Gray Davis approved a plum contract for the state’s 30,000 prison guards that effectively gave the California Correctional Peace Officers Association management control over the state’s prison system.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger worked to wrest back control of the prisons from the CCPOA. But now that he is governor, Jerry Brown is reversing those hard-earned reforms on behalf of a major campaign contributor.
If this were a movie, we’d call it “Contract Giveaway: The Return of Gray,” starring Jerry Brown.
Given that the state’s corrections system is a major driver of state spending, the stakes are immense in any new contract for prison officers. Yet the Brown administration has released a 218-page proposed 2011-13 contract document that is loaded with barely legible handwritten notes and cross-outs. Whole swaths of the corrections system, such as parole, remain to be negotiated. Estimates of costs are woefully inadequate. The Legislative Analyst’s Office admits that its one-week review of this “extraordinarily complex” document is not enough to determine full costs to taxpayers.
Here’s just a sample of the potential damage in the proposed contract:
• Gone would be training to break the infamous “code of silence.” Back are provisions that have the effect of discouraging reporting of incidents and encouraging retaliation against whistle-blowers.
• The Davis provision allowing the union to fill 70 percent of all prison posts by seniority would return in full force. Management should be in charge of assigning all posts, not 30 percent.
• Gone would be reforms allowing management to investigate and take “corrective or disciplinary action” for sick leave abuses. Back are provisions allowing prison officers to collect overtime pay in a week in which they call in sick. Expect overtime costs of $500 million-plus.
• Because of new “days off” provisions, starting employees would have eight weeks of paid time off each year (more for senior employees). Most would not be able to use it all, but the contract would allow them to cash it out at retirement. Gone is the vacation cap – allowing no more than 80 days each year to carry over. No “use it or lose it” policy here.
• Each officer would be required to contribute one hour of vacation time a month, plus one hour each July 1, to a “time release bank” for union representatives to do union business on state time. Before 2001, the CCPOA could not “accumulate or use” more than 10,000 hours over five years. That cap would be gone, providing unlimited time – including new release time for 10 guards at each prison to attend the CCPOA annual convention.
• Any guard who gets an annual medical exam would be paid $130 every pay period. The contract is not clear whether that pay comes every 11 days or every 28 days. Either is outrageous. Before the Davis contract, officers had to pass fitness tests.
• Back in full force is the “entire agreement” clause allowing the union to challenge and interfere in virtually any change by prison management. That means Schwarzenegger-era changes go back to the table at CCPOA request.
• Prison guard salary increases would continue to be linked to the average compensation of sheriff’s deputies in Los Angeles County and police in Los Angeles, San Diego, Oakland and San Francisco – ceding city and county governments control over state prison pay.