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  • New contract for California prison guards lifts cap on saved vacation

    Deep in the 200-page contract that Gov. Jerry Brown recently approved for state prison guards is a provision that could generate a cash windfall to the officers when they retire.

    The guards, who are among Brown's largest political benefactors, would be able to save an unlimited number of vacation days under their new deal. When they leave state service, those days could be exchanged for cash at their final pay rate, which would probably be higher than when they earned the time off.

    The governor is extending this benefit only to members of the California Correctional Peace Officers Assn., a union that spent nearly $2 million to help him win election last year.

    Removing the decades-old limit on accrued vacation — now 80 days for most state employees — would be a "huge liability" for taxpayers, said Nick Schroeder of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. Schroeder said he had not determined the cost of lifting the cap, but his analysis of the deal showed the average corrections union member has accumulated nearly 19 weeks of leave time to date. All of that time off has "a current cash value of over $600 million," he said.

    The deal also would give the members 18 more days off over the life of the two-year contract, according to Schroeder, bringing the typical prison guard's time off to more than eight weeks in the first year.

    Also in the proposed contract is a change in a provision that encouraged corrections officers to remain physically fit. In the past, they could get up to $130 extra each month if they met certain fitness standards. In the new contract, they would be eligible for the money if they simply go to the doctor for an annual physical, Schroeder said.

    The contract still must be approved by the Legislature, which is dominated by Brown's fellow Democrats, and ratified by union members. After feuding bitterly with then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the union has been working without a formal contract since 2006. Brown, who would need the organization's support for a proposed ballot measure to renew billions of dollars in expiring taxes, moved quickly to forge a deal with the roughly 30,000-member organization.

    Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said the vacation cap had to be removed because work furloughs imposed by Schwarzenegger added so many days to corrections officers' time off that they "can't avoid exceeding the vacation cap."

    Many corrections officers worked days when other state employees stayed home on furlough, because prisons are a 24-hour operation. Their unpaid days off — about 36 per employee last year — have been added to the pool of vacation and sick time they can take in the future.

    Critics of the new contract say that removing the cap on vacation days will benefit many older union members who are nearing retirement and who have large amounts of saved vacation.

    "Jerry Brown has totally caved to these guys," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

    More than 3,500 corrections officer union members had more than 80 days of unused vacation and annual leave at the end of 2010, said Jacob Roper, a spokesman for the state controller's office.

    Even with the cap in place, it was not enforced, said Oscar Hidalgo, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Last year, corrections led all state departments in end-of-career payments for unused vacation and sick time, totaling $111 million, according to state payroll data.

    In all, 80 corrections union members got payouts exceeding $100,000 when they left state service in 2010. In most cases, those payments were well beyond the employee's annual salary.

    The average payout for corrections employees taking lump sums was $24,994. But one $97,000-a-year parole agent received a $268,990 payment for unused time off, the controller's records show. A $119,000-a-year prison administrator took away $243,308. A $70,000-a-year parole agent got $176,493.

    The only state employee union whose members are now allowed to exceed the 80-day limit is the California Assn. of Highway Patrolman, who can save up to 101 days of time off, according to Department of Personnel Administration spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley.

    The average Highway Patrol officer who cashed out unused time off last year received $33,284, records show. But the Highway Patrol has fewer employees, which means the department came in a distant second in overall spending for unused time, paying departing employees a total of $29 million.

    Brown's proposed budget assumed that the state could save $515 million in new deals struck with the six employee unions that have contracts pending. But the proposed agreements would fall short by $306 million, according to Schroeder.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la...,3637836.story
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

  • #2
    Originally posted by DAL View Post
    Removing the decades-old limit on accrued vacation — now 80 days for most state employees — would be a "huge liability" for taxpayers, said Nick Schroeder of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office. Schroeder said he had not determined the cost of lifting the cap, but his analysis of the deal showed the average corrections union member has accumulated nearly 19 weeks of leave time to date. All of that time off has "a current cash value of over $600 million," he said.
    Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said the vacation cap had to be removed because work furloughs imposed by Schwarzenegger added so many days to corrections officers' time off that they "can't avoid exceeding the vacation cap."

    Many corrections officers worked days when other state employees stayed home on furlough, because prisons are a 24-hour operation.

    Critics of the new contract say that removing the cap on vacation days will benefit many older union members who are nearing retirement and who have large amounts of saved vacation.

    "Jerry Brown has totally caved to these guys," said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.
    So what's Jon Coupal's answer to the problem (or his he just whining again)? The corrections officers earned the time off/pay not only for decades of work, but because they had to staff the prison 24/7 even during the prior governor's required work furloughs. We either have prisons to house those convicted and sentenced for violating tough laws like "3 Strikes" or we don't. We either staff them with qualified staff or we don't. Jon Coupal can't tell the legislature not to pay for services that have already been provided, but he sure isn't clamoring for our prisons to be releasing felons en mass either.
    "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

    Comment


    • #3
      The Ninth Circuit has told California to reduce prison population and the Supreme Court likely will affirm their order. Also, Jerry wants to send a lot of CDCR prisoners to local jails. That could lead to lay-offs of prison guards, who would be entitled to immediate payment for their furlough days. I think the only real fiscal solution would be a pay cut, which is unlikely.
      Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
      Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

      Comment


      • #4
        As Correctional Officers like to say "They work hardest beat in the state"
        Not all men can be U.S. Marines that is why there is the Army, Navy and Air Force.

        Comment


        • #5
          Shifting all those inmates to county jails should create the need to do mass hiring on the local level.
          What is Perseverance?
          -Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance.
          -Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.
          -PERSEVERANCE IS TRYING AGAIN AND AGAIN.


          BOP - BPA - ICE

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TheKansan View Post
            Shifting all those inmates to county jails should create the need to do mass hiring on the local level.
            It wont create the need...the need is already there.
            It really doesn't matter anyway; there isn't money to hire more officers. In many cases, there isn't even enough money to keep the current, bare bones levels.
            "I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." Winston Churchill

            Liberals are very broadminded: they are always willing to give careful consideration to both sides of the same side.

            Comment


            • #7
              I like how politicians at the state level, not just in California, but all over the US, have realized that the best way to save money is to push costs down to the local level. In fact that is how my state is balancing it's budget as well. The governor and legislature brag about not raising taxes, and cutting costs to balance the budget. Yet the city/county have to raise property taxes and sales tax to cover the cuts the state made. So in the end, our taxes still went up, and the cuts the state made were nothing more than an illusion.
              What is Perseverance?
              -Perseverance is commitment, hard work, patience, endurance.
              -Perseverance is being able to bear difficulties calmly and without complaint.
              -PERSEVERANCE IS TRYING AGAIN AND AGAIN.


              BOP - BPA - ICE

              Comment


              • #8
                What many people don't understand is that there was no system in place to allow us the use of furlough time. They implemented a program to accrue this time, but no real way to then utilize it. When we took vacations and other pre-scheduled days off, we had to use the furlough time first, allowing for vacation time to build up. This time could not be used for sick calls. I know guys with 500 hours of furlough on the books. Trust me, we did not ask for this.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by richjorg View Post
                  What many people don't understand is that there was no system in place to allow us the use of furlough time.
                  This whole situation sounds eerily like what the City of Los Angeles did to LAPD officers' accumulated comp time that was earned during the Rodney King riots. The time was on the books, but the department refused to let officers take it because (it was claimed):
                  1) There was insufficient personnel to cover the shift affected.
                  2) It would be necessary to (force) hire over needed personnel and those officers would then accumulate additional time off (that couldn't be used).

                  Ultimately, the city was taken to civil court and the end result was the largest civil award ever lodged against Los Angeles. (It made the settlement paid out to King look like small potatoes.)
                  "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pulicords View Post
                    This whole situation sounds eerily like what the City of Los Angeles did to LAPD officers' accumulated comp time that was earned during the Rodney King riots. The time was on the books, but the department refused to let officers take it because (it was claimed):
                    1) There was insufficient personnel to cover the shift affected.
                    2) It would be necessary to (force) hire over needed personnel and those officers would then accumulate additional time off (that couldn't be used).

                    Ultimately, the city was taken to civil court and the end result was the largest civil award ever lodged against Los Angeles. (It made the settlement paid out to King look like small potatoes.)
                    This was the problem. A prison is a 24/7/365 operation. If officers were given actual furlough time off, it would require another officer to cover the post resulting in that officer getting paid OT. The Governator screwed the people of CA with this one. A group of state senators sent Arnie a letter detailing how the furloughs were not saving any money, but were in fact costing money; of course this fell on deaf ears.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Believe me when I tell you that alot of C/O's do not like this current contract. This contract has alot more takeaways than giveaways by the state. We all know that when the state takes things away they take them away forever. Especially those of us that are Parole Agents. If they want the POFF II then they can take it just let me roll it over to a regular 401k. Want me to contribute more into my retirement fine just pay me what I was told I would make when I began the job. I know the state is in financial trouble and as a taxpayer I know there isn't alot of money out there that the state can give in monetary contributions. All I ask for is that we get a fair contract and not the POS one the union is telling us to vote for.

                      The realignment will cause the state to eliminate about 2/3s of the Division of Parole which will send alot of Parole Agents that started in the prisons to go back or looking for work else where. Those Parole Agents that came from Probation will most likely be looking for work else where also. This will dump alot of non violent/non serious non HRSO on the counties. This will most likely plug up the courts, the jails and lots of other county agencies. Which may cause those parolees that were arrested merely let go or at the most spend a month in jail (the state will pick up the tab for the first month).

                      This whole realignment was to be paid for with the extension of the vehicle license fees. Since the Republicans fought to keep the tax extensions off the ballot, Brown has no way to fund the program. However, it was signed into law so I'm sure they may get the money from somewhere.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        When I retired 2 1/2 years ago officers were complaining about how many parolees they arrested for various violations were being released, even when the originating offense was "serious." Now, those offenders as well as "non-violent/non-serious" violators are going to be ignored unless they've actually committed a new crime and not just violated their conditions of parole. Because of the heavy caseload parole officers faced, lack of jail/prison space, etc..., parolees weren't too concerned about restrictions then. Now.....?

                        I'm confident that the years of relatively low crime we've experienced are about to come to a screeching halt, in large part because the party (mine) that always claimed to be about "law and order" aren't about to fund it.
                        "I'm not fluent in the language of violence, but I know enough to get around in places where it's spoken."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...510530398.html


                          California Prison Academy: Better Than a Harvard Degree
                          Prison guards can retire at the age of 55 and earn 85% of their final year's salary for the rest of their lives. They also continue to receive medical benefits. By ALLYSIA FINLEY

                          Roughly 2,000 students have to decide by Sunday whether to accept a spot at Harvard. Here's some advice: Forget Harvard. If you want to earn big bucks and retire young, you're better off becoming a California prison guard.

                          The job might not sound glamorous, but a brochure from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations boasts that it "has been called 'the greatest entry-level job in California'—and for good reason. Our officers earn a great salary, and a retirement package you just can't find in private industry. We even pay you to attend our academy." That's right—instead of paying more than $200,000 to attend Harvard, you could earn $3,050 a month at cadet academy.

                          It gets better.

                          Training only takes four months, and upon graduating you can look forward to a job with great health, dental and vision benefits and a starting base salary between $45,288 and $65,364. By comparison, Harvard grads can expect to earn $49,897 fresh out of college and $124,759 after 20 years.

                          As a California prison guard, you can make six figures in overtime and bonuses alone. While Harvard-educated lawyers and consultants often have to work long hours with little recompense besides Chinese take-out, prison guards receive time-and-a-half whenever they work more than 40 hours a week. One sergeant with a base salary of $81,683 collected $114,334 in overtime and $8,648 in bonuses last year, and he's not even the highest paid.

                          Sure, Harvard grads working in the private sector get bonuses, too, but only if they're good at what they do. Prison guards receive a $1,560 "fitness" bonus just for getting an annual check-up.

                          Most Harvard grads only get three weeks of vacation each year, even after working for 20 years—and they're often too busy to take a long trip. Prison guards, on the other hand, get seven weeks of vacation, five of them paid. If they're too busy racking up overtime to use their vacation days, they can cash the days in when they retire. There's no cap on how many vacation days they can cash in! Eighty officers last year cashed in over $100,000 at retirement.

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                          The cherry on top is the defined-benefit pension. Unlike most Harvard grads working in the private sector, prison guards don't have to delay retirement if their 401(k)s take a hit. Prison guards can retire at the age of 55 and earn 85% of their final year's salary for the rest of their lives. They also continue to receive medical benefits.

                          So you may be wondering what it takes to become a prison guard. For one, you have to be a U.S. citizen with a high-school diploma or equivalent. Unfortunately, you can't have any felony convictions, but don't worry, possession of marijuana is only an infraction in California.

                          There's also a vision test, background investigation, psychological evaluation, physical exam, tuberculosis screening, and a fitness test that measures your grip strength. The hardest part, however, is the written test, which includes word problems like this sample test question: "Building D currently has 189 inmates, with 92 beds unfilled. Building D is currently at what capacity?" If you've somehow forgotten how to add and divide, you can bone up on your basic math with Barron's "Correction Officer Exam" prep book.

                          The application process may seem like a piece of cake compared to Harvard's, but the correctional officer academy is actually more selective than Harvard. Over 120,000 people apply every year, according to the state Legislative Analyst's Office, but the academy only enrolls about 900. That's an acceptance rate of less than 1%. Harvard's is 6.2%. The job also has a better retention rate than Harvard. Only 1.7% dropped out of the service last year, compared to 2% who left Harvard.

                          If your parents aren't thrilled about you turning down Harvard to become a prison guard in California, just show them the job brochure. Then explain that in another few years instead of paying off thousands of dollars in college loans you'll be taking cruises together. They'll be speechless.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hmmmm....LA County employees can bank 480 hours of vacation time. I thought that was on the low side.
                            sigpic
                            Originally posted by Smurfette
                            Lord have mercy. You're about as slick as the business side of duct tape.
                            Originally posted by DAL
                            You are without doubt a void surrounded by a sphincter muscle.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              In private enterprise, you are lucky to be able to carry any unused vacation over to the next year. If you can the cap is more likely to be about four weeks.
                              Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                              Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

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