Unit 10 CA State Scientists
United States of America

We at the California Department of Health in Richmond are calling out to all State of California Unit 10 Professional Scientific Employees to join us in a movement for pay parity (salary adjustments) and more opportunities for promotion.

Due to the as yet unsuccessful negotiations of the CAPS union we have felt the need to express the issue of pay parity directly with our supervisors and upper management in order to promote progress at the negotiation table. So far over 100 signatures have been obtained on the Richmond campus and two separate letters have been sent up the chain of command all the way to Governor Brown’s office.

While these letters have caught the attention of State administrators, we need support State-wide from all Unit 10 Professional Scientific Employees in order to show strength at the upcoming negotiations on January 17, 2014. While we strongly urge you to write letters and talk with your supervisors, we find ourselves at a critical moment and need the support of all Unit 10 Professional Scientists to be heard.

Thus, we have compiled this letter in the form of an on-line petition platform in order to garner the support and reach the many Unit 10 Professional Scientific Employees distributed in laboratories and field offices throughout California. By signing this letter/petition, we can show CalHR/Governor’s office, CAPS negotiators, and all Department heads that we, State of California Unit 10 Professional Scientific Employees, are united and demand full pay parity with our peers as the outcome of the upcoming contract negotiations.

We encourage you to sign the letter, share it with other Unit 10 members as well as with your administrative chain of command.

This letter serves to address the serious issues that affect all State of California Unit 10 Professional Scientific Employees.

The primary issue is that our current salary ranges lag far behind comparable positions in city, county and federal government as well as in the private sector by as much as 40-73%. Salaries have trailed behind those of other public sector agencies for over 25 years.

The problem is our current salary ranges are antiquated and are too low to keep experienced and well qualified scientists in state positions. Additionally, Professional Scientific Employees have not had a cost of living adjustment since 2007.

It is disheartening and frustrating to see workers in other bargaining units receive raises (BART, DWR, DMV) while Unit 10 Scientist salaries stagnate. As a result, there is a significant problem with recruitment and retention. The alarmingly high turnover rate of well trained and experienced State Scientists affects the ability of the State to be competitive and thus attract qualified candidates to fill positions. The endless cycles of hiring, training and then losing a scientist is not a trivial expense for the taxpayer; every employee who leaves state service costs the tax payer in lost investment (ranging from $10,000s-$100,000s). External grant funding is often lost as well; since projects cannot be completed grants are not renewed and the strength of public science is diminished. The high turnover rate of new, well-trained state scientists leaves experienced mid-level state scientists, who would otherwise move into supervisory/managerial positions, doing entry level work.

Without promotional opportunities, long term succession planning within a program may be compromised additionally leading to problems of retention. The lack of promotional opportunities for mid-level Professional Scientific Employees de-stabilizes the workforce infrastructure and leads to an unhealthy, unsustainable organization that is unfit to meet the demands of the program.

Professional Scientific Employees perform jobs that are critical to keeping California a safe and healthy environment for the public. Professional Scientific Employees have many specialized jobs which require a high degree of expertise in their field. As such, most State Scientists hold higher education academic degrees (Bachelors, Masters or PhDs) or professional degrees (MD, MPH, DVM) in their respective fields. Many Professional Scientific Employees deal with hazardous materials and biological agents every day and make critical decisions that not only advance California’s economy but also protect the health of 30 million Californians. Unfortunately, if we do our jobs properly, we are invisible to the public eye. When we are out of the public’s eye, Californians and politicians do not recognize the enormous contributions of State Scientists and we are simply taken for granted.

We are all committed to building a high quality workforce that retains motivated and dedicated employees who promote scientific innovation and maintain institutionally acquired scientific experience and knowledge. However, due to low salaries and the lack of promotional opportunities, morale is low and as a result innovation and institutional experience are lost due to diminished incentives and heightened frustration with the system. We need your help to show that Professional Scientific Employees are united. Here are the key issues Unit 10 Scientists would like to see movement on at the negotiating table:

1. Pay Parity: The 2011-2013 MOU Sec 17.3 requires CalHR and CAPS to jointly survey benchmark classifications. The disparity of these benchmarks has long been known to all parties. Now is the time to remedy the salary disparity between scientists and engineers at the State level, and the disparity between State scientists and local agency scientists. It has long been promised that this would be the highest priority of CalHR. Fulfilling this promise is long overdue. With other unions receiving immediate inequity adjustments of 7.5% or more, Professional Scientific Employees must no longer be overlooked. Recruitment and retention of highly qualified scientists has been problematic and has impacted the role of public scientific work and our ability to protect the public Salaries need to be adjusted accordingly to the current cost of living in California in order to compete with other employers both in the public and private sector.

2. Promotional Opportunities: Drastically improve promotional opportunities for Professional Scientific Employees by removing unnecessary administrative hurdles. Once Unit 10 Professional Scientific Employees have reached their ceiling, after 5 years, they have exhausted the salary advancement for that position and can languish there for their entire career. Professional Scientific Employees require a promotion-in-place process as well as mechanisms for filling in position gaps for upward mobility opportunities. Promotion-in-place “processes” for some of our most qualified scientists have been IMPOSSIBLE as there is NO MECHANISM for this to occur.

State scientists acknowledge and appreciate all those working to make our jobs and workplace better. However there are many things that still need to be accomplished. State scientists need to be recognized for our work. Fair and competitive salaries, cost of living adjustments, and increased promotional opportunities will greatly improve the workforce infrastructure of CDPH and all other departments.

We know your time is valuable and we appreciate you taking the time to read this letter. As a group of scientists, we hope you find this letter informative to the pressing issues that urgently need to be addressed at the negotiation table.

If you support the ideals in this letter/petition we strongly encourage you to sign it AND to forward it to other Unit 10 Scientist colleagues throughout the state.

We appreciate your support!

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