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Strike Authorization FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

LBFO FAQs

LBFO FAQs

What does the State’s Last, Best, and Final Offer (LBFO) that was presented to the Bargaining Team include?
Why wasn’t the LBFO brought to the membership for a vote?
Why did the Bargaining Team reject the State’s LBFO?
What if the Bargaining Team had accepted the LBFO?
Does the membership get to vote on whether to accept or reject the State’s LBFO?
What happens now that the LBFO has been rejected?
What is next, where do we go from here?
How does the salary proposal within the LBFO differ from CalHR’s last salary proposal?
Will we receive the raises included in the LBFO that was presented to us?
How does the projected State deficit affect our bargaining position going forward?
Does the ongoing PERB case affect our ability to engage in strikes and other forms of work stoppages now and in the immediate future?
What changes to the contract would we be striking for?
What happens if we don’t go on strike again?
Can we try anything other than striking first?
Have strikes worked for other California State employees?
Will others support us?
Do we have a strike fund or any strike benefits in place?
How can I prepare for a potential strike?
Can I be fired or disciplined for going on strike?
What is a ratification vote?

What does the State’s Last, Best, and Final Offer (LBFO) that was presented to the Bargaining Team include? 

  • The State proposed a contract term of December 1, 2023 – July 1, 2026, unless a specific provision provides for a different effective date (an example is 2.1 Salaries).
  • Summary of the State’s LBFO Proposals for Major Economic Items:
    • Salaries: They included the salary proposal they passed on August 29, which is summarized here.
      • This proposal did not include any retroactivity (even though we’ve been out of a contract since 2020). Rather, raises would have been implemented “effective the first pay period following ratification by both parties.”
      • The proposal included a salary increase the first pay period following ratification, then a second salary increase effective July 1, 2024, and a third salary increase effective July 1, 2025. There were no proposed salary increases in 2026, the last year of the proposed contract term.
    • The LBFO did NOT offer any compensation specifically to address regional differences in cost of living, loss of institutional knowledge, or increasing employer health care cost contributions, among other CAPS proposals. The state currently provides all of these accommodations to other bargaining units working for the State.
  • No Strike Clause:
    • The State included a proposed rollover of previous 13.1 language, which would prevent State Scientists from striking during the terms of the MOU. This cannot be imposed upon us by the governor. Read on for an explanation as to why.
  • Sections previously TA’d made up a majority of the State’s LBFO.
  • A complete, updated summary of all the not-yet TA’d sections within the State’s LBFO can be found here.

Why wasn’t the LBFO brought to the membership for a vote? 

  • The LBFO provided the same terms that prompted thousands of CAPS members to go on strike in November 2023. It was also not substantially different from the offer that was overwhelmingly voted down by CAPS members in February 2023.
  • For many, the LBFO may have been worse than the tentative agreement that CAPS Members rejected in February 2023, as the majority of State Scientists are not at the top of their pay range. Increasing a pay range at the top only means that it takes longer to get to the top of the pay range. Typically, a pay range takes about five years to move through. Adding more to the top (and not moving up the entire range) means that some State Scientists may never make it to the top of their pay range because the median retention for a rank-and-file State Scientist is only five years. Not by choice, but because they are forced to leave since the State treats State Scientists like we are disposable. Top range increases leave everyone else out.
  • The LBFO failed to keep pace with inflation, much less address long-standing and increasingly egregious pay gaps and pay equity issues important to CAPS members, based on the 2023 Bargaining Survey results:
    • 87% of respondents said restoring historical salary relationships is a priority.
    • 85% of respondents report they make less than others who perform similar jobs in comparable positions
    • 80% of respondents strongly disagree that their pay is fair based on the work they perform.
  • Making even further concessions by agreeing to an LBFO that does not meet our core needs makes no sense.

Why did the Bargaining Team reject the State’s LBFO? 

The LBFO provided the same terms that prompted thousands of CAPS members to go on strike in November, 2023, and are not substantially different from the offer that was overwhelmingly voted down in February, 2023. The membership had already expressed its condemnation of these terms. The LBFO fails to even keep pace with inflation, much less address long-standing and increasingly egregious pay gaps and pay equity issues. It was especially bad for the majority of CAPS members who are not at the top of their pay range, which is about 62% of rank-and-file State Scientists.

By rejecting the LBFO, we retain our rights to disruptive collective actions (e.g., strikes, walk outs, etc.), and are entitled to continue negotiations for better terms, which we have every right and intention to carry out.

What if the Bargaining Team had accepted the LBFO? 

If the Bargaining Team had accepted the State’s LBFO, it would have been brought to the CAPS members for a ratification vote. (See What is a ratification vote?)

Based on the results of our 2023 Bargaining Survey, the high participation in our first ever strike, and that the membership voted down a similar offer in February of 2023, the Bargaining Team felt confident that the membership would have overwhelming voted to reject the LBFO. If the Bargaining Team accepted the State’s LBFO, it by the Bargaining team would have signaled false belief that the State’s minimalist and obstinate offer was adequate, despite it failing to even acknowledge our union’s core demands and unit-specific inequities.

If the LBFO was not ratified by the CAPS membership, we’d be in the same position as we were in February of 2023, likely starting the bargaining process all over again.  

If, unexpectedly, a majority of those voting were to have accepted the LBFO, the terms of the new contract would take effect upon the conclusion of the ratification vote and the California State Legislature’s ratification. This would mean we’d be locked into meager pay increases that do not keep up with inflation, without the chance to negotiate better terms, through 2026. Any raises in 2026 would be dependent on our next contract. We would also give up our ability to go on strike when warranted.

If the Bargaining Team accepted the State’s LBFO, undoubtedly many people who made significant sacrifices for the strike action would feel betrayed and the union would be weakened significantly.

which is also the same position we’re in currently by rejecting the LBFO outright, right?

Does the membership get to vote on whether to accept or reject the State’s LBFO? 

No.

What happens now that the LBFO has been rejected? 

With the rejection of the State’s LBFO, Government Code Section 3517.8 allows the State to impose “any or all” of their LBFO. Any parts that are imposed cannot be regressive.

The State can unilaterally impose contract terms, but only until a collectively bargained agreement can be reached. Just the same, however, the unionized employees are free to decline to work under these terms and can continue to strike instead. While workers would not have the chance to accept or reject the imposed contract in the short term, it’s not the case that workers would necessarily be stuck with whatever contract the State decides to unilaterally impose. If workers continue to exercise their collective power by striking and imposing economic costs on the State, the State could be compelled to move in bargaining toward giving workers a better contract.

What is next, where do we go from here? 

It’s up to all of us to continue to fight for a fair contract for State Scientists, one that provides equal pay for equal work and with reasonable benefits the State already provides other Bargaining Units. This will involve bringing CalHR back to the bargaining table early and often and employing every possible leverage of power any pressure we can exert.  Our bargaining power is proportional to the strength of the union, represented by our show of solidarity.

So stay active and engaged; your participation and communication are vital!

  • Via the Contract Action Team (CAT) and CAPS leadership, we are working to build and maintain a coalition of supporters, using our collective knowledge to identify and reach out to key parties for their partnership in this fight.
  • We will continue to communicate and work with our legislative partners to build political momentum at the Capitol, which will also be key going forward.
  • We encourage you to speak out, to use your networks to build support and political pressure too, by word-of-mouth and/or through social media. We will also be attentive and opportunistically active in news cycles, putting the value of our work front and center.

Our work is important and everyone ought to know we provide tremendous value to the State. Our cause is just and with merit, and we will press our case in the halls of power and across the State.

How does the salary proposal within the LBFO differ from CalHR’s last salary proposal? 

The salary proposal within the State’s LBFO is the same proposal that they passed on August 29, 2023 which is summarized here.

Will we receive the raises included in the LBFO that was presented to us? 

Anything involving the expenditure of funds must go to the Legislature for approval. 

How does the projected State deficit affect our bargaining position going forward? 

We have offered solutions in record-surplus flush years.  Last year, on May 9, 2023, when the State was in a surplus, the Governor stalled more than 100 days before responding with essentially the same offer that members had already rejected.

This issue has been going on since at least 2003 and every year that goes by, we are falling further and further behind. State budgets go through boom-and-bust cycles. Climate change, threats to public health and our natural resources, challenges to food security, and other scientific crises don’t cycle up and down. They’re ever-present and are trending to get worse. So, when this governor says there’s no money to equitably compensate the State Scientists who are the backbone of programs that are meeting those challenges, he’s placing a priority on politics over science-driven policy. Every Governor says there’s no money for salaries in hard times, and in good times they say hard times are coming.  For example, Governor Newsom furloughed state employees a few years ago because of fears that COVID would wreck the economy. When the opposite happened, and state revenues set records and had a historic budget surplus, he continued furloughing us for several more months anyway.  So, if the question is whether economic concerns make bargaining for a fair contract more difficult, they make no difference. Governors say the same thing, regardless of financial or budgetary conditions.

The projected deficit will be used by a lot of people as an excuse to prolong pay inequity- undoubtedly, as if scientific work is some kind of governmental charity or luxury expense. Yet the protection of public health, water and wildlife resources, agriculture and food safety, etc., are vital, in good times and bad. We are a small bargaining unit, one of the smallest in California state service. So when you cost out fair pay for state scientists, it is an exceedingly small (and prudent) contribution; less than 1/10 of 1% of the State budget (assuming budget is $310B (or even after being reduced by a projected deficit of $68B to $242B), our ask is roughly $180M). So if the budget on hand was $100, we’re asking for the equivalent of about 6¢ (or 7¢ with deficit). It’s a good deal for California and in line with the declared priorities of the governor and most legislators. Achieving pay equity isn’t about the budget. It never has been; the State’s offer is the same as it was when we had massive budget surpluses. It is about political will and priorities.  Paying scientists will not keep any other State priority from being realized (having $99.93 instead of $100 still allows for plenty of expenditures). Not paying state scientists is like not paying your health or car insurance because you are trying to save a dime (or less than a dime!). It is bad money management and a false economy.

Obviously, CalHR should have offered a decent contract three years ago. Instead, they have let us wither on the vine and pay gaps have expanded. They continue to expand. The gaps are ridiculous and need to be eliminated. Pay equity isn’t ridiculous though, and we’ve had this modest request for a very long time. The State has let this get ugly.

Does the ongoing PERB case affect our ability to engage in strikes and other forms of work stoppages now and in the immediate future? 

No. The PERB case will decide if the ‘Evergreen Clause’ remains in effect after impasse is declared (fortunately for us, it doesn’t: Government Code Section 3517.8). That’s a separate matter. Now that the State has presented their LBFO to us, we are at a different point. The State cannot impose anything in an LBFO that would waive our statutory rights. The law on this is settled. We maintain our statutory right to strike at this time.

What changes to the contract would we be striking for? 

Read a summary of the proposals we are fighting for here and about our unit’s longstanding inequities.

What happens if we don’t go on strike again? 

We will continue to do everything in our power to reach a fair contract and advance our core demands, as far as we can. Without a credible possibility of a strike, though, we have limited leverage (if at all), in negotiations.

Can we try anything other than striking first? 

We have been bargaining with the State in good faith since January 2020. We have built a Contract Action Team (CAT), written hundreds of letters, signed and delivered petitions, hosted marches, teach-ins, phone campaigns, participated in social media storms, among dozens of other structure tests building up to this point. We’ve communicated data, statistics, member testimony, presented logic and reason at the table. We have compromised at the table and in other areas and offered to work in partnership with the State’s team to find a way we could address our unit’s longstanding issues.

Even after all of this, the State continues to refuse to acknowledge that State Scientists deserve equal pay for equal work. Everything that the State has presented us to this has been minimal, or actually would make things worse for us (especially as it relates to creating further inequities in our unit within classifications). As the subject matter experts (SMEs) who have observed bargaining can testify, the State is unresponsive to our issues and does not have a genuine desire to treat their employees with respect or ensure equity is reestablished for State Scientists. We will continue to work with the State and negotiate at the bargaining table, and we are still doing everything in our power to organize other actions to influence this Administration, but a supermajority strike is our greatest power.

Have strikes worked for other California State employees? 

CAPS is the only California state civil service employee union in California to ever go on strike. We do know, strikes and collective action work. We can look at other unions under PERB-governed statutes for examples:

  • In 2022, graduate student researchers and academic student workers at the University of California (UAW 5810, UAW 2865, & SRU-UAW) won their contracts after their historic strike.
  • The 2019 United Teacher’s Los Angeles (UTLA) teacher’s strike. There was supermajority participation and authorization of this action. 30,000 teachers walked out of class and onto the picket line in what became the first such strike in Los Angeles in thirty years.
  • In 2021, University Council American Federation of Teachers (UC AFT) won their contract while at impasse in 2021.
  • AFSCME 3299 and UPTE also have a record of successful strikes. They have stopped outsourcing, won significant pay increases, and defended against benefits takeaways.
  • The California Nurses Association has won many important wins with just a credible strike threat. UPS workers were also able to avert a strike in 2023 through their strong participation in collective actions, making them a credible strike threat. This means that their employer believes a supermajority of their membership will actually go on strike. A credible strike threat can help us avoid a strike and still win big in our next contract.
  • In December 2023 the Union of American Physicians and Dentists were able to avert a strike as well.
  • For labor unions, 2023 was the year of the strike and big wins! There were successful strikes across industries, some examples include: UAW’s big three auto workers, Kaiser Permanente workers, Hollywood actors and writers, SoCal’s hotel workers, Oakland teachers, and more!

Strong, supermajority participation must happen with ALL union actions, from the lowest to the highest risk, in order to build and demonstrate union power. We can enthusiastically and effectively bargain, but if we don’t have a strong, democratic union with high member participation, we have less power at the bargaining table and in general. You and your colleagues ARE the union. Strikes work!

Will others support us if we strike? 

Yes. Our plan is to build our power primarily through engaging our own members. But we also need the support of our partner groups, elected officials, and other state workers. So we will actively be organizing with those key parties and groups to make our strike successful.

During our November 15-17, 2023 Defiance for Science strike, many other unions showed up to the line in solidarity including: the California Labor Federation, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Sacramento Central Labor Council, United Auto Workers Local 2865, Sacramento IWW, SEIU Local 1000, CASE, the Union of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 447 as well as organizations like NorCal Resist, Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), and Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL). Elected officials Senator Toni Adkins, Sacramento City Council member Katie Valenzuela, and more showed up to walk our picket lines as well. We were featured positively on many news outlets including: The Washington Post, The Associated Press, USA Today, Politico, NPR, California City News, CapRadio, KCLU, CalMatters, Univision, KSBW8, KRCR7, KCRA3, CBS13The Sacramento Bee, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Redding Record Searchlight, San Jose Inside, and more. Check out our Contract website to see more about the media attention and support we’ve been getting recently.

Do we have a strike fund or any strike benefits in place? 

The CAPS Strike Hardship Fund was established to support rank-and-file members who participate in CAPS-authorized strikes or job actions which increases our ability to win a contract that properly Values Scientists! The Strike Hardship Fund will be used to provide financial support (Strike Hardship Pay) to eligible members who experience acute or exceptional financial hardships because they are not paid by the State as a result of the strike.

How can I prepare for a potential strike? 

Start saving where you can. Be sure that you are signed up to receive emails and text updates on our personal emails and cell phones, here, in case the State locks us out from using their communication networks and we need to take communications offline. Stay up to date with what is going on, talk to your colleagues, sign up to become a strike captain.

Can I be fired or disciplined for going on strike? 

State employees have a statutory right to strike, and you cannot be fired or disciplined for participating in a legal, Union-led strike. A strike is a protected activity, and it is illegal for an employer to threaten an employee with discipline.

As a properly authorized strike and with you conducting yourself professionally, there is little the State can do about you striking without the State violating the law.

What is a ratification vote? 

The contract ratification vote is when CAPS rank-and-file members determine whether or not to accept the terms of the agreement that has been tentatively agreed-to (TA’d) between the State and your CAPS Bargaining Team. A simple majority of the eligible votes received determines the outcome of the vote.

Impasse-related FAQs

PERB precedent defines “impasse” as when the parties have reached a point in their negotiations at which further meetings without the assistance of a mediator would be futile.

Yes, you can see the request, the State’s response, and PERB’s decision here: https://capscontract.org/state-board-determines-caps-at-impasse-with-governor/

CAPS believes that regressive means lesser than what was presented at the table.

The CAPS Bargaining Team reached a total tentative agreement in 2022. The membership rejected that Total Tentative Agreement in early 2023, which is one of the reasons why the current negotiations have reached a stalemate.

No. Impasse could potentially leave us in the situation where we have an imposed contract that doesn’t meet our needs, and where we, the union, exercise our power of collective action by withholding our labor to force a change in working terms and conditions. Should we come to a Tentative Agreement, it would replace the imposed contract terms.

Yes. The State may not unilaterally impose a waiver of the right to strike, even after bargaining in good faith to impasse. Learn more on our Bargaining Procedures webpage (https://capsscientists.org/caps-bargaining/procedures/).

An impasse was declared on Sept 26, 2023. You can review the filing documents and the decision here: (https://capscontract.org/state-board-determines-caps-at-impasse-with-governor/).

For bona fide impasse to exist, the party declaring impasse must have been bargaining in good faith up until that point. Requests for PERB to determine impasse may be filed jointly or by either party. If a request is filed unilaterally, a proof of service on the responding party must accompany the request. PERB determines if impasse exists. In determining whether an impasse exists, PERB investigates and may consider the number and length of negotiating sessions between the parties, the time period over which the negotiations have occurred, the extent to which the parties have made and discussed counter-proposals to each other, the extent to which the parties have reached tentative agreement on issues during the negotiations, the extent to which unresolved issues remain, and other relevant data. Please review the Bargaining Procedures for more information (https://capsscientists.org/caps-bargaining/procedures/).

There has been one other instance where PERB has determined impasse for a state employee bargaining unit.

The CAPS Team are working closely with the CAPS legal team to review any potential instances of bad faith bargaining for potential Unfair Labor Practice filings.

STRIKE RELATED FAQS

CAPS called for a rolling 3-day strike on November 15, 16, and 17. Instead of striking all worksites at once, select worksites will be called to walk out on strike on November 15th and 16th. On November 17th, all State Scientists throughout California will be on strike. Scientists that are NOT called on to join the strike on November 15th and 16th will keep working until all State Scientists are on strike.

November 15, 2023: All Rank-and-File Unit 10 Scientists who work in CAPS District 3 (zip codes 95600 – 95894) are on strike and shall withhold their labor –

  • The picket line for all District 3 Scientists will be at the CalEPA Building (1001 I Street, Sacramento). November 16, 2023: All Rank-and-File Unit 10 Scientists who work in CAPS Districts 1 (zip codes 90000 – 93199), 3 (zip codes 95600 – 95894), and 4 (zip codes 94003 – 95005) are on strike and shall withhold their labor –
  • District 3 will continue to picket at the CalEPA Building (1001 I Street, Sacramento).
  • District 1 will picket at multiple locations, including Junipero Serra Building (320 4th St, Los Angeles). * 
  • District 4 will picket at multiple locations, including Oakland State Building (1515 Clay Street, Oakland). *
  • The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board at 5550 Skylane Blvd STE A, Santa Rosa CA, and the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board Northern Field Office at 930 6th Street Eureka, CA, shall withhold their labor.

*Strike Captains and Picket Locations Available here: https://airtable.com/appdthWIkbEcHAXvZ/shrq7pKnZRq53yy6x.

Apply to be a Strike Captain here: https://form.jotform.com/233127176078155

November 17, 2023: ALL STATE SCIENTISTS ON STRIKE. All Rank-and-File Unit 10 Scientists are on strike and shall withhold their labor. 

  • District 3 will continue to picket at the CalEPA Building (1001 I Street, Sacramento).
  • District 1 will continue to picket at multiple locations, including Junipero Serra Building (320 4th St, Los Angeles). *
  • District 4 will continue to picket at multiple locations, including Oakland State Building (1515 Clay Street, Oakland). *
  • Santa Rosa Water Board Office (Region 1) shall withhold their labor and picket their worksite (930 6th St, Eureka).
  • Districts 2 and 5 will picket their respective worksites.

*Strike Captains and Picket Locations Available here: https://airtable.com/appdthWIkbEcHAXvZ/shrq7pKnZRq53yy6x.

This will be very clear, and communicated from local leadership, and announced to our list of State Scientists shortly before we announce new targets publicly. That is why it is CRITICAL that CAPS has your up-to-date personal contact information. Update your personal contact information and sign up to receive texting updates here: https://capsscientists.org/members/update/

Attend a worksite meeting or reach out to one of the CAT worksite leads, find on our website at: https://capsscientists.org/member-action-landing-page/contract-action-team/ (Password: CAPS) with any questions.

The staggered strike approach gives your CAPS bargaining committee maximum flexibility and our union the ability to escalate all the way up to an all-out work stoppage. It keeps the State guessing and builds leverage against the State over time if they refuse to negotiate a contract we deserve.

If another strike is called, members would be expected to withhold their labor and not perform any services for the State. CAPS members would then engage in other collective actions such as picketing to put pressure on the State.  

At this time, CAPS leadership has not made any formal decisions with regard to what may or may not be required of members should a strike be called. However, walking the picket line is an important way of showing solidarity with your colleagues. 

No, not at this time. This year, there was a bill (SB799) that would have given striking workers the right to claim unemployment insurance benefits, if their strike lasts longer than two weeks. The bill passed the Legislature but was vetoed by the Governor.

You cannot be fired for participating in a legal, Union-called strike. Going on strike will not prevent or postpone existing disciplinary actions.

People on probation can strike. It would be illegal for the State to fire or to reject someone for participating in a formal, recognized, union-led strike. This does not preclude the state for firing or rejecting folks for other, legitimate reasons. The state is also allowed, in certain circumstances, to extend probationary periods to ensure the employee has worked enough actual hours to fulfill probationary period requirements.

Since the Dills Act gave state employees collective bargaining rights in 1977, no union has ever gone on strike until CAPS’ strike in November 2023.

Several have authorized a strike vote, most recently UAPD, Unit 16, earlier this summer. They did not call for a strike of their members yet.

Alleging that the state has engaged in an unfair labor practice is different from seeking a declaration of impasse from PERB. They are two different kinds of requests.

Should the CAPS Bargaining Team consider calling a strike, many additional conversations with CAPS members would happen first to assess the best timing & strategy for doing so & the CAPS Team will consider financial impacts to members and not make any rash decisions.

Yes. CAPS has a robust Strike Hardship Fund and a process in which to provide funds to members who participate in strikes.

In the event of a strike, you would not receive compensation for the days you were out on strike. Employees on strike do not use leave time to cover striking.

Under the Public Employee Health Protection Act (California Government Code Section 3140 et seq), it is an unfair practice for the state to refuse to maintain or pay for continued health care or other medical coverage for the duration of an authorized strike. You would, however, still be required to pay your employee contribution towards your premiums during a strike.

Don’t take the call. Say no if you do answer the phone. A strike means no work. Withholding labor means withholding all labor.

Striking while under a contract that forbids striking is an illegal job action. Unless another bargaining unit is no longer working under a no-strike clause, they cannot strike with you. That said, they can express support, take time off to attend rallies or picket lines, or contact the Governor’s office to urge him to support state scientists.

Using paid leave means you are on vacation. That is not striking. Striking is withholding your labor and forgoing pay.

Whether the Legislature is in or not doesn’t prevent us from going on strike. It might affect the timing of when the Bargaining Team chooses to go on strike, if circumstances should warrant.

93.51% of members who cast their vote, approved of the strike authorization. 

State employees have a statutory right to strike, and you cannot be fired for participating in a legal, Union-led strike. A strike is a protected activity, and it is illegal for an employer to threaten an employee with discipline. We cannot anticipate every consequence of going on strike, should it be necessary. At a minimum, those who participate in the strike would forego their pay to demonstrate solidarity and the power of their union.

At this time, CAPS leadership has not made any formal decisions with regard to what strike rules may exist or not. To prepare for a strike, do what you can to ensure your work is relatively in order, the same as you would if you were planning on leaving for any length of time – make sure your folders are neatly organized, etc. At this time, there is nothing to tell supervisors. Please refrain from discussing these matters with Supervisory employees. 

Bargaining has taken this long because the State did not respond to CAPS’ economic proposals that we provided to them on May 9, 2023, until August 25, 2023. Their offer on that date was not anywhere close to what the Team believes the membership would ratify. Nor was their most recent offer, which you can see on the CAPS website. 

PERB determined that CAPS and the State of California are currently at impasse with regard to any Tentative Agreement on a Successor MOU. When PERB ruled that CAPS and the State of California are at an impasse, and negotiations without a mediator would prove futile, our current agreement expired – and the “no strike” language ceased to be in effect. No other California State employee union has ever gone on a legal strike in California’s history. We would be the first.

As we have not formally declared a strike, this is a question that the CAPS Board and Bargaining Team will have to discuss. This has not yet been determined. 

There would be discussions between CAPS and the State on classifications and employees that they deem “essential.” If employees are designated as “essential” per state and/or federal law they would be unable to legally strike, and could face disciplinary action. The State must identify those employees and inform the union.

The State would have the responsibility to provide care for the live animals. 

CAPS has already organized a Teach-in that provided information similar to a strike school. We also held worksite meetings to member questions regarding what any potential strike might look like. All of these together cover more than any “strike school” would. You can view the teach-in here: https://capsscientists.org/caps-bargaining/procedures/

As the CAPS Bargaining Team is operating in good faith and is looking forward to starting mediation with the State, no strike actions have been planned. However, Member Actions that are currently in progress or are being planned can be found on the Union Actions page here: https://capsscientists.org/member-action-landing-page/.

No. This also falls under the heading of “wild cat” actions, which can subject employees to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

State Scientists keep Californians safe from diseases, toxic chemicals, and environmental impacts, safeguard wildlife, and secure California’s agricultural industry among many other duties. Without State Scientists, even for one day, the results would be catastrophic for the state, the public, and its economy.

No, you cannot use leave credits to strike. Doing so would defeat the purpose of a strike, as using leave credits means you’re technically still “working,” and it counts as service time. That’s also not even considering the fact that taking leave credits is permissive, and if everyone else is striking, the employer is likely to deny a leave request citing “operational need.”

Under the Public Employee Health Protection Act (California Government Code Section 3140 et seq), it is an unfair practice for the state to refuse to maintain or pay for continued health care or other medical coverage for the duration of an authorized strike. You would, however, still be required to pay your employee contribution towards your premiums during a strike.

CAPS called a rolling 3-day strike November 15th, 16th, and 17thInstead of striking all worksites at once, select worksites will be called to walk out on strike on November 15th and 16th. On November 17th, all State Scientists throughout California will be on strike. Scientists that are NOT called on to join the strike on November 15th and 16th will keep working until all State Scientists are on strike. 

  1. This will be very clear, and communicated from local leadership, and announced to our list of State Scientists shortly before we announce new targets publicly. That is why it is CRITICAL that CAPS has your up-to-date personal contact information. Update your personal contact information and sign up to receive texting updates here:  https://capsscientists.org/members/update
  2. Attend a worksite meeting or reach out to one of the CAT worksite leads, find on our website at: https://capsscientists.org/member-action-landing-page/contract-action-team/ with any questions.  

The staggered strike approach gives your CAPS bargaining committee maximum flexibility and our union the ability to escalate all the way up to an all out work stoppage. It keeps the State guessing and builds leverage against the State over time if they refuse to negotiate a contract we deserve.

This will vary by department. You will be taking “dock” as opposed to marking an accrued leave to participate in the strike. 

You do not need to notify your supervisor. CAPS will be notifying the state (CalHR and the departments) of the impending locations and areas that are to go on strike. 

CAPS is currently in meditation proceedings with the State – this is a process that occurs after formal impasse is declared which means that the parties are no longer able to make any movement towards reaching an agreement without a mediator present to facilitate. We held our first mediation session on November 8, and have made a schedule to meet again on November 28. In the interim, we are flexing our collective power to illustrate to this Administration that we expect movement when we return to mediation on November 28. Yes, if mediation continues to not produce results, more authorized actions may be considered. 

Talk with your Strike Captain to learn more about what you might be able to assist with! 

No, mediation is completely confidential. The State must file an injunction with PERB in order to establish any classes as essential, which has not yet been done. If you do not strike, you are acting against your union. 

You would be asked not to work that day. Withholding your labor to illustrate your importance is the biggest action you can take! 

No, this is a burden of the State. CAPS attorneys will be able to challenge CalHR’s list of essential workers once we have been notified that it has been created. 

No. They are two different “essential” determinations. No classifications or employees have been deemed essential for the purposes of preventing them from striking. 

Strike Authorization FAQs

A strike authorization is a powerful tool that gives your Bargaining Team added leverage at the bargaining table by demonstrating to the State of California and its representatives that CAPS members support their Bargaining Team and are willing to fight for a fair deal. It does not mean that there will be a strike.

While your CAPS Bargaining Team has made good progress on many contract issues at the table, the State has not made real movement on some of our most important issues, including salaries, longevity recognition, employer health benefits contributions, and more. The current negotiations will determine whether our members can afford to continue doing the job they love: working to protect the public from life-threatening diseases, safeguarding our wildlife and abundant natural resources, ensuring the safety of our food, and protecting our air and water from toxic waste and pollution. 

Compensation has been undercut by a disruption in historical salary relationships between other state service classes that perform similar duties, a lawsuit that recognized the idea of “like pay for like work” and provided our supervisors 18-43% raises in  2014, and inflation. The benefit plans that members rely upon for health care and family leaves are under stress. Without transformative change in the successor contracts, the State will lose current scientists and have little hope of attracting the best and brightest scientific minds to serve the people of California in the future.

The time for change is now and we must be prepared to fight if Governor Newsom and his representatives at the table refuse to address our concerns. To maximize our leverage, we are asking members to vote YES to authorize your CAPS Bargaining Team to call for a strike, should discussions with the State at the bargaining table prove unproductive and PERB declares impasse.

A strike authorization vote doesn’t guarantee a strike will occur; rather, it’s a tool we can use to help our negotiating team secure the best deal possible.

A YES vote means your CAPS Bargaining Team will have the ability to call a strike if bargaining fails to produce a deal members will ratify. A YES vote is a strong show of solidarity with your fellow working State Scientists, and gives your CAPS Bargaining Team leverage to reach a deal and fight for the contract we deserve.

A NO vote prevents your Bargaining Team from calling a Strike, even if conditions warrant. It tells the Administration that they do not have to make a fair deal in order to keep State Scientists working. Without the threat of a strike, this Administration has little incentive to provide equitable salaries or change archaic contract provisions that advantage them and exploit our members.

Only CAPS Members can vote. To receive a ballot, you must join CAPS no later than August 31, 2023 at 12pm PDT: https://capsscientists.org/.

The strike authorization vote was held electronically from August 29, 2023, and the final deadline to vote was set for September 1 at 8 a.m. PDT. A third-party vendor, Ballotpoint, has been contracted to hold the strike authorization vote for CAPS. Members will be provided a ballot to their personal email addresses on file. 

If you do not yet have a personal email address on file with CAPS, please update your contact information here.

The vote requires that a majority (50% + one)  or more of members who return ballots vote to authorize the CAPS Bargaining Team to call for a strike, should the State fail to negotiate a fair contract with CAPS. While we only need a majority of members who return ballots to vote YES, we want to send a strong message to Governor Newsom, with huge turn out and a clear mandate.. This shows the State that we are united in our pursuit of a fair contract! 

No. Instead, the strike authorization vote permits your CAPS Bargaining Team to call for a strike if the State fails to negotiate a fair contract with CAPS and impasse is reached. Your CAPS Team will do everything they can to reach an agreement without a strike, and continues to bargain in good faith with the State. The leverage of a successful strike authorization vote will strengthen us to push for the best deal possible.

Yes. Your CAPS Board and Bargaining Team are asking all rank-and-file members to vote YES to authorize the CAPS Bargaining Team to call for a strike, if necessary. The vote requires more than 50% of eligible members casting ballots to vote YES and we want as close to a 100% YES vote as possible to show the State that we, State Scientists, are united in our resolve for a fair contract.

No. This also falls under the heading of “wild cat” actions, which can subject employees to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

No. This is the vote of the membership, giving the Bargaining Team the authority to call for a strike, should conditions warrant. No further vote is required, if members authorize the Team to call for a strike.

It shows the Governor that we are willing to walk the walk and take drastic, costly action to support our calls for pay equity. A low turnout or small margin of support would show the Governor that he can continue to take advantage of our labor and expertise.

Striking while under a contract that forbids striking is an illegal job action. Unless another bargaining unit is no longer working under a no-strike clause, they cannot strike with you. That said, they can express support, take time off to attend rallies or picket lines, or contact the Governor’s office to urge him to support state scientists.

Since the Dills Act gave state employees collective bargaining rights in 1977, no union has ever gone on strike. Several have authorized a strike vote, most recently UAPD, Unit 16, earlier this summer. They have not called for a strike of their members yet.

Alleging that the state has engaged in an unfair labor practice is different from seeking a declaration of impasse from PERB. They are two different kinds of requests.

CAPS members who participated in the Strike Authorization Vote have overwhelmingly approved a strike authorization. The vote was open for 72 hours. The strike authorization vote passed with 93.51% approval. 

A strike authorization vote is a way for members of our union to vote to give our bargaining team the authority to call a strike, should circumstances warrant.

Yes.  It’s worth noting that any successor agreement would not be fully ratified until both the CAPS Membership and the Legislature voted to ratify it. That means that if CAPS were to come to agreement in November, for instance, the contract would likely not be ratified by the Legislature until sometime in January, after they had the opportunity to vote on it.

At any point should the Administration agree to a total tentative agreement that VALUES state scientists.

The Governor vetoed AB 1677, therefore there will not be a study done by the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Rank-and-File scientists are covered by the Dills Act, which points to collective bargaining as the method in which compensation increases are negotiated. CAPS’ legal counsel review case law and updated regulations on an annual basis, at a minimum, to ensure that should the opportunity to file a suit against the state to correct Unit 10 inequities be available, it be presented to the CAPS Board of Directors for consideration

The Dills Act establishes collective bargaining rights for Rank-and-File state employees, and requires us to bargain with the State about our wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment…these topics are mandatory subjects of bargaining. The meet and confer process for supervisors and managers is a lot different than it is for rank-and-file employees. Unit 10 supervisors and managers are covered by the Excluded Employee Bill of Rights, as opposed to Rank-and-File scientists who are covered by the Dills Act. Because of this, Excluded Employees do not have the process of collective bargaining to provide compensation increase for them. Thus, a suit was the process CAPS relied on to obtain increases for them.   

Your CAPS Bargaining Team is fighting for salaries that value state scientists correct long-standing inequities in Unit 10, recognize minimum qualifications, level of responsibility, and expertise. and compensate State Scientists equitably and comparatively to similar classification in and outside of state service. 

General Bargaining Questions

Traditional negotiations open with proposals from both sides. The CAPS Bargaining Team brings forth a package of proposals that addresses the concerns of members and, throughout the negotiations, fights for you and the issues you told us were important. The State will often make proposals designed to cut costs at member expense, or at the very least maintain their status-quo. Away from the bargaining table, the CAPS Bargaining Team deliberates on bargaining decisions and debates tactics and strategies. Proposals may then be amended, countered, or dropped, by either side until an agreement is reached or negotiations reach a stalemate.

Key issues include:

  • Competitive and Equitable Salaries
  • Recognizing Scientific Education and Experience
  • Workforce and Program Stability
  • Mitigating Climate Impacts
  • Paid Family Leave and Support for Working Parents

Find out more about the Platform here: https://capsscientists.org/caps-bargaining/value-scientists/. Share this platform with your friends, family, and colleagues so they can join State Scientists in our collective fight to protect California’s future.  

Many other important issues, including those specific to particular careers and categories, are on the table as well.

Members are the driving force during negotiations. CAPS’ Bargaining Chair, President Jacqueline Tkac leads your Bargaining Team. The Team directs, advises, and works in partnership with Chief Spokesperson, Bianca Gutierrez Petzold, and a staff team of seasoned negotiators, attorneys, and labor relations staff who work with the CAPS MOU every day. Your CAPS Bargaining Team is:

  • Jacqueline Tkac, Chair
  • Itzia Rivera, CAPS Treasurer
  • Monty Larson, CAPS District V Director
  • David Rist, CAPS Member
  • Peter Kerr, CAPS Member
  • Steven Sander, CAPS Member
  • Anita Carraher, CAPS Member

CAPS negotiates with the representatives of the State of California. Typically, that means a representative from the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR), a Department of Finance (DOF) representative, and representatives from the Labor Relations programs in user Departments like California Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Department of Substances Control and others.

It’s worth noting that any successor agreement would not be fully ratified until both the CAPS Membership and the Legislature voted to ratify it. That means that if CAPS were to come to agreement in November, for instance, the contract would likely not be ratified by the Legislature until after their return in January, after the Legislature had the opportunity to review and vote on it.

At any point, should the Administration agree to a total tentative agreement that VALUES state scientists.

Yes, the UC Berkeley labor study results were separate from collective bargaining and wouldn’t change what we were doing at the table now. However, the Governor vetoed AB 1677, therefore there will not be a study done by the UC Berkeley Labor Center at this time.

Rank-and-File scientists are covered by the Dills Act, which points to collective bargaining as the method in which compensation increases are negotiated. CAPS’ legal counsel reviews case law and updated regulations throughout the yearto ensure that should the opportunity to file a suit against the state to correct Unit 10 inequities be available, it be presented to the CAPS Board of Directors for consideration.

Rank-and-File scientists are covered by the Dills Act, which points to collective bargaining as the method in which compensation increases are negotiated.  Unit 10 supervisors and managers are covered by the Excluded Employee Bill of Rights, as opposed to the Dills Act. Because of this, Excluded Employees do not have the process of collective bargaining to provide compensation increase for them. Thus, a lawsuit was the process CAPS relied on to obtain increases for them. 

Your CAPS Bargaining Team is fighting for salaries that value state scientists, correct long-standing inequities in Unit 10, recognize minimum qualifications, level of responsibility, and expertise. and compensate State Scientists equitably and comparatively to similar classification in and outside of state service.

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