Governor Brown calls for better deal for prison guards
April 20, 2011
California Gov. Jerry Brown negotiated a contract with the politically powerful prison guards’ union that lets guards bank an unlimited amount of vacation time they get paid for when they retire at a substantial cost to taxpayers, a legislative analyst said Tuesday. [BloombergBusinessWeek]
The average correctional officer already has nearly 19 weeks of accumulated leave time, currently valued at $600 million. Adding more time will cost the state in the long run, said fiscal and policy analyst Nick Schroeder to Bloomberg Business Week, though he couldn’t say how soon or how much.
Former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger battled the union, imposing a contract in 2006 that eliminated many of the concessions negotiated by his predecessor Gray Davis.
The 30,000 member union backed Brown’s campaign for governor.
Accumulated leave time is currently limited to 80 days for prison guards and most other state employees.
The pending contract, which is waiting approval of the legislature, gives guards more than eight weeks off work annually, making it more likely they will bank time to be paid out on retirement, according to the legislative analysis.
Last year, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation paid out nearly $100 million in unused leave time. The analysis said a much larger bill could come due soon: more than one-third of the guards are more than 46 years old, and most qualify to retire at age 50.
Davis agreed to the contract shortly before he was recalled from office in 2003. Schwarzenegger used the union as an example of public employee unions with too many perks and too much power.