CAL FIRE Local 2881 has just ratified a two-year contract with the State commencing July 1, 2022 and expiring on June 30, 2024. State Bargaining Unit 8, consisting of approximately 8,000 fire suppression and prevention personnel, will receive a 2.5% general salary increase retroactive to July 1, 2022, a 2% general salary increase effective January 1, 2023, and a 2% general salary increase effective July 1, 2023.
During the term of the MOU, nearly all bargaining unit employees will receive a monthly payment of $260 to improve affordability and access to healthcare. All bargaining unit employees will see a decrease in their contributions for the prefunding of post-retirement health benefits, dropping from 4.4% to 3.4%. Education incentive pay will double from $75 per pay period to $150 per pay period. Longevity pay will increase by 2% for each existing tier—starting at 17 years with an increase from 1% to 3%, and increasing from tier to tier up to 25 years, which increases from 7% to 9%. Compensation for many bargaining unit employees will be increased by 15% to 16% as a result of the agreement.
With the use of a “survival clause,” the Union was able to obtain a reduction in the CAL FIRE standard workweek from 72 hours per week to 66 hours per week – with no loss in pay. The survival clause enables the parties to agree to a change occurring after the expiration of the MOU. The workweek will be reduced by November 2024, and a labor-management committee is established to discuss how to implement that reduction and further reductions in the workweek, consistent with the Union’s long held goal of achieving a 56-hour workweek. Members will have the opportunity to vote on the new contract in 2024 that will deal with the reduction of the work week.
The State and the Union, in concert with bargaining, also agreed to legislation covering all bargaining unit employees with Labor Code section 4800 temporary disability benefits for work-incurred injuries or illnesses. For many years, CAL FIRE has been one of the few public safety agencies in the State that did not extend Labor Code section 4800 benefits to its employees. (Local safety employees will recognize this as Labor Code section 4850 benefits, or “4850 time.”) This benefit consists of compensation for totally but temporarily disabled personnel at full pay nontaxable for up to one year. For injuries occurring on or after November 1, 2022, Bargaining Unit 8 classifications (and corresponding positions in management) will receive compensation under Labor Code section 4811, and will receive a unique enhanced benefit allowing compensation to continue for up to three years in the event that the disability is caused by a serious burn injury.
The bargaining team was led by its chief negotiator Gary Messing in the Sacramento office of Messing Adam & Jasmine LLP, and CAL FIRE Local 2881’s State Rank and File Director Peter Boctor. The bargaining team included Elizabeth Brown, Nick Sandahl, Chris Placke, Jeremy Salizzoni, and the official notetaker Branden Smith. Assisting the team were bargaining unit trainees Rob Kenyon, Tom Silva, and Mark Garcie. The agreement would not have been possible without the efforts of Union President Tim Edwards and the long-term involvement of the Union’s lobbyists, Aaron Read and Terry McHale of Aaron Read & Associates LLC.