CA bill adds second monthly pay day for state employees

A Republican lawmaker wants to help California state employees balance their checkbooks without giving them a raise.

Senator Andy Vidak of Hanford is pushing a bill that would force the state to pay its employees more often, moving to bi-weekly paydays instead of the monthly schedule the state government uses currently.

The change would require the state to comply with a 1919 law that generally requires employers to pay their workers every two weeks.

“I’ve heard from people in my district who are state employees, and they’ve made it clear to me that they want to be paid twice a month like pretty much every other Californian,” Vidak said.

Vidak’s bill is scheduled to appear before a Senate committee later this month. He came up with it after one of his staff, a former Caltrans employee, told him that a bi-weekly pay schedule would help state employees get their bills under control.

The adjustment seems simple, but California State employees are paid through a Vietnam War-era system this could make changing the schedule a time-consuming and costly challenge.

The state comptroller’s office estimates the change would cost at least $1 million upfront and could increase current expenses by $6.7 million a year.

The change could also take more than a year to execute. The delay could expose the state to penalties for failing to pay its employees in a timely manner, according to an analysis of Vidak’s proposal by the Senate Public Employment and Pensions Committee.

A small number of California‘s 230,000 state employees receive paychecks twice a month. The union that represents mental health techniciansfor example, has a contract that obliges the state to pay its members twice a month.

A few thousand maintenance workers also receive checks twice a month, although this practice is being phased out.

They are represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers and the State last year in contract negotiations stood firm on its request to move them to a monthly pay schedule.

These workers will begin receiving monthly paychecks in 2020, when the IUOE Local 12 contract ends. The union negotiated to put the change at the end of the agreement to give the state time to implement the new schedule carefully.

“It’s by no means something we wanted,” said Steve Crouch, director of public employees at IUOE. “We didn’t give up easily, but the state decided this was a hill they were going to die on.”

Cory Burkarth, the former Caltrans employee who works for Vidak, said his former colleagues at Caltrans’ Fresno office told him they would have better control of their household budget if the state adopted a pay schedule. every two weeks.

“Getting paid twice a month would be a big help for lower-paid workers, especially those with kids, college loans, credit card debt, housing expenses and other day-to-day needs,” did he declare.

This story was originally published April 11, 2018 12:01 a.m.