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California Correctional Peace Officers' Association v. State

February 11, 2010

CALIFORNIA CORRECTIONAL PEACE OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND APPELLANTS,
v.
STATE OF CALIFORNIA ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



(San Francisco City & County Super. Ct. No. CGC-07-464491). Hon. Suzanne R. Bolanos.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ruvolo, P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

The California Correctional Peace Officers' Association (CCPOA) brings a statutory claim, contending that the State of California (the State), through the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA), violated Government Code section 19849.18*fn1 when DPA refused to grant correctional supervisors of State Bargaining Unit Six (Unit 6) the same increases granted to the rank-and-file correctional officers they supervise. We disagree, and affirm.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

CCPOA represents certain correctional supervisors of Unit 6 along with a large number of rank-and-file correctional employees (hereafter sometimes also referred to as the rank-and-file members). This appeal is brought on behalf of the organization and the correctional supervisors of Unit 6 (supervisors or correctional supervisors) it represents.

DPA is the agency charged with setting compensation for both the supervisory correctional officers and the rank-and-file correctional officers of Unit 6. (§ 19826, subd. (a); Tirapelle v. Davis (1993) 20 Cal.App.4th 1317, 1322-1323 & fn. 8, 1325-1326 (Tirapelle); §§ 3513, subd. (j), 19815.4, subd. (g).)

In May, August and September 2006, CCPOA and DPA arbitrated a contractual dispute relating to compensation for the rank-and-file members. In November 2006, the arbitrator found that the State had underpaid the rank-and-file members. The arbitrator issued a supplemental opinion and award in January 2007. As a result of these arbitration awards (collectively, the Cohn Award), DPA was required to grant the rank-and-file members of Unit 6 a 3.125 percent base pay increase, retroactive to July 1, 2005. The Cohn Award also required DPA to increase health benefits for the rank-and-file members of Unit 6 to an 85/80*fn2 formula based on 2006 health insurance rates.

Pursuant to section 3533, in February and March of 2007, DPA met and conferred with CCPOA on behalf of the supervisors it represents regarding the impact of the Cohn Award on correctional supervisors. CCPOA's position was that section 19849.18 required that supervisors be given automatic and contemporaneous base pay and health benefit increases "generally equivalent" to those included in the Cohn Award.

As a result of these discussions, DPA agreed to grant correctional supervisors a prospective 3.125 percent base pay increase effective January 1, 2007, but declined to grant additional health benefits or to make the 3.125 percent base pay increase in accordance with the terms of the Cohn Award. DPA disagreed with CCPOA's position that section 19849.18 requires supervisors be given "generally equivalent" compensation changes each and every time salary or benefit awards are granted to rank-and-file members, and posited that its 3.125 percent base pay increase, coupled with the overall salary and benefits differential, satisfied its statutory obligations.

During these meet and confer sessions, DPA supported its decision by presenting statistical charts showing that, even after considering the Cohn Award, supervisors still enjoyed an 11.45 percent differential in salary and benefits over the rank-and-file members. These charts also depicted historical salary and benefits information, illustrating that a significant salary and benefits differential between supervisors and the rank-and-file members had existed since at least 2002-2003, and that supervisors had enjoyed a 5.94 percent advantage over the rank-and- file members in the area of health benefits from 2004 to 2007.

In April 2007, CCPOA filed a formal grievance with DPA challenging its decision on the same grounds. In its grievance denial, DPA reiterated that the 3.125 percent base pay increase, along with the current substantial salary and benefits differential of 11.45 percent, satisfied its statutory obligations.

In June 2007, CCPOA filed a complaint in the above-captioned matter. The trial court ruled in favor of DPA (the State of California) and issued a written statement of decision dismissing CCPOA's claim in its entirety. In dismissing the statutory cause of action, the trial court concluded that section 19849.18 did not require that supervisors be given contemporaneous compensation changes each and every time compensation changes were granted to rank-and-file members. The trial court further found that CCPOA's interpretation of that section was "unreasonable, and not supported by the plain language of the statute, the legislative history, or other legal authorities." The court reasoned that when "an adequate pay differential already exists between correctional supervisors and the [rank-and-file members], DPA should not be compelled to further expand that differential in the absence of any justification." In support of its ruling, the court found that the statistical data and charts submitted by DPA satisfied its obligation to maintain compensation differentials between supervisors and the rank- and-file members, therefore fulfilling the overall purpose behind sections 19849.18 and 19849.22.

This appeal ...


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