As California eliminates its juvenile prisons, the governor and six unions reach an agreement to pay lucrative bonuses of up to $50,000.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and six unions have reached an agreement to pay bonuses of up to $50,000 to keep juvenile prison workers employed, CalMatters first reported in March.
The Treasury Department estimates that between this year and next year, California taxpayers will pay about $54.5 million in incentive payments.
The contracts represent one of the largest retention bonuses the government has ever offered to workers.
A finance department spokesman said that under the agreements, 1,019 direct care employees and 211 non-direct care employees would be eligible for some bonus.
The juvenile justice division, run by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, hopes the payments will help avert a shortage of workers that has plagued the agency since Newsom announced the unit was being liquidated. All juvenile prisons in California are expected to close by June 30, 2023, and juvenile offenders will be sent to county detention centers. The department is working on the appointment of juvenile justice officers to other public positions within the department.
“The scholarships … are part of a thoughtful and focused process to ensure consistency and public safety throughout the transition,” Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Vicki Waters told CalMatters via email.
The labor agreements will “support (unit) operations and provide youth programs and treatment…,” Erica Lee, chief associate director of the finance department, wrote in a letter to state legislators.
Taxable bonuses have been developed over several months.
The money will be apportioned and split between those who work directly with incarcerated youth and those who primarily work at the Sacramento headquarters. Direct employees – youth prison guards, plumbers, teachers and chaplains – can receive the full $50,000 if they continue to work at the unit until the planned closure. Non-direct care employees, such as assistant directors, executive assistants, and care consultants, can receive up to $25,000.
The Juvenile Justice Department has four facilities that are due to close, with most staff working in Stockton and Camarillo. In Stockton, where the median household income is $58,393, about 400 prison employees are eligible for cash injections for themselves and the local economy.
By law, if an agreement amounts to more than $1 million in net costs per speaking unit, the Legislature must approve it. The contracts are divided by fiscal year and the down payment is only up to $5,000 per person.
However, bonuses will total $52 million next year, subject to legislative approval.
“Some of the $5,000 scholarships are already being paid to eligible employees,” Waters said. “They will continue in the coming months.”
All the unions representing youth corrections officers in the bonus negotiations made donations to stop Newsom’s recall last year. According to the Secretary of State’s website, the largest contributor was the California Correctional Law Enforcement Association, which donated $1.75 million.
In a letter to the Treasury Department, Nancy Skinner, chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, said the new budget would require the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to report to the committee on how many employees are eligible for payments for each installment period. , vacancies and costs.