Gov. Gavin Newsom and six unions have reached a deal to award up to $50,000 in bonuses to keep juvenile prison workers on the job, as CalMatters first reported in March.
By next year, California taxpayers will pay about $54.5 million for incentive payments, according to Treasury Department estimates.
The contracts represent one of the largest retention bonuses the state has ever offered to employees.
A Department of Finance spokesperson said the agreements estimate that 1,019 direct care employees and 211 non-direct care employees will meet the criteria for a certain bonus amount.
The Juvenile Justice Division, which is overseen by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, hopes the payments will help avert the worker shortages that have plagued the agency since Newsom announced the division’s dismantling. All California youth prisons are scheduled to close by June 30, 2023, sending young offenders to county detention centers. The division works to place juvenile justice employees in other state jobs within the department.
“The stipends … are part of a thoughtful and targeted process to ensure consistency and public safety throughout the transition,” Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Services spokeswoman Vicky Waters told CalMatters in a E-mail.
The working agreements “will support (the division’s) operations and the delivery of youth programs and treatment…,” Erika Li, deputy director of the finance department, wrote in a letter to state lawmakers.
Taxable bonuses have been in the works for months.
The money will be split on a pro-rata basis and split between those who work directly with imprisoned youth and those who work primarily for the headquarters in Sacramento. Direct care workers — youth prison guards, plumbers, teachers and chaplains — could receive the full $50,000 if they continue to work for the division until scheduled closures. Non-direct care employees — assistant directors, executive assistants and nursing consultants, for example — could receive up to $25,000.
The Juvenile Justice Division has four facilities set to close, with most staff working in Stockton and Camarillo. In Stockton, where the median household income is $58,393, about 400 prison workers are eligible for the cash injection for themselves and the local economy.
By law, if the deal exceeds $1 million in net costs per bargaining unit, the Legislative Assembly would have to approve it. The contracts are divided by fiscal year and the first payment cannot go up to $5,000 per person.
However, next year the bonuses will total $52 million, requiring legislative approval.
“Some of the $5,000 stipends are already being paid to eligible personnel,” Waters said. “They will continue in the months to come.”
All unions representing youth corrections employees in bonus negotiations donated to stop Newsom’s recall last year. The biggest contributor was the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which gave $1.75 million, according to the secretary of state’s website.
In a letter to the Department of Finance, Nancy Skinner, chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, said the new budget would require the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to release reports to the committee on the number of employees eligible for payments. for each payment period. , vacancy rates and costs.