A Sacramento County Superior Court judge dealt a serious blow on Friday to state attorneys' legal campaign for pay parity, according to the state Department of Personnel Administration.
DPA spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley said Judge Gail Ohanesian rejected an initial request by the union representing 3,500 state attorneys and hearing officers to appoint a special master to study just how lousy their pay is compared with what their colleagues in other public agencies earn. Jolley said the judge gave California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employment — the union better known as CASE — 20 days to refine and refile its writ but otherwise rejected its argument.
"From our standpoint, it's a victory," Jolley said.
CASE President Holly Wilkens and attorney Brooks Ellison did not return calls seeking comment on Friday.
CASE's current contract with the state expired on June 30. The union, which represents California's deputy attorneys general, says that the state has an unfair bargaining advantage because CASE members — in charge of prosecuting criminals, maintaining public safety, keeping politicians out of jail and the like — won't strike. Because of that, the union argued that a court should be given the power to set fair salaries for CASE employees. Union leaders also submitted a study from a UCLA professor alleging that state attorneys would need a 105 percent salary increase just to put them on par with other government lawyers.
Apparently the judge wasn't buying the argument.
— Cheryl Miller