The Unit 15 Bargaining team, led by Chair Eric Murray, once again met with the State on Monday, April 24. It was a difficult but productive day for the team, which signed seven Tentative Agreements (TAs) and presented numerous high priority proposals demanding that the State show the 4,500+ SEIU Local 1000 allied service workers across the state the monetary respect they deserve.

Joseph Kochetta, a custodian who has worked for the California Department of General Services (DGS) for seven (7) years and now works in the crime lab, spelled out his value loud and clear while discussing the hardships he faces on a daily basis. “We’re not unskilled labor,” said Kochetta. “We have a multitude of training processes that we go through, including Covid-related, in order to keep the labs clean and safe for the technicians. We deal with blood and air-borne pathogens, and if we don’t do things the right way, evidence gets thrown out.”

“We supervise inmate workers by guiding and training them,” added Murray. “We prepare them for their future outside of prison by giving them a solid job skill to be productive members of society.”

The team presented several proposals, including:

  • 12.11.15 Uniform replacement Allowance (Unit 15)
    • Moved $1,000 uniform allowance
    • $200 tax-free shoe allowance
    • Allocates $1,500 for CSC’s
    • California Prison Industry Authority (PIA) Custodians to receive a set amount of uniforms 
  • 21.26.15 Custodial Routes (Unit 15)
    • The team added a new paragraph that addresses staff shortages to ensure departments include a modified cleaning program when short of staff to prevent multiple duties during their scheduled shifts. Custodial staff is currently asked to cover other areas, leading to back-to-back eight (8) hour shifts in one day.
  • 11.XX.15 Special Salary Adjustments (Custodial Alternative Range for Medical Cleaning (Unit 15)
    • This proposal features new language that eliminates the requirements of supervisors to add paperwork to time cards to prove inmates are wards, thus streamlining the process. The proposal also adds $110 to inmate supervision pay.
  • 11.1.15 Special Salary Adjustments (Unit 15)
    • For custodians who work in 24-hour facilities, our position is that this work is more technical and complex than more traditional office-based custodial duties and merits higher pay. Our 24- hour custodians do a higher-level cleaning and require a higher level of skill due to the deeper hospital-level cleaning their job calls for. 

      The team proposed that the whole unit be uplifted 30% beginning on July 1, 2023. This reflects the difficulty in attracting and retaining employees because of the low pay in our classes.

The team also presented several rollover agreements, signaling our desire to leave the existing language unchanged and thus retain the hard-won rights from previous contract campaigns. These agreements include:

  1. 8.24.15 DDS Vacation Scheduling System for Common Level of Care (LOC) Nursing Staff in Bargaining Unit 15
  3. 10.14.15 Personal Alarms-CDCR (Unit 15)
  4. 10.16.15 Alarm System: DDS and DSH (Unit 15)
  5. 10.20.15 Active Treatment Crisis Management, Therapeutic Strategies and Interventions Training or Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, (CPI) (Unit 15)
  6. 13.18.15 Employee Group Meeting (Unit 15)
  7. 19.33.15 Call-in Procedures (Unit 15)

The team also reported back to the State on the severity of their plight as a whole. “There is something horribly wrong with this picture,” said Susanna Redfearn, a Correctional Supervising Cook at Avenal State Prison. “How can an employee of the fourth largest economy in the world be threatened with homelessness? But the sobering truth is a lot of state employees face this threat every day. Making decisions on whether they put food on their table, pay a utility bill, or go to the doctor and pay for their medications. How is this even acceptable by those who have the power to change it, yet haven’t?”

“We took a 10% cut in pay while private sector grocery workers received a 10% raise during Covid,“ added Pete Garza, a Correctional Supervising Cook at Valley State Prison who has worked for the state for 19 years and never seen a significant raise.

Unit 15’s next meeting with the State to win a contract that Respects Us, Protects Us, and Pays Us is set for May 1. On Tuesday, April 25, bargaining units 1, 3, 4, 14, and 17 will hold their second sessions at the table. Master table negotiations resume on Wednesday, May 3.

To read about what happened in Monday’s Bargaining Unit 11, 20, and 21 sessions, please visit the Contract Action Center page at

There’s real truth to the Local 1000 slogan, Stronger Together. We only win a great contract with a strong Local 1000 membership. So, if you’re not already a member, we encourage you to join us today.