Governor acts to curb most retired annuitants

Jun 13th, 2012 | By | Category: Budget, Furloughs & Layoffs, Spotlight, Unions

Jerry Brown moves to eliminate retiree workers

Jon Ortiz | Sacramento Bee

As Friday’s state budget deadline approaches, a little-noticed provision in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal would cut off thousands of retirees who return to work for the state.

The idea targets all but the most essential of the state’s so-called “retired annuitants,” a group of about 5,800 workers who drew $110 million in pay from the state last year on top of their pensions.

The Democratic governor’s proposal could strike a chord with taxpayers by appearing to crack down on double-dipping. It also appeals to public employee unions – which want to eliminate jobs they believe stunt the growth of the regular workforce – at the same time he’s asking union workers to accept furloughs and a 5 percent pay cut.

Though axing retirees may score points with Brown’s political base, critics say the practice would cut off experienced, flexible and relatively cheap help. Retired annuitants receive no benefits and can be laid off without notice…

At the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, nearly 1,000 retirees perform an array of tasks in the 63,000-employee agency, from clerical work to handling inmates. Beset by legal and financial pressures for years, the department has terminated hundreds of employees as the state shifts more convicted inmates to local jails.

“We’re looking at every retired annuitant in our system,” said Terri McDonald, undersecretary of operations for the department. “When a position doesn’t meet our critical 24/7 requirements, it will be canceled. But when RAs do meet a critical need, we’ll keep them on. There will always be some RAs on our books … because some important roles can be difficult to fill through regular staffing.”

The department uses retirees to mentor wardens and other top-level employees, transport inmates for medical care and fill hard-to-recruit positions such as cooks and other operations staff in some institutions…(Full text at Sacramento Bee)

While the Governor is to be commended for addressing the RA matter, his efforts are tepid and impotent–Notwithstanding CDCR’s professed need, the rationale for hiring RA’s is wholly lacking.  Moreover, it speaks to a much larger problem.

Incompetent management underlies CDCR’s professed need for retired annuitants

A properly structured organization trains and promotes staff members with an eye toward the future.  CDCR’s professed need for  RA’s to “mentor wardens” is  tacit acknowledgement the agency is hiring unqualified, unseasoned people to run our prisons.

Historically,  potential warden candidates were groomed over time and “mentored” on the way up the ladder.  When they got there, they mentored the up-and-comers.  Over  2 decades ago, this was labeled “the good old boys club” and rejected in favor of a clique system wherein the various “cars” within the organization became the preferred candidate pool–Cars are filled with “kids” and, as a result, the promotion of the untested and unqualified became the rule.   Clearly, a warden in need of a mentor is a warden-in-training, a  protégé.

The use of rank and file RA’s is similarly telling.  While CDCR’s promotion of neophyte wardens created a need for warden-mentors, there’s simply no need for old salts to mentor fish CO’s.  We need adequately staffed facilities and offices.  The failure to meet this operations critical need drives the professed need for recycling retirees.

“Some important roles can be difficult to fill through regular staffing,” says Terri McDonald.  Well, that’s what McDonald’s mouth says but Paco says, show me!   Give me a list of those difficult to fill positions and I guarantee there are cost effective ways to fill them without hiring RA’s.  In the broadest terms, PIE positions exist precisely to give the agency the flexibility needed to “meet our critical 24/7 requirements,” completely obviating the need for ANY retired CO’s.

With unemployment at 10.9% how could ANY position be hard to fill ANYWHERE?

Traditionally hard-to-fill jobs in the private sector such as fast food worker and convenience store clerk produce lines of applicants today!  Yet, we are to believe it’s hard to fill a state position, the brass ring in a good economy, during what the President repeatedly tells us is “the worst economy since the Great Depression?”

Hovering just below 11%, the state unemployment rate  stands as the most compelling argument for axing RA’s.  Which is to say, there are countless qualified people on the unemployment rolls.  How on Earth can the State justify hiring folks who receive a pension greater than the average working person’s wages over the unemployed?  The trouble is, they don’t have to justify them.  They just do it.

As for the Governor’s proposal, it is weak.  He should be calling on his party-controlled legislature to produce a bill outlawing the practice altogether.  Should it then be determined some wardens need mentoring, he can replace them with  managers who don’t need it.  And, in the extremely unlikely event a special need is identified requiring some really special retiree, they can be hired temporarily as a contractor.  PERIOD.

Retirement is not simply a prize for aging workers

Finally, consider brutal reality:

  • There comes a point where older workers are not cost effective due to decreased productivity, sick usage, salary, etc.  Retirement does not rejuvenate…
  • It’s the cycle of life: the old make way for the young.  Old lions don’t stick around to mentor their protégés–Their protégés kill them.
  • Peace officer retirement age was not lowered on a whim.  Occupational heart disease was the reason.  We don’t want people in safety positions dying on the job.  In that context, hiring RA’s flies in the face of public safety and common sense.

Given all of the above, don’t hold your breath waiting for retired annuitants to go away.  And, if you are retired, just be happy you are breathing and go home.


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17 Comments to “Governor acts to curb most retired annuitants”

  1. Alley Cat says:

    I wonder how this is going to work. Our present warden is an RA and we just barely got him because we were seriously in need of a new warden. Had serious trouble looking for someone capable of his capabilities.

  2. Tropia says:

    We like to call then “retarded irritants”.

    • Delta says:

      ( smile) retarded irritants? , come on don’t hate, ha ha, motivate. I guess were all retarded at one time or another. To those already retired, stay busy, it can make you retarded literally. Your welcome Paco, keep up the hard work, I know your retired also, you can only share what you have lived. So as you walked the walk, you are able to talk the talk with the info.
      Take care and thanks!

  3. Delta says:

    Amazing, hmmm, I gave an honest and factual opinion and the thread was moved to out of sight, out of mind. But I found it. ( smile) Also, those valued retired annunitants were also valued staffers at one time, I guess, maybe management valued them so much, they were asked to return to the work force, or loose them maybe to another employment. From what I understand retirees from CDCR run this website. It is a full time job and great information. Thanks for the website Paco.

    • pacovilla says:

      Spotlight (featured) posts are replaced daily. Then they may be found under the category listed in the post header. Excellent obs, Thanks for the compliment too!

  4. Delta says:

    Bob, were you ever one of management’s pick yourself for an annuitant? From what I hear they are picked by management’s discretion, double dipping has been going on since the beginning of time. So if your retired, you can’t apply or work anywhere else? Alot of retirees and military personnel also retired, are employed or have been at CDCR? Other law enforcement agencies, as a matter of fact military personnel earn career credits when applying. Some are already getting a military pension, later to retire from CDCR, etc.

    So with all that said and done, I really believe that annuitants work when nobody else wants to or special projects by their expertise. Is there a right or wrong in this? Sammy how does it screw staff? They still have a job, position? But then nobody wants to be inversed, either and they are utilized for that coverage also at times.

    I guess you can’t please anyone most of the time or just can’t make everybody happy. Everyones entitled to their argument or opinion. Make haters your motivators, not your agitators.

    • 1962 says:

      RA’s return to work because its a “Homie” hookup. We don’t need them, things were running fine in Region 3 parole and then they immediately brought back 2 administrators that had just retired.

      • Delta says:

        Really? Two administrators? Why? Or should I say for what and what was their purpose? So you say they were running smooth, so what did these two administrators do, do you think caused things to get worse or should I say rough? Interesting, are they still there?

    • Bob Walsh says:

      Nope. If I had wanted to keep working, I would have kept working.

      • Delta says:

        I see; however you are still working right here as a moderator. Maybe not for the department. I don’t know if there is incentives for what you do here of if you get paid, but from what I can see, its hard work to keep up something like this? So with all that said and done, again you are still working. :)

        • Bob Walsh says:

          I enjoy doing it. In fact it cost me about $40 per month, mostly in printer supplies. It also keeps me out of the bars. Helps keep my typing in practice too.

  5. kl2008a says:

    I know some folks will gasp when they read this, but IMHO, a retired annuitant falls within the same category as a SCAB! They take positions away from those waiting on a hiring/promotional list. Remember, to get on a hiring/promotional list the candidate is suppose to meet the job’s minimum requirements as set by the Dept. I’ve heard the financial argument in favor of higher these scabs (saves on benefit and retirement costs, experience, etc.), but aren’t they filling a position that was already budgeted for such? Doesn’t the Dept. have an academy and training for newbie’s, albeit from CO to Management? Don’t the new hires (in all positions) have to go through, and pass, a probationary period? I agree with Paco and Bob here. The State and Dept need to get rid of the SCABs. Yeah, they promised to do it before but we know how CDC is with their promises. If you’re a SCAB that I know (and there’s quite a few that I’ve also expressed this to), I still love ya but it’s time to move on. If you still wanted to work why did you retire in the first place?

  6. Fred says:

    Can retired annuitants (CPO type) be used to supplement the officers who have been furloughed?

    • SAMMY C. says:

      We were told by the union and warden they can’t use RA’s to cover furloughs or layoffs. So far I have seen none but I have heard there are RA CO’s around the state doing who knows what. I guess my answer is I don’t know but since it would screw staff I am going to say YES it is happening.

  7. Bob Walsh says:

    Regardless of the value of retired annuitants (and I realize that, with the current housing situation, many people are unwilling or unable to relocate) this is about the third or fourth time the state has said they were eliminating the retired annuitant program. Why should anybody believe them this time?