Dozens of local scientists took to the streets of Eureka this morning to demand higher wages for state-employed workers.
The California Association of Professional Scientists (CAPS), a union representing more than 5,000 state scientists working across 50 departments, called for a rolling three-day strike following three years of stalled contract negotiations with the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR), the bargaining arm for the Newsom Administration. CalHR accused the union of bargaining in bad faith following the union’s request for the declaration of an impasse in bargaining talks. Subsequently, CalHR filed an Unfair Practice Charge with the Public Employment Relations Board in an attempt to quash the strike.
Monty Larson, a senior environmental specialist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, said the state has been “an unwilling partner” in the recent negotiations.
“We’ve been out of a contract for over three years, and in negotiations for over three and a half,” Larson told the Outpost during this morning’s demonstration. “About 25 percent of scientists work side by side with engineers, but they get paid up to 40 percent more. It’s embarrassing, you know, working with the same people on the same projects – often interchangeable between staff – and there’s no difference in what they’re doing, except for a giant disparity in pay.”
At this point, the state has offered a three percent salary increase for all state employees, Larson said, emphasizing that state-employed scientists have been out of a contract for more than three years.
“I’m a topped-out state scientist, so my pay hasn’t increased in a couple of years,” Larson continued. “Myself and many of my colleagues have been losing buying power since we’ve been out of a contract. We’re asking for pay equity between ourselves and our engineering counterparts.”
Keep scrolling for more pictures of today’s demonstration.