More than 15,000 Judicial Branch employees apparently are exempt from Governor David Paterson’s temporary pay freeze (here).

The Albany Times Union reported Tuesday that pay checks of most nonjudicial employees will be fattened with 4 percent raises in late April (here).

Although a separate branch of government, the Judiciary’s collective bargaining contracts usually track those of Executive. Most unionized state employees are scheduled to get 4 percent raises this year.

The Judiciary budget often falls beneath the radar screen in Albany. Here’s some background on salaries:

  • 14,513 nonjudicial employees who are paid below a $115,000 cap are scheduled for 4 percent raises retroactive to April 1.
  • Another 1,085 nonjudicial employees are in line for a 4 percent raise only on the portion of their salary below the $115,000 cap.
  • The annual cost of raise for salaries below the cap is about $37 million.
  • Among the 15,598 employees up for raises are 1,036 employees who are not represented by a labor union. (In contrast, Paterson nixed the 4 percent raises for 12,000 management/confidential Executive employees. He also cancelled their 3 percent raises a year ago.)
  • The state’s 1,262 judges last received raises in 1999. As a result, an unspecified number of higher-paid, nonjudicial employees have had their salaries frozen for about four or five years. The rationale being that their salaries should not exceed those of state Supreme Court justices (trial judges), who are paid $136,700. The Chief Judge is paid $156,000.
  • In 2007, unions representing judicial employees agreed to a four-year contract with raises of 3 percent in each of three years plus 4 percent in the final year (excluding longevity raises). However, the unions agreed to defer raises for the portion of employee salaries exceeding $115,000 until either: (a) the end of the contract (March 31, 2011) or (b) judges get a pay raise. That means the state faces a retroactive liability for those raises.
  • In January 2010, the Judiciary had 18,080 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees, a 16 percent increase over a January 2000 payroll of 15,592, according to payroll data from the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC).
  • The average Judiciary employee earns $80,350 on an annualized basis, according to the OSC data. The average state employee earns $64,164. (The figures do not include benefits.)
  • The 2009 Judiciary payroll can be viewed on www.SeeThroughNY.net.

In its story on raises for nonjudicial employees, the Times Union quotes a Judiciary spokeswoman saying, “We’re still on track to get the 4 percent raises”.

The governor’s budget office didn’t totally rule out holding back the court system raises, since much of their payroll won’t be approved until the budget extension bills later this month.”There certainly has been no action to negate that,” Budget Division spokesman Matt Anderson said of the 4 percent raises for court workers that should start on April 28.

“That issue,” he added, “has not been addressed.”

Paterson’s decision to delay 4 percent raises for Executive branch employees does not affect $80 million in the step and other longevity payments for 45,000 state workers, Gannett New Service reports (here).

Originally Published: NY Public Payroll Watch

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