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State scientists march for pay equity in San Luis Obispo

State scientists based in the Central Coast marched in San Luis Obispo for pay equity.
Gabriela Fernandez
State scientists based in the Central Coast marched in San Luis Obispo for pay equity.

Central Coast scientists marched with picket signs in San Luis Obispo Friday. They are state employees participating in a 3-day "Defiance for Science" strike.

The California Association of Professional Scientists is asking the state for pay equity.

About 50 state employees with various scientific backgrounds showed up to support the strike.

Claudia Mackeyev is an Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. She studies different marine animals like sardines, sharks, anchovies and squids.

“The pay inequity is really embarrassing. I mean we do a lot of evidence-based science that basically supports legislation and just how the state runs,” Mackeyev said.

The nonprofit newsroom CalMatters has reported state engineers make significantly more than state scientists despite similar levels of education.

The strike comes after three years of negotiations with the Department of Human Resources.

Paula Richter is a Senior Environmental Scientist with the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. She helped organize the picket line in San Luis Obispo.

She said it could be detrimental for the state if scientists are not working.

“We don't just have water quality scientists. We have biologists. We have people that specialize in Marine environments. We have people that work in the military in environmental positions. So we all play a very important role in protecting our State's resources,” Richter said.

A CalHR spokesperson said the strike is disappointing but the state will continue to bargain with the union in good faith.

Some scientists plan to continue rallying during the State’s Democratic Convention this weekend.

Gabriela Fernandez came to KCBX in May of 2022 as a general assignment reporter, and became news director in December of 2023. She graduated from Sacramento State with a BA in Political Science. During her senior year, she interned at CapRadio in their podcast department, and later worked for them as an associate producer on the TahoeLand podcast.
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