In the midst of addressing the fallout from the County’s ill-conceived plan regarding the vaccination mandate, there is still the effort being made to conduct “regular” business and stay focused on obtaining gains for the position, expanding the role and increasing items allowing for more movement.
Recently, the County and the Coalition of County Unions, of which PPOA is a member, reached a tentative agreement on a new fringe benefits contract. This is separate from MOU negotiations, which will take place in the first quarter of 2022. The fringe agreement will include an increase of 2.5% toward medical, an additional County holiday of Juneteenth and the highly talked about COVID bonus.
We are hopeful that this will all be approved by the time this reaches you. Once that takes place, a timeline can be established as to when you could expect it. The 2.5% will kick in on January 1 as it was not approved during the time of open enrollment for Choices.
On October 18, the latest Custody Assistant academy began. Many of you have asked where the Department was with hiring C/As, as we’ve recently seen numerous colleagues go into the DST academy. The last two deputy classes have taken about 55 C/As. It is something that our organization has lauded for, utilizing what we believe is a natural resource of professional, vested and knowledgeable C/As, whose background process should be easier to complete.
Yet, with so many moving on, the attrition will eventually impact those remaining in the form of vacancies on top of the impairments and RODs. Back on August 3, the filing period for Custody Assistant was opened, and during the nine-hour window, over 2,200 applications were submitted, with additional classes potentially beginning the first part of 2022.
Equipment has always been a factor. After several gas exposure-related incidents, ill-fitting masks and disinfecting behind COVID, the need to ensure your safety and well-being again became a concern. After several years of back-and-forth dialogue, it was finally agreed that gas masks would be provided for all C/As. This is also for future personnel coming in and their ability to do the job in an emergent situation with their own available, reliable, fitted equipment. Discussions on Tasers are ongoing, as their use in custody has been questioned all the while their use by station jailers has been going for some time.
As difficult as it is at times in dealing with elements beyond our control, the work environment, your safety and your needs are always a point of emphasis for me. I’ve had discussions with many of you who have brought insight and points that are relevant and conducive to how we work and how we move forward. I encourage the discussions — I’m always accessible and willing to come speak to your unit.
For all that has transpired, I ask that you rely on factual information. Ask questions rather than make assumptions or pass rumors as fact. This time in our career is unprecedented and difficult to fathom. A false narrative could compromise your ability to cover the equity that you have built or aspire to in your career.
As always, thank you for your time, patience, courtesy and professionalism.