As this writing reaches you, we (Unit 621) should have had our initial meeting with the County for a new salary contract. The circumstances surrounding these negotiations include staffing shortages, CARP, a global pandemic, fighting off curtailments, political infighting, the potential loss of contracts and jobs, and now inflation at historic levels.
The process is potentially lengthy and uncertain. However, given the fact that all contracts for County bargaining units are up and are being negotiated simultaneously, the County may feel the need to alleviate the logjam. That would be optimal but likely not practical.
Bonuses, inequities, a timely manner to conclude investigations, legislative protections, tenor and addressing documented concerns of station jailer staffing will be among the items specific to our bargaining unit.
After several months of inquiries, retirements and laterals, a new class of 40 was scheduled to begin their orientation on April 18.
Once negotiations begin, both parties will enter into a non-disclosure agreement. This is to protect the integrity of the process, and I ask that members exercise patience and understanding with team members, as they will be limited on what they can disclose. This is routine and has been a long-standing practice during negotiations.
On April 5, the Board of Supervisors voted to proceed to give DHR discipline authority over LASD employees. On April 6, PPOA Attorney Jim Cunningham was in court on behalf of PPOA members seeking a temporary restraining order (TRO), arguing that it posed an immediate hardship to our members. Through this process, the County is now on record stating they will not immediately seek to terminate employees, leading to the TRO not being granted. However, the judge has set a hearing for July for a preliminary injunction. Until then, there should be no notice of discipline issued to employees prior to this hearing. If any member is presented with disciplinary paperwork, they should contact PPOA or me as soon as possible.
Organizationally, these have been tough times. The act of meeting with the Department to deal with policies, messaging, discipline and being on the same page so that employees understand what is being asked of them and where they stand is all that we ask. Understanding why employees would face discipline if a mandate is not being enforced, companies asking employees for insurance information with no agreement and a testing mandate with no policy are all current events.
Members have lost spots, colleagues have questioned each other’s choices, employee gyms have been segregated based on individual choices and misinformation has run rampant, and the lack of information is equally as troubling.
Media scrutiny, investigations, the loss of over 1,200 items and now the exodus of employees simply tired of the uncertainty is starting to strangle this Department, with Custody bearing the brunt of it with CARP, overtime and drafting.
And all of this is with the expectation that we show up and be professional and prepared to react to violence, medical or any situational emergency that arises.
TIME TO REINVEST
When I was fortunate enough to obtain this position on the PPOA Board, one of the goals was to have the Custody Assistant position seen and utilized as an avenue toward a career as a Deputy for those who desired that path. In other words, to have your service matter.
One of the major complaints at the time was that new hires were valued more than C/As currently working for the Department. My stance was and remains that a current Custody Assistant’s background was easier to do, with work history, evals and personnel files.
There was also the polygraph question. Why take another when you took one to get hired? That was eventually agreed upon that someone with three years of service or less applying for a sworn position would not have to take it again.
With multiple meetings between PPOA and the Department, a mutual understanding was reached to acknowledge that pulling from the natural resource that is a Custody Assistant was beneficial to LASD. Since then, C/A’s have gone on to DST academies at a quicker rate and in larger numbers.
But there is also a ripple effect. As our colleagues went to tan and green, our numbers began to dwindle. Overtime, drafting and CARP became increasingly more common as the Department had only hired 29 Custody Assistants over the last two years, while the last two sworn academies alone had taken 55.
However, reinforcements are on the way. After several months of inquiries, retirements and laterals, a new class of 40 was scheduled to begin their orientation on April 18. This was a long time coming and well needed.
It is far too soon to tell where this workforce will be deployed. Vacancies will be reviewed as this class nears graduation. For now, we wish them well and pray that all the recruits complete the Academy and get sworn in as Correctional Officers.
Remember when you were wide-eyed and inexperienced? Make yourselves available to impart your knowledge to them and help develop the next generation.
We are in frustrating and, at moments, uncertain times. With that being said, the job is getting done, and that is a testament to you all.
For those who may not often hear it: Thank you.