Monday, April 23, 2018
Local 685 Tells Board of Supervisors: "5% Don't Pay the Rent!"
On Tuesday, April 10, more than 1,000 County employees represented by nearly every County Union rallied at the Board of Supervisors meeting to demand a fair pay raise, with a clear message:

We are the backbone of L.A. County. We take care of L.A. County residents at virtually every stage of their lives. But will L.A. County take care of us?

Currently, the County is offering workers a 5% raise over 3 years to County employees, even though housing costs alone are projected to increase by almost 18%. Click here to see the facts.

Probation Officer Hans Liang, AFSCME Local 685’s First Vice President, and Monterey Park, City Councilmember, spoke out on behalf of Local 685 members and told powerful stories about the working lives of his father, his brother, and himself.

VP Liang was featured in an engaging video demonstrating how County employees take care of LA from cradle to grave, which Board Chair Supervisor Sheila Kuehl graciously allowed the Unions to show during the April 10 Board meeting. Click here to watch the video.
Local 685 Members on Light-Duty Positions Sent Home 
Are you a victim of workplace discrimination?
Recently, several AFSCME Local 685 members with peace officer status on light duty positions were sent home and advised to use their benefit time to cover the time off. The Probation Department stated that these members were to stay in their homes from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday while the Department looks for a suitable position for them due to their medical restrictions. The Department pledge to notify them in ten (10) days regarding the outcome of this search.
 
The AFSCME Local 685 office has received calls from the affected members asking if this is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and we are currently doing a "deep dive" to provide an answer. We spoke to attorney Richard Felton, a partner at top workers compensation law firm Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Felton and Grant, which has a solid reputation representing many AFSCME Local 685 members in the past.
 
Felton explained that under the ADA and California State Law, as well pursuant to Department of Fair Housing and Employment regulations, work and non-work injuries are treated the same. If an individual is not able to perform his or her regular job duties, within a reasonable tie the employer must schedule an Interactive Process Meeting to attempt to identify, with the employee’s assistance, an alternative or modified position. The first choice would be modified employment (if minor modifications can be made), so the employee can still perform his or her current job duties.
 
The employer is also not allowed to discriminate against an employee if job modifications are required. If modifications to the employee’s current position are not a viable option, the employer has a duty to find another position for the employee that meets the required modifications. Failure to follow this process is a violation of California State Disability Discrimination Laws.
 
The bottom line: If an employee can do their job (or work-hardening assignment) with modifications, it is a violation of the law to pull the employee from his or her job. Failure to schedule an Interactive Process Meeting or to make a reasonable attempt to locate an alternative or modified position for the employee – in the Probation Department or County-wide – is also a violation of the law.
If you believe you have been discriminated against, due to your disability, you can file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
The Life of AFSCME Leader Paul Booth Celebrated
On April 20, the labor community celebrated the life of AFSCME Paul Booth, who passed away in January at the age of 74. Click here to read excerpts from AFSCME President Lee Saunders remarks at the memorial service.
 
Paul was affiliated with AFSCME for more than four decades, serving in several different capacities. He helped found Council 31 in Illinois, securing the first Union contract for thousands of Illinois and Chicago employees, shaking up Chicago’s old patronage system in the process. Paul later became the Director of Field Services and eventually Executive Assistant to the President.
 
The achievements on Paul’s resume don’t capture everything he brought and meant to AFSCME. His leadership helped the union grow and thrive while becoming more diverse and dynamic. Paul was a gifted organizer combining passionate idealism with strategic smarts. He spent every day fighting for the rights of Public Service Workers so that they would have dignity, security, and better lives.
 
Paul devoted a lifetime to the pursuit of social justice and we at AFSCME Local 685 are forever grateful to him.
Can I Vent?
By Special Representative Stacy Ford
It’s been a while; didn’t know so many of you enjoyed reading my articles. Thanks for your inquiries and requests to hear from me.
 
There is so much going on in our Department these days – it’s kind of hard to keep up with all the BS. We have a new Union President (I’ll write about that soon), and there are new Supervisors and Directors being promoted in the Camps and Halls. There are Camp closures to come in the very near future, Officers who are on light duty and individuals who are pregnant being told to go home and use their own time, and Officers in the Camps and Halls that are still being attacked by minors.

Officers are under investigation for allegations including but not limited to, improper documentation, dishonesty, and violation of Departmental or externally recognized codes of ethics. Newly hired Officers are leaving the Department in record numbers.
 
By the way, we are in contract negotiations and the way things are looking we are in a FIGHT to save what we ALREADY have. Ralph Miller, where are you? (H E L P)
 
I’m agitated about the way things are going in the Department as they relate to Officer safety. Recently, as representatives of the State Coalition of Probation Organizations (SCOPO), we went to the State Capital in Sacramento to defend the need for and use of pepper spray in the facilities. We strongly let lawmakers in the Capital know that the minors in our facilities are violent offenders, who without a second thought will assault an Officer. We also pointed out that we have no SHU and that the Hope Centers are a joke. Eliminating the use of pepper spray will endanger the lives of the Officers and the minors and support staff.

I invited several lawmakers to visit the facilities to see firsthand what we deal with as a face-to-face encounter makes the issues clearer to someone not at the facility daily. So far, only one individual accepted the invitation and I’m still waiting to hear from him.
 
The Chief has put in place a ZERO TOLERANCE policy for dishonesty. I have a problem with this because dishonesty, as it relates to how things are done in Probation, is broad. Dishonesty is defined as “deceitfulness shown in someone’s character or behavior.” Let’s take the Probation Department as an example: We complete forms every so often so that the Department can receive grant money. Is the Department being honest on these forms?
 
When the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the State Board visits one of our facilities, the Department assigns a lot of overtime to staff to imply that we are fully staffed, when in fact we are short staffed every day. Is this honesty or are these lies? What about the reports that are given to the Board of Supervisors… Are those reports truthful? Is the Board being told how many Officers are assaulted by the minors? Are the reports that the Chief submits to the Board accurate? I can go on and on about this but more importantly I’m sure you can too.
 
To be clear, there are those who lie and are by definition dishonest. I’m not referring to these people – they are liars who make the rest of us look bad. I’m speaking about those individuals who have good intentions. Officers are being FIRED and accused of being dishonest. They are writing what they believe to be true events on their PIR. The video may show something that the Officer didn’t document. The Chief is saying because that event wasn’t documented you are dishonest and can be fired.
 
When multiple people look at the same thing, I can guarantee you none of them will see or write the exact same thing. That’s known as the Rashomon Effect , which is named after Akira Kurosawa's 1950 film Rashomon in which a samurai has been mysteriously killed.
 
“Four characters give conflicting reports of what happened: the samurai's wife says she was raped by a bandit, fainted, then awoke to find the samurai dead; the bandit says he seduced the wife and then fought the samurai to an honorable death; the woodcutter says he witnessed the rape and murder but stayed out of it; and the dead samurai's ghost says that he killed himself. The true question of Rashomon isn't whose account is correct, however. Instead, it forces audiences to ask if there even is a correct version of events.”

Does this mean they are dishonest? NO! It means that differing perspectives influence our memories of an event!

And sometimes the Department waits almost a year before questioning employees about an incident. It’s natural that some details may be legitimately forgotten. There is a condition called Perception Blindness (also known as Inattentional Blindness ), a phenomenon in which people cannot see things in plain sight. The brain controls what is processed even though the eyes see the information.

There are four factors that determine which visual information is processed by the brain and which visual information is discarded:

  • Conspicuity
  • Workload
  • Expectation
  • Capacity
 
Imbalance in any one of these factors will lead to perceptual blindness. If you think I am being dishonest about this, look it up. LOL.
 
I’ve tried to explain this to the investigators during investigations but they have no idea what I’m speaking about and refuse to look it up. Instead, they blow me off and move forward with their investigative interview. Most of us are not liars; in fact, most of us are honest people. Just because I didn’t see something or document something does not suggest dishonesty.
 
This kind of stuff is pissing me off! My advice is that if there is an incident that requires a PIR and there is a video, before you write your PIR request to review the video. Your supervisor, in most cases, will reply “no.” If you are told you cannot view the video when you complete your PIR, begin by saying, “In my desire to be as accurate as possible, I requested to see the video but was denied that opportunity by my Supervisor. I will attempt to document as best as I can remember.” Once you have made that statement then continue with your PIR.
 
Any questions about this article, please email me at sford@afscme685.com.
California Penal Code 243 (b) and (c) PC Battery on a Peace Officer
Reprinted from Police Blotter  
This is a reminder, just in case you have forgotten, that assault on a probation officer or other Peace Officers is against the law. Recently a man was arrested outside the Chase Bank on The Old Road after he got into a physical altercation with a Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Station deputy. According to reports, the man had been loitering behind the bank throughout the day and was reported several times. When a deputy showed up and tried to see what was going on, the suspect refused to answer questions and “a little altercation” ensued. Nobody appeared to be injured during the scuffle, and while an ambulance was called to the scene, no one was transported to the hospital.
 
When someone gets into a fight or another type of physical altercation with the police, it’s possible to be arrested and charged with violating California Penal Code 243(b) or (c) PC – battery on a peace/police officer. This law makes it illegal to willfully and unlawfully touch a police officer, as well as other protected officials, in a harmful or offensive manner while he or she is engaged in their duties. The other protected officials include, but are not limited to, custodial officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, process servers, probation department employees and doctors and nurses providing emergency care.
 
The spirit of PC 243 is to allow the protected individuals to conduct their duties unhindered by bystanders or others who may want to obstruct what’s going on. As such, one can only be charged with violating PC 243 if they are alleged to have committed battery on someone while that person was in the process of performing his or her duties.

For example: Suppose someone gets into a physical altercation outside of a bar with another individual who happens to be an off-duty EMT. The person who committed battery will not be charged with violating PC 243 because the EMT was not in the middle of performing their duties. However, it is still possible to be charged with another crime, such as simple battery (242 PC).
 
Violations of California Penal Code 243(b) – battery on a peace/police officer – are misdemeanors. The possible penalties include misdemeanor probation, up to one year in county jail and/or a maximum fine of $2,000. However, if the battery results in injury, the charge can be increased to felony battery on a peace/police officer under California Penal Code 243(c).

Under the law, an “injury” is described as any physical injury that requires professional medical treatment. If convicted of felony-level charges, the possible penalties include felony probation, 16 months to 3 years in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
State Courthouses in Disrepair Place Employees and Visitors at Risk
According to Eric Sidall, Vice President of the Association of Deputy District Attorney s, and Stephen Frank, publisher and editor of the California Political News , we are taking our lives in our hands when we walk into a court building in Los Angeles County.
 
“Recently, in the Van Nuys East courthouse, a water pipe burst soaking the asbestos-infused ceiling tiles and causing them to crumble and shower poisonous particles down into the offices of the District Attorney. Everything in those offices, from work computers to personal photos, was permanently contaminated. This same building experienced a sewage pipe break the year prior.

"This scenario is not unique. Similar hazards arise regularly in state courthouses across the county. In the downtown Criminal Courts Building, the HVAC system is shot, so employees, families of defendants and victims, and the public who serve as jurors either freeze or swelter. At the Eastlake Juvenile Courthouse the HVAC system sprays a fine particulate of black powder across desks and paperwork. In other court buildings, leaking water has seeped into the porous drywall, resulting in breeding grounds for toxic mold.”
 
The alarming news is that many of the state buildings in which we work are literally death traps. A 2017 seismic safety study determined that more than two-dozen court buildings in Los Angeles County face a very high or high risk of collapse when a big earthquake strikes. More than a dozen others pose a moderate risk.
 
Included in the category of high-risk building is the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Courts Building. This 19-story building is the central artery of the justice system in Los Angeles. Also, on the list is the Eastlake Juvenile Courthouse where County and State employees are housed, and which is visited daily by at-risk youth and their families.
 
Employees are expected to work in buildings with substandard infrastructure and to endure exposure to raw sewage, toxic mold, and asbestos because it is cheaper in the short term not to fix the problems. Placing public employees and the public who visit these buildings at risk is unacceptable and unconscionable.
Calendar of Events
April
Stewards' Council Meeting
Apr. 26; 7:30 PM

May
​General Membership Meeting
May 10; 7:30 PM

Location*
AFSCME Local 685
3701 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 510
Los Angeles, CA 90010


*Pursuant to our Local 685 Constitution, the General Membership meeting has been fixed on the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at the Local 685 Union Hall at 3701 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 510, Los Angeles, CA 90010 (except November and December/1st Thursday of the month).
Member Benefits
AFSCME Advantage

Being an AFSCME member doesn’t only get you an advantage at the bargaining table – it also gets you access to discounts and benefits that can help make life a little easier.

  • Auto Advantage
  • Scholarships
  • Health Services
  • House & Home
  • Insurance
  • Legal
  • Money & Credit
  • Travel
  • Union Shopping

AFSCME Local 685 Constitution
Article I: Name

The name of the Local shall be Los Angeles County, California, Probation Department Employee Local Number 685 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.

Article II: Affiliations

This Local shall be affiliated with California District Council Number 36 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees; the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.

Article III: Objectives

The objectives of this local union shall be to carry out on a local basis the objectives of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees and the following additional objectives and methods:
A. To promote the organization of workers generally and public employees in particular.
B. To advance the social, economic, and general welfare of its members.
C. To foster and promote a liberal and progressive public attitude toward probation services.
D. To promote efficiency in public service generally and to cooperate in providing efficient service.
E. To extend and uphold the principle of merit and fitness in public employment.