November 29, 2017
A Special Holiday Season E-Gram Message from the Desk of your Chief Steward, Jonathan Byrd:

Count Your Blessings! Name them One by One!

It's not only the holiday season - it's also contract negotiation season! Let us be thankful we have bargaining rights, and a strong team of negotiators. Many working people d o not have the right to negotiate contracts with their employer - but as union members, we do!

First, I would like to thank President Ralph Miller and the rest of the Executive Team for their outstanding leadership for OUR UNION!!!

As your Chief Steward (and former AFSCME Local 685 treasurer) my fundamental function is to protect the MOU. I would like to thank my immediate predecessors, Sue Cline and Robert Rivera, along with others, for their hard work and the success we have had maintaining our strong MOU and the benefits and rights associated with it.

Under the scrutiny of ever-changing Probation Chiefs and a defiant County Board of Supervisors, the task of maintaining a strong MOU is a relentless task that requires daily diligence. With that in mind, I thought this would be a good time for us to look back over the years (at least 10) and remember our challenges and our successes.

REMEMBER: There are no losses because we never stop fighting!

First, let's look at some challenges: 

1. Probation Chiefs that we have endured and are enduring:
  • Robert Taylor - No probation experience - gone
  • Donald Blevins - Left on a vote of "no confidence" - gone
  • Jerry Powers - Little management experience and a bias toward inexperienced workers - gone
  • Cal Remington - Interim Temporary Chief, worked well with membership - left on own accord
  • Teri McDonald - No probation experience; highest number of disciplinary actions ever issued in a 10-month period
2. Some issues faced over the years:

Safety Retirement - Not approved by Board of Supervisors over the years because of the Board's makeup. We now have a more "labor" friendly Board (supported by our efforts) but Safety Retirement is not a feasible in the current era of retirement plans.
Reduction of the workforce, emphasis on the DSO series in the Halls - During a downturn in the economy, the County instructed the Department to reduce its workforce by 1,200 employees. Closing of institutions was also encouraged.
Staff in the Probation Department's administrative divisions (Human Resources, Payroll, and Employee Relations) that have been transferred from other areas of the County and have inadequate experience in probation functions - Promotional opportunities have been hindered, and transfer opportunities have been delayed like never before. Seniority rights have been violated, and disciplinary actions have been issued at an astronomically high rate. Payroll mistakes have been made - such as stating employees were overpaid - when in many instances they were not. Bonuses were not paid in accordance to past practices, and state laws.
External Emphasis on Our Department - There are always challenges to maintaining a viable Department. State laws guide state offender oversight by Probation, including the AB109, SB678 and Prop 63 programs. Juvenile Solitary Confinement has been misrepresented by the media, and the County and the Department have reacted by enacting misguided programs like the Hope Center. The Hope Center has increased our need for safety measures.
Now let's look at some of our accomplishments:

1. Salary Increases since June 2013 - January 2018 (4.5 years) 
All members of this bargaining unit will have received a 17.1% increase in basic salary. This does not include any additional responsibility bonuses, educational bonuses or longevity bonuses. For example, the actual basic increases in dollars per month/annually are:

DSOs - $787/$9,444
SDSOs - $934/$11,208
DPO I - $812/$9,744
DPO II - $1,071/$12,852
GSNs - $615/$7,380
2. Negotiated a longevity bonus 
In lieu of not being able to secure safety retirement, our negotiators won a longevity bonus agreement of 3% after 19 years, 4% after 24 years, and 4% after 29 years - totaling a pensionable aggregate over of 11% when compounded. Unlike safety retirement, the longevity bonus is also received when you are working, and included in your retirement calculation.
3. Negotiated a uniform allowance
As of December 2017 we will be receiving an $850 uniform stipend - a big change from several years ago when there was no uniform allowance.
4. Secured a one-time signing bonus of $1,300 
As negotiated in a prior contract.
5. Advanced Education Bonus 
A negotiated 2% bonus for those who have an advanced degree of a Masters or above.
6. The abatement of the reduction of the workforce by 1,200 employees
Through smart negotiating with the County - including persuasive data-sharing - our Union was able to deter the County from this action. Many DSO's jobs were saved!
7. Objection to the unilateral implementation of denying promotions because of discipline
Over 50 employees received much-deserved promotions because of a settlement agreement established by our union. The Department has since "breached the agreement" causing several employees who deserved promotions, to be hindered. The Union has filed a petition on their behalf and is still actively trying to secure their right to be promoted.
8. Sick Days increased
For years we have only received eight sick days per year, but in the last contract sick days were increased to 12 days.
9. Fringe Benefits
There are two contracts for our members: a unit contract and a fringe contract. The fringe contract mainly negotiated our health expenses. In addition, we negotiated an additional holiday for Caesar Chavez and an additional week of vacation benefits. Several of your executive Board members are on that negotiating team.
10. Unfair Labor Practices 
Many 'ULPs' have been filed for aggressive violations by the Department.


These are just a few things we must remember as we celebrate our negotiated time-off during this festive season.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the membership for your commitment to work professionally and to continue to stand up for the rights and benefits that have been attributed to us by our efforts.
Let us also thank those who have been selected by the membership over the years to represent us and our interests as workers for the Great County of Los Angeles!
Below is the signature page of our last MOU of those who represented this bargaining unit during our contract negotiations.