Chop at the Top

OC CEO Tom MaukThat was the subject line of an email last night to Orange County workers from Orange County Employees Association General Manager Nick Berardino. His message was in response to today’s latest salvo from County CEO Tom Mauk regarding budget cuts proposed for the Social Services Agency.

As the Orange County Register reported in a web story Wednesday night:

Orange County officials on Wednesday unveiled a series of steep cuts at the Social Services Agency that are aimed at quickly trimming $30 million in salary and services out of this year’s fiscal year budget.

Budget negotiators informed labor leaders that all 4,218 workers at the Social Services Agency will each be required to take up to 80-hours of unpaid leave over the next six months. In addition, 210 jobs must be cut, as well as 193 vacant positions.

County officials are concerned that the unions will seek a court injunction to stop the mandatory furloughs. But county managers have warned that if labor fights that option, then 625 jobs will be eliminated by Feb. 1.

“It’s not a threat, it’s a reality,” County CEO Tom Mauk said. He said the job cuts have to be implemented quickly because of a decline in state revenues that fund such programs.

In a letter to county workers on Tuesday CEO Mauk said; “let’s work together without rancor, posturing, and nonproductive rhetoric. The Board and this CEO staff are deeply concerned about ‘YOU’ and what’s going on. Let’s work together to meet the challenges presented by our economic situation.”

Then he shows up today with no documentation to back up what they want to do, no answers to week old questions, and a take it or leave it approach. Is this really what “working together” is supposed to look like?

Interesting how Mauk failed to exhibit leadership by offering up two weeks of his pay or a roll back of his 12% raise.

County workers are willing to “work together” with management and the Board of Supervisors to solve the crisis, but not with a gun held to their heads.

Mauk’s tactics are nothing more than posturing and rhetoric delivered in an effort to conceal his own incompetence at working out real solutions.

In his email Berardino told county workers:

Nick BerardinoOCEA met with the County and Social Services Agency managers today and SSA presented its ideas regarding budget reduction measures which included hundreds of layoffs. OCEA opposes most of the Agency’s recommendations and plans to vigorously fight their implementation.

You should know that the County has taken the position that it need not meet and confer with OCEA regarding the decisions it makes, but must only meet regarding the impact of those decisions. OCEA believes the County is 100% incorrect and will fight to enforce the rights of OCEA and its members in ALL County departments and agencies.

What Berardino is referring to is the “Meyers-Milias-Brown Act.”

3505. Conferences; meet and confer in good faith

The governing body of a public agency, or such boards, commissions, administrative officers or other representatives as may be properly designated by law or by such governing body, shall meet and confer in good faith regarding wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment with representatives of such recognized employee organizations, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 3501, and shall consider fully such presentations as are made by the employee organization on behalf of its members prior to arriving at a determination of policy or course of action.

“Meet and confer in good faith” means that a public agency, or such representatives as it may designate, and representatives of recognized employee organizations, shall have the mutual obligation personally to meet and confer promptly upon request by either party and continue for a reasonable period of time in order to exchange freely information, opinions, and proposals, and to endeavor to reach agreement on matters within the scope of representation prior to the adoption by the public agency of its final budget for the ensuing year. The process should include adequate time for the resolution of impasses where specific procedures for such resolution are contained in local rule, regulation, or ordinance, or when such procedures are utilized by mutual consent.

When the county walks into a room and says “we intend to change the terms and conditions of a negotiated labor contract and if you don’t agree to everything we want we’ll cut more,” that is not by any measure “meeting and conferring in good faith.”

  9 comments for “Chop at the Top

  1. Mr. Smith
    December 11, 2008 at 2:32 am

    Those of us in the private sector have watched our retirement benefits get decreased, jobs eliminated, and paycuts imposed. I think many out there in the community are not going to empathize with the complaints of employees looking at only a 3% cut and/or the elimination of less than 10% of your County workforce.

  2. Steve Kim
    December 11, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Yes, Mr. Smith, it is a race to the bottom, and the private sector is in the lead!

  3. Heather Pritchard
    December 11, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Mr. Smith – It’s unfortunate too that because so many of us who work in the private sector don’t understand that the unions are the last stand against us all losing everything. This is why Democrats so staunchly attempt to protect Unions and why the big 3 blaming workers for their lack of leadership on the car market is what the real problem is.

    Many have put up with dwindling retirements, less health care and less job security for far too long and our economy is now showing the wear and tear the middle class has taken because of “trickle down economics”. I wonder when we will stop pointing the fingers at each other and start working at fixing this mess so that everyone can prosper?

  4. Chris
    December 11, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Public sector employers are the only ones who still reward loyalty, whereas the private sector is loyal only to their shareholders. This is the “Ownership Society” that Bush talked about, where the powerful are happy to let the middle class and below take “ownership” for every misfortune that befalls them; the central idea being that everything that happens to you is your own fault, which in itself is based on the American myth of the self-made man (none of us is truly “self-made”).

    Obviously, the private sector can no longer be trusted to take care of its workers, so there should be a two-prong national retirement plan along the lines of what Canada has established.

    Although the government needs to do more to encourage Americans to save, it won’t because we are now a society that consumes much and produces little of tangible value.

  5. cook
    December 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Interesting. I have read the info kicked around the last week and wonder how a 3 percent across the board cut for everyone and no jobs lost, turned into what is in today’s paper.

    I read it as a 5 percent job loss and a 6.5 percent wage cut.

    I guess to save the raises and Christmas bonuses for the highbrows at the top, the working people of the county must pay.

    With a depression coming fast, to cut the agencies that are going to have the biggest increases in work load seems like a big mistake to me.

  6. Paul
    December 11, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Chris,
    I have a suggestion for you. Why dont you start a countdown for janet Nguyen on when she will shut down the district office she opened up in little saigon. That costs a couple hundred thousand dollars doesnt it? That should ave a coupleof jobs at the social services agency.

  7. Paul
    December 11, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    hey chris,
    another item for countdown would be the return of the moenies that the healthcare agency spent paying a special staffer for janet nguyens office.

  8. Steve Kim
    December 12, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    Isn’t there a mentally incompetent top manager?

  9. Colleen
    December 18, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    Let’s see if I have this right. The Board of Supervisors has decided to balance the budget on the backs of Social Services and the people they serve. I did some checking and last month the Santa Ana Regional center had 15,000 people walk into their lobby to apply for Medi-Cal or Food Stamp benefits and that number contiues to grow as the economy worsens. So the supervisors propose to cut staff by as many as 625 workers while the number of applicants increases daily.But in the mean time will spend half a million to upgrade their lobby and lunch room and provide themselves with a 12% pay increase. Then telling the Social services workers they will need to give up two weeks pay in addition to the lay offs. The lines at social Services will be around the building. But our supervisors will be eating in style in their remodeled lunch room. Have not heard a thing about trimming the Sheriff’s budget. In addition to all this Moorlach spent about a quarter million up grading his office. while preposing himself to be the champion of the people. What a circus!

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