That 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:
OCEA 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.”