On Thursday, Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) General Manager Nick BerardinoÂ sent a message to his members. In effect, OCEA has declared a unilateral cease fire in their ongoing disagreement with the County Board of Supervisors over the current financial crisis, and how best to deal with its impact on the county budget and workforce.
As we approach negotiations for new contracts in our County units, we continue to face many challenges. The economy nationally and in California is spiraling downward, and it looks as though the new state budget may already be in trouble. It appears that the state budget could be $4-$12 billion short in May. It seems impossible that only a few weeks after a historic budget battle in the legislature, even before the ink is dry, the state budget is already in trouble–but it is.
We have obviously been very aggressive in our approach with the County regarding layoffs and the County’s lack of concern for its employees. At the same time, we have continually requested that the County meet with us and seek positive solutions. To date the County has refused to engage in these discussions. However, the County is required by law to come to the bargaining table and begin face-to-face discussions and negotiate toward a new contract.
At OCEA, we believe that we should begin these discussions by taking the high road. We should express our sincere desire to reach an agreement that will protect all of our interests during this time of unprecedented financial crisis. We truly want to be partners with the County in a cooperative effort that creates solutions, not divisions. To this end, we have suspended our TV ad and are holding in abeyance further concerted action against the County.
We will make every effort to work together with the County, but let there be no doubt that should the County choose to conduct itself in a manner that demonstrates a lack of commitment to a cooperative partnership, we will once again be left with no other option but to resume and continue aggressive actions against the County.
We sincerely hope that OCEA and the County can work together and jointly find positive solutions during this challenging time.
I am very interested in getting your feedback. It is important to us, so please do not hesitate to respond to this email with your thoughts.
I sure hope the Board steps up and starts working with OCEA to solve these issues.