Team Hutchens Gets All Puffed Up

H/T to The OC Register’s Jennifer Muir who reported on this late yesterday.

John Scott

In response to the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA) asking its members if they might be interested in a brief collective work stoppage, Under Sheriff John Scott sent a memo out to all OCEA represented department members. He instituted a new policy, effective immediately, that any employee represented by OCEA who calls in sick must have a doctor’s note to return to work.

OCEA conducted their member survey in response to notification from the department that only OCEA represented staff will be subjected to the next round of budget reducing layoffs. To date, other than a few management layoffs, OCEA members  are the only employees who have faced layoff in the budget cuts meant to address a $60 million shortfall.

Muir reported:

Scott wrote that requiring employees to show a doctors note will help the department maintain the “security and safety for all our employees.”

“We should never lose sight of the serious business that we are entrusted by the citizenry to carry out and that each member of this department plays a role in the safe execution of those duties,” he wrote.

Sheriff’s spokesman John McDonald elaborated this afternoon, saying many OCEA employees work in the jails and are vital to keeping correctional operations running safely.

“We’re not threatening anybody,” McDonald said. “These are our employees who we count on to work as part of our team.  … The reality is that staging a job action in a correctional facility is playing with fire.”

Berardino fired back, saying that requiring a doctor’s note amounts to “harassment and bullying tactics.” He says his union has only taken a survey to assess interest in a strike if negotiations reach an impasse, but emphasized that they haven’t taken any action.

“What the executives in this department have not learned through their years of experience is, intimidation may at times be a legitimate tactic for street criminals but it certainly is not appropriate when dealing with your employees,” he said.

This is really a bone-head move on the part of Scott. What’s he going to do, suspend of fire half the department he claims is so critical to operations that he had to issue this order? Has the guy ever though of talking, meeting, discussing, or negotiation? Why is it he thinks cutting only support staff is intelligent. Does he really think the remaining people can just “pick up the extra work?”

  4 comments for “Team Hutchens Gets All Puffed Up

  1. Claudio Gallegos
    January 7, 2010 at 9:35 am

    Don’t blame me. I wanted them to choose Ralph Martin.

  2. OCMom
    January 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I don’t understand the knee-jerk reaction by Under Sheriff John Scott. OCEA is talking about talking to the OCEA Sheriff’s Agency employees. That’s all. Now the people who are legitimately sick with the flu or migraine or whatever has to haul themselves to the doctor to get a note instead of staying in bed and getting better. What a bonehead move.

  3. Anyon
    January 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Just curious: How many OCEA employees are there at OCSD? Are we talking about lay off of 5% or a layoff of 50% because it would make a big difference. The only thing I’ve seen reported is the total number of layoffs which looks big but might not be.

  4. Ltpar
    January 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Not being familiar with the OCEA MOU with the Sheriff’s Department, or the Personnel Rules of the County of Orange, I can only surmise that they are similar to what other Public Agencies use. As a general rule, sick absences for a few days require no justification from anyone. A person could be sick with the flu, be in bed and off work for two or three days and not go to the doctor. You don’t want such employees at work, infecting others. For more extended sick absences, a doctor’s visit or release might be required. Even then, if the employee has a good work history, that rule might not be enforced. If an agency doesn’t enforce a rule or regulation consistently, it is the same as not having it at all. I would guess the response by the Under Sheriff could well be a knee jerk bluff, trying to head off a potential absence problem. I agree, it was not well thought out and not a good move by the Sheriff’s Department.

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