It seems that the “Super-bowl of Negotiations” that the OC Board of Supervisors launched more than two-years ago has hit a big speed bump. Because the Board of Supervisors had determined that actual negotiations were not what they wanted, they hired a very expensive lawyer to handle the negotiations with all employee groups representing county employees. Agreements with eligibility workers represented by AFSCME and the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs are still outstanding, with the Sheriffs going to impasse with the county a little more than a week ago.
More than a year ago, the Board of Supervisors voted to impose a contract on the employees represented by the Orange County Attorney’s Association. The association appealed the boards action to the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The decision in the Attorneys complaint came in last week and it was not good news for the county.
From the Voice of OC story released Friday afternoon:
An administrative law judge representing the state Public Employment Relations Board ruled this week that Orange County supervisors acted in “bad faith” last year when they imposed wage and benefit concessions on more than 500 attorneys employed by the county.
The April 28 ruling by Judge Eric J. Cu, which covers attorneys working for the District Attorney, County Counsel and Public Defender offices, calls on the county to return wage and benefit concessions made to the unit (plus 7 percent interest) and also “compensate association unit members for any financial losses directly resulting from the county’s March 5, 2013 unlawful imposition.”
“The county participated in the negotiations preceding imposition in bad faith,” Cu stated in the decision.
Specifically, the ruling takes county officials to task for an abrupt change in negotiating tactics that coincided with the 2012 ousters of CEO Tom Mauk and Human Resources Director Carl Crown and the rise of supervisors Chairman Shawn Nelson.
Union representatives said the decision could affect county coffers by as much as $5 million and they are conferring to see what individual damages have been suffered by members. It also further complicates the county’s ongoing negotiations with 1,800 sheriff’s deputies, which are currently at impasse.
Read the complete story here.
The tactics used in the negotiations with the attorneys were the same deployed against all of the other employee groups. While most have settled their negotiations, the contracts will expire in about a year. This places the county in probably the worst possible position for negotiations. With their tactics ruled improper, it’s not likely the will be successful during the next round in pushing the other groups into unfavorable contracts. But even more damning, the ruling reveals that more than a million dollars has been wasted on a law firm, and lawyer, that cannot seem to follow basic labor law.