Superior Court of Alameda County

Alameda Court workers ratify TAs

Both the Alameda Court clerks and reporters voted overwhelmingly Friday, Feb. 19 to ratify their two contracts. The bargaining teams were facing an employer who claimed to have little left in this year’s budget and is unsure what the court may get in funding from the state in the next two years. The union’s researcher scoured the books and could find little there of use.

So at the table court management offered just a 1% raise retroactive to July 5, 2015. But after years of cuts and no raises that simply was not enough.

The clerks team made several proposals for reasonable wage increases, with an emphasis on more raises for certain classifications that had lost out because of previous management shenanigans. But while court management acknowledged the clerks deserved it, they couldn’t make the numbers work. So the team got creative.

They proposed bringing back the step increases that previous management had eliminated several years ago. That move had left most clerks stuck in the Legal Processor Assistant 2 (LPA2) classification at the wage rate they were at then and never able to go up steps or be promoted to the LPA3 classification with its higher pay. With the steps reinstated LPA 2s would get not just the 1% raise retro to last July, but the top step in the LPA 2 classification would get another 1% “equity” increase in the second and in the third year of the contract, as well as the possibility of promotion to LPA 3 and its higher steps.

Likewise, the courtroom clerks, who had also fallen behind, received the 1% retro raise for the first year and another 1% equity raise for both the second and third years.

With these changes, and the reinstatement of pay cuts to the LPA 3s in the previous contract, the clerks bargaining team moved forward on their commitment to the members to fix the pay inequities in the chapter. They also won wage reopeners in the second and third years of the contract (after the court finds out how much money it will get from the state) to continue that strategy.

The court reporters will receive the 1% raise retroactive to July 5, 2015, and wage reopeners in the following two years, along with a one-time $1000 stipend. They also won a new “Certified Real Time Reporter” classification with a 9% raise, and a one-time “longevity” payment of $1500 or five days of vacation for those who have served 15 years or more.

Arguably more important than the money, both the clerks and the reporters won binding arbitration for the first time. Before this contract when a grievance rose to the level of arbitration, court management could simply ignore the arbitrator’s decision if it wanted to – and had. Now they must obey the law and ruling.

Both teams also gained new language on transfers throughout the court’s nine sites, with seniority ruling most preferred transfers, and the establishment of a joint labor-management working group to address commuter issues, including parking.

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Court workers blast Judicial Council

Court workers from all over California descended on a subcommittee meeting of the state’s Judicial Council — the group of judges appointed by the Chief Justice to run the state’s courts — to go on record opposing its latest scheme to consolidate power. The so-called Commission on the Future resurrected a number of previously discredited proposals, modestly termed “concepts.” They were presented as odes to the twin gods of technology and efficiency, but were really aimed at eliminating court unions at whatever cost to the court services the Judicial Council is supposed to provide.

Beginning the union’s onslaught of criticism, Kimberly Rosenberger of the SEIU California State Council scolded the judges for the Judicial Council’s continuing dishonesty and lack of transparency. She said that when SEIU members came to a December meeting of the Commission to testify against a proposal to consolidate the labor relations and contracts of all 58 California courts, Judge Carol Corrigan, who chairs the Commission, told them that idea had never been considered and never would be. The court workers concerns, Corrigan said, were based on “misinformation.”

“Yet here we are at the next Future’s Commission meeting discussing it as an agenda item,” Rosenberger said.

Rosenberger went on to make the overarching point of the union’s critique of the concepts being floated.

“We fully embrace technology,” she said. “But we want to be clear that it should be used to supplement personnel, not replace them,” she said.

Alameda court worker Jerri Garcia, a clerk in the traffic department at the Fremont Hall of Justice and a member of her chapter’s bargaining team, presented the union’s problems with the consolidation concept. First, she pointed out that all the parties doing the work on the front lines of justice in the courthouses – judges, Presiding Judges, Court Executive Officers and all the court unions in California – are on the record as opposing this. They know they need the local ability to flex policy to best fulfill their mission of serving the public, which is the real measure of efficiency, she said.

Garcia said one size doesn’t fit all in labor policy, noting the different needs of a large urban court like Los Angeles and a small rural court like Amador. She said that local collective bargaining helps labor and management collaborate and build trust as they tackle problems together in ways a contract imposed from a far never could.

SEIU 1021 Alameda Court chapter President Debbi Pearson backed up that sentiment with an example of her bargaining unit completing negotiations just a couple of days previously, working with management to resolve a pay inequity issue that dealt with each sides needs within the court budget.

Then SEIU 1021 Alameda court reporters chapter President Theresa Aguilar, California Court Reporters Association President Brooke Ryan and SEIU 721 court reporter from Los Angeles Carolyn Dasher teamed up to blast the next concept, using electronic recordings instead of trained and licensed court reporters to keep a proper record of proceedings.

They pointed out that accurate transcripts are required on appeals; that recording equipment can fail and leave nothing usable; that without court reporters no one will stop the proceedings to make sure the record is clear if someone’s testimony is inaudible, when lawyers are talking over each other or if a witness is sobbing. They noted there is no monetary savings when new equipment needs to be bought, someone has to be paid to monitor, maintain and repair it, and when recordings inevitably need to be transcribed anyway.

This is not the first time these issues have been debated and it won’t likely be the last. SEIU may well have to go lobby the legislature to make sure the public isn’t swindled again.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS: SEIU 1021 CONVENTION 2015

SEIU 1021 CONVENTION 2015

Oakland Airport Hilton, September 26-27

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For the latest updates, go to: www.1021convention.org

The convention will be a transformative event, where members will gain greater clarity, energy, motivation and direction to step more fully into their power, with grace, vision, courage and knowledge. This is an opportunity for chapter building, engaging and developing potential leaders, hence making it a priority for staff and elected officers.

Q: What are the qualifications to be a delegate?

A: To be eligible, a member would have to had paid dues for any 4 months in 2014 as well as either January or February, 2015.


Q: Can fee payers participate in the nomination and/or delegate election process?

A: Yes, once they sign a membership form, then they can nominate and vote.

 

 Q: How many delegates can each Chapter elect?

A: Every Chapter gets 2 delegates automatically. After 300 members, each chapter will have 2 additional delegates. For every additional 150 members, a chapter will have 2 additional delegates.

 

Q: What is the period of time for completing elections?

A: April 20-July 20, 2015

 

Q: What is an “uncontested ballot”? (Previously referred to as “white ballot”)

A: When there are more or an equal number of delegate slots as candidates, that is referred to as a uncontested ballot and the chapter does not need to hold a full election.

 

Q: How are alternate delegates selected?

A: In case a delegate can’t participate due to scheduling, illness, etc. Chapters should select alternates even if the delegate election for that Chapter is uncontested or the Chapter does not elect the full number of delegates which it is entitled to.

Here are the rules for selecting alternates: All Chapters are encouraged to select at least two (2) alternates. Alternates need to be ranked by votes received (e.g. the highest vote total becomes Alternate #1, second highest voted becomes Alternate #2, etc.)

In Chapters with “uncontested ballots” (where there are more or an equal number of delegate slots as there are candidates, thus making an election unnecessary), Chapters are still encouraged to select up to two (2) alternates and designate these as Alternate #1 & #2.

Convention Delegates, who become ineligible or unable to attend, shall notify the 1021 Convention Election Committee in writing no later than 8/20/15. An Alternate or Alternates will then be credentialed and seated. Delegates who notify the 1021 Convention Election Committee after 8/20/15 will not be replaced by an alternate.

Q: Which chapters may select honorary delegates? How will honorary delegates be selected?

A:Workers who have recently organized with Local 1021, but who have not ratified their first collective bargaining agreement may select honorary delegates.  The process for selecting honorary delegates will be as follows:  two (2) honorary delegates will be elected at upcoming membership meetings.

 

If you are a Delegate:

Q: How will delegates register for the convention?

A:  Once the delegate certification form is turned in, the delegate will be sent a welcome letter by e-mail and mail which gives them directions on how to register.  (That is why it is critical that their contact information is on certification form).

 

Q: Do we pay lost time for delegates attending the Convention?

A: Yes, follow the local’s lost time policy. Anyone working from 12:01am on Saturday through 11:59pm on Sunday will receive lost time.

For example: If a delegate works anytime on Saturday or Sunday they may request lost time. So for instance if a member has a shift that starts 11pm on Friday September 25th but goes to 7am Saturday the 26th they may request the time off for their Friday shift and they would receive lost time per the guidelines specified in the policy.

 

Q: What are the rules around Friday night hotel stays for delegates?

A: Delegateswho travel 75 miles or more (one way) are qualified for Friday night lodging. All Delegates are entitled to Saturday night lodging (there is no required miles to qualify).

 

Q: What are the rules around the hotel stay on Saturday evening?

A: All delegates are encouraged to stay at the hotel regardless of how close they live to the venue. The local will pay the cost for double occupancy. Depending on room availability, they may request a single room but would need to pay the additional costs.

 

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Alameda Superior Court members organize their co-workers

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For years, many non-management employees of the Alameda County Superior Court have labored alongside their SEIU 1021 co-workers without the benefits of union rights and protections. Court attendants, jury room and family law clerks, specialists in parolee reentry and pre-trial services, even some financial department technicians, have been forced to work without a voice on the job.

That all changed when the SEIU 1021 bargaining team for the legal processing clerks and courtroom clerks decided in their December 2013 contract negotiations that their co-workers deserved representation and took decisive action to make it happen.

Then the bargaining team brought in SEIU 1021’s Organizing Department and started the process of identifying the classifications and members that would fit into their unit, and began signing them up. With new management making big changes throughout the court, the unrepresented members soon recognized that the union was their only protection, and soon a majority was on board. The union submitted the signatures of 50 of the 65 members it was seeking to represent.

Friday morning, the State Mediation and Conciliation Service verified majority support for the union and completed the process of organizing a new group of brothers and sisters into SEIU Local 1021.

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Purple Up!

PurpleUp2

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Alameda County court workers prevail in fight against takeaways

DSC_0367With a strike looming, management at the Superior Court of Alameda County and workers represented by SEIU Local 1021 reached an agreement reversing a series of contentious takeaways. Workers ratified it Wednesday, May 15, averting a shutdown.

The breakthrough came after the union announced a strike date—it would hit all eight of the county’s court sites Monday, May 20. The next day management reversed its position, agreeing with what the union has contended since negotiations began last October—that the court had the money to make the cuts unnecessary. Management rescinded the three furlough days and the pay cuts it had imposed.

“We are pleased with the settlement. It is an important first step toward healing our ailing justice system in Alameda County,” said Danielle Labrecque, a courtroom clerk in Hayward and a member of the bargaining team. “Our rallies and other actions clearly got our message across—we are strong and united and not going to accept any more cuts.”

State budget cuts over the last five years have seriously eroded court services, jeopardizing citizens’ Constitutional right of access to justice, especially for the poor and middle class, and leading to layoffs and pay cuts for the workers. Only the lobbying efforts of SEIU court workers statewide last year kept the courts funded sufficiently to allow this victory. They are planning to go to Sacramento to push for restoring more funds again next week.

“With this contract settled, we can now move look ahead to our next contract bargaining later this year to improve our jobs and the services we provide the public,” said Debbi Pearson, president of the Local 1021 Alameda court workers chapter.

 

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Alameda Courts Workers Prevail in Fight Against Takeaways

Ratification Voting Scheduled This Wednesday

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Our SEIU Local 1021 negotiating team reached an agreement with Alameda County court management that reverses a series of contentious takeaways – including furloughs and pay cuts – that members have opposed for months. The agreement represents a historic victory for court workers and a much-needed step toward improving the justice system for county residents.

The parties had been at loggerheads for months, but negotiations were scheduled for Monday after the union announced the strike date. All our rallies, pickets, and preparations appear to have sent the intended message – that we are willing to hold the line and fight further attacks on public services and the court workers that provide them.

The members voted for the strike and only a vote of the members can validate the terms of the agreement reached with management. We have won what we wanted – specifically rolling back the takeaways we opposed. Your bargaining team unanimously recommends a “YES” vote to settle this contract and call off the strike.

Terms of the Tentative Agreement:

The furloughs have been eliminated. *The union will meet with management next week to ensure that furloughs are reimbursed appropriately.

The LPA pay cuts scheduled for 2013 and 2014 will not be implemented.

The courtroom clerks salary steps and pay level changes scheduled for July 1, 2013 will not

be implemented.

Voting will take place at all court sites on Wednesday, May 15 from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the locations below:

Alameda Hall of Justice: Break room, second floor

Berkeley Courthouse:TBA

Fremont Hall of Justice: Jury Room

Hayward Hall of Justice: Conference Room, Mezzanine

Pleasanton Hall of Justice: Dept 705

RCD Courthouse: Jury Room

San Leandro Juvenile Justice Center: Conference Room C3027, 3rd floor Admin.

Wiley Manuel Courthouse: Dept. 111

 

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Superior Court of Alameda County Strike Date Announced

Join us! Support us! Stand STRONG with us!

Join us! Support us! Stand STRONG with us!

Come show support for your fellow SEIU Members throughout all Superior Court Locations within Alameda County!!

Monday, May 20, 2013 7am-5pm

Come to a location nearest you! Wear purple as a sign of your support for our members holding STRONG and standing in the picket lines: http://www.alameda.courts.ca.gov/pages.aspx/court-locations-overview

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R U A STRIKE SUPPORTER!!!

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Court workers authorize strike for justice

banner2Following years of cuts, SEIU Local 1021 Alameda Court workers have authorized a strike with preparations for a walkout now being made.

“They’ve pushed us too far this time,” said Sylvia Casarez, a legal processing assistant at the Hayward Hall of Justice. “Now we have to take a stand.”

The Local 1021 court workers’ bargaining team entered talks with management last October. Both sides want a one-year agreement since funding from the state in these budget times has been impossible to forecast.

Management came in with one significant demand—three furlough days to be taken prior to June 30, 2013—a cut management acted as though workers should quickly and gracefully accept.

In Fiscal Year 2008-09, workers were forced to take 10 furlough days. In FY 2009-10, another 10 furlough days plus health insurance premium co-pay increases and layoffs.

Another eight furlough days and increased health insurance premiums came in FY 2010-11. In 2012 the vast majority of Legal Processing Assistants (LPAs), the largest classification of clerks in the court, were demoted with a corresponding cut in pay. Between the layoffs and unfilled positions from attrition, workloads increased dramatically. Now they were being told to take three more furlough days.

This time, however, the court has a huge reserve fund that by law has to be nearly all spent by June 30, 2014 or be forfeited to the state.

The reserve has more than $10 million, while management calculations indicate furloughs will save the court only $660,000. The workers have seen more money than that wasted on a new phone system that doesn’t work. They were fed up with being expected to pay for management’s incompetence and the raises they received.

Local 1021’s bargaining team made this case at the negotiating table—but management continues to demand furloughs without discussion or compromise. By February management told the workers to either agree to a contract with the three furloughs or have them imposed. In response, the workers voted for a strike.

“At this point it isn’t about the three more furloughs,” said Alameda Court chapter president Debbi Pearson. “We’re tired of being walked over, of being treated like they can just keep bleeding us and we’ll just keep taking it.”

Lunchtime meetings are being held at all the courthouses throughout the county this week. The workers are now signing strike pledge cards and preparing a walkout.

 

 

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