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.
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.
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.
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