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Attention Riverside County Members (Sepember 8, 2017)

Actually, this isn't going to be so much an update as a brief discussion of our next steps in the impasse process.

Currently we are waiting to hear whether the County will agree to attempt to resolve our differences through mediation. The Board does not meet again until Tuesday, so we don't expect to hear anything before then.

In the meantime, we have 30 days from date of the County's declaration of impasse to file for Fact Finding. Unlike mediation, Fact Finding is not optional for the employer. Fact Finding is very much like an arbitration, but with some key differences. Notably, the parties argue their cases before a three person panel rather than a lone decision maker. The panel consists of 3 people- 1 is appointed by the Union, 1 is appointed by the employer, and one neutral person  is jointly selected by the Union and the employer. Since neither the Union's nor the employer's panel choices are likely to be unbiased, it is the neutral panel member who is the true decision maker. This person also functions as the chair of the panel.

The hearing is supposed to occur within 10 days of the appointment of the Panel Chair, which rarely happens. It would be highly unusual for an arbitrator on whom both sides have agreed to have any availability within 10 days. Since we are somewhat at the mercy of the schedules of the available arbitrators, it is impossible to know exactly when the hearing would be scheduled.

The decision, or "findings," are to be issued within 30 days of the appointment of the Panel Chair. Again, this is unlikely because it is highly probable that we will not have a date scheduled within 10 days of the appointment.  Also,  it will likely be necessary to schedule more than one day for the hearing.  It is probable as well that extensions will be granted for the submission of post hearing briefs.

Within 10 days of the decision being issued, a public hearing on the Panel's findings must be held. After that, the Board will either accept or reject, in whole or in part, the decision of the fact finder.

If, after that hearing,  the County were to impose the terms and conditions of their Last, Best, and, Final Offer, we are then officially without a contract and are legally permitted to engage in strikes and other similar job actions. The County can only impose terms for up to 12 months, and they are required to begin bargaining with us again before they adopt their next budget.

Currently, I believe that the Fact Finding process is on average taking just under 90 days from the selection of the neutral to the final public hearing. Based on my description of the process, you can imagine that any number of things may effect a longer or shorter process. In any event, this is a process that takes some time.

Until that process is exhausted, everything in our contract remains unchanged.

Please feel free to contact me with questions regarding this or any other matter.

Also, please try to attend our meetings this month. We discuss our plans in much greater detail than we do in more public forums.

In Solidarity,

Stephen Switzer, Business Manager

Attention Riverside County Members (Sepember 1, 2017)

Most of you have received a memo from Mike Stock, the County HR Director, as well as memos from your departments  regarding the strike action that SEIU has planned for next Wednesday and Thursday.

As I have said repeatedly, next week's activities are not in any way associated with LIUNA or our current bargaining situation. And, according to SEIU, it is not even related to their own bargaining situation. Rather it is related to a specific  Unfair Practice Charge related to safety concerns affecting some of their members. We have been extremely clear about this, which is what makes Stock's memo, as well as the other memos that the departments have issued, so wildly inappropriate.

Even though we are at impasse, our contract remains in full effect. Our MOU is very clear on the circumstances which allow management to require a physician's note from one of our members after an absence. You happening to be sick on days when another union is on strike is not one of those circumstances.

In this regard, our position is that next week is no different than any other week for our members. If you are sick, you should call in sick. If you call in sick and are seen engaging in activity inappropriate  for someone claiming to be sick, you will be subject to discipline. That is the case 365 days a year, every year.

It is our position that  requiring any LIUNA represented employee, not subject to the requirements of the Medical Certification Program, to provide a physician's note after an absence, is a violation of our contract.

We have notified the County of our position regarding this matter. If the memos are not retracted, and if, after an absence during the period of SEIU's strike, any member of ours is required, who would not otherwise be required to do so, to provide a physician's note, we will immediately file with PERB.  

So, if you happen to be sick on Wednesday or Thursday of next week, and you are required to show a note from the physician, then please notify our office immediately.

Over the next couple of days I will be posting more about the impasse process and what we can expect in terms of the timeline of events, including strikes and other aggressive job actions.

This is all I'm going to post for today, except to wish all of you a peaceful and safe Labor Day weekend.

In Solidarity,

Stephen Switzer, Business Manager

PS: If you don't know what the Medical Certification Program is, then you are not on it.

Riverside County Bargaining Update (August 30, 2017)

This afternoon we received word that the County has declared impasse with LIUNA. To describe this as an outrage would be far too gentle a term. The proposal that they rejected outright was one that contained no new money but for two modest increases to the flex benefit. The Board can vote to give themselves a raise, but not to give you a modest increase in your ability to afford health insurance for you and your families. Unconscionable is the only word that comes to mind.

This of course demonstrates the contempt with which we are regarded by the County. Clearly, the County does not appreciate everything you do to maintain the life of our communities and the services you provide. But, soon enough the County will find out just how vital the work is that you perform.

I won't pretend that this is not a very grim situation. However we have rights that we will aggressively assert as we move forward into the impasse process.

We will make a formal request for the County to engage in mediation. They are not required to do so, and frankly I won't be at all surprised if they refuse to do so. Also, early next week we will have our Unfair Practice Charge filed with PERB. This charge will detail the County's refusal to bargain with us in good faith.