Looking to 2018 and beyond
2017 concluded with OCEA members ratifying our mediated short-term MOU agreement that was the culmination of months of negotiations. Throughout negotiations it was clear that in order for OCEA members to see truly fair contracts, fundamental issues related to Court funding and governance must be addressed. For too many years chronic underfunding has starved Orange County Court workers as Court leadership became increasingly hostile to front-line workers.
In Sacramento, Orange County is being deprived of its fair share of funding through the Work Allocation Funding Methodology (WAFM). WAFM was designed four years ago in order to address funding issues lingering from the great recession. The system established a funding method based on workload metrics provided by Court management from each County justice system. When the workload reports of Orange County were compared to those of other Counties, Orange County was deemed to be a “donor” court. This status meant that Orange County had and continues to have critical funding diverted to other courts. In the past three years Orange County has been underfunded compared to other judicial systems by an average of 20.75%. This cannot continue.
On Thursday, Jan. 18 a delegation of OCEA leaders from the Court will travel to Sacramento to meet with elected leaders and lobby for funding relief for Orange County. Working with OCEA’s lobbyists, workplace leaders and OCEA staff will meet with local Orange County legislators as well as Legislative staff members assigned to the committees that impact funding of the Superior Court system. It is our intention to secure commitments from the Orange County delegation to provide better funding to Orange County, and to make sure that OCEA members benefit from any funding increase.
Beyond working in Sacramento, there is work to do in connection with provisions of the recently approved MOU. OCEA workplace leaders and staff will establish working groups of OCEA members to work on implementing market studies, evaluating responsibility for providing real time communication during Court proceedings, and continuing to recruit workplace leaders at every justice center and in every job classification.
It is not fair that Orange County is not receiving its fair share of funding. It is not fair that it costs more and more to live and work in Orange County. It is not fair that costs keep going up, while wages stagnate. And it is not fair that Court executives have made themselves immune from the struggles facing most rank and file Court workers. The challenges do not have simple solutions, but what we know for certain is that we can only move forward and right these wrongs if we stand together.
We will report to you after our Lobby day and let you know how you can help this concerted effort.
OCEA Senior Labor Relations Representative
Publication Date: January 11, 2018