County Negotiations Update: March 16, 2023

Dear OCEA member,

Formal 2023 negotiations commenced on Wednesday with a meeting between the OCEA and County bargaining teams. You can read our previous updates HERE. The County was led by its spokesperson, Supervising Deputy County Counsel Teri Maksoudian, and OCEA was led by our spokesperson, OCEA General Manager Charles Barfield.

County Financial Presentation
After brief introductory remarks by both sides, County Chief Financial Officer Michelle Aguirre presented a lengthy review of the County Strategic Plan. This is the same strategic plan presentation she provides to the Board of Supervisors, and it contains the County’s view of its current and projected financial position. We listened to the presentation and, following a brief discussion and agreement on bargaining ground rules, the session ended. The parties did not exchange initial proposals.

Next Steps
To be clear, OCEA’s top priority is to secure base building wage enhancements for workers in all OCEA-represented County bargaining units. Most County programs are understaffed and you are overworked. This work environment has unnecessarily created major barriers to the successful recruitment and retention of workers. And as you know, Orange County workers, more than in any other county, need base building wage enhancements just to keep up with the ever-increasing cost of living in our area.

In addition to fair and equitable wages, OCEA proposals will address many of the long-term challenges facing you and the communities you serve. It is a New Day in Orange County. OCEA is poised to meet the challenges of the 21st century and to seize on the opportunities those challenges provide. Our next update will focus more specifically on these and other 2023 negotiations priorities.

How You Can Help!
The OCEA negotiations team and the County will meet most Wednesdays throughout the Spring and we will communicate with you after each session. Our next meeting with the County is Wednesday, April 5. If you want to help support the efforts at the negotiations table and be more involved in negotiations, please join our Union Action Team. The UAT is a group of workers who are active during negotiations to help support the negotiations team’s efforts. You can learn more by clicking HERE.

You should also be on the lookout for membership meetings that negotiations team members will conduct in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more!

In Solidarity,


Publication Date: March 16, 2023