County Negotiations Update: May 25, 2023

OCEA member,

The OCEA Negotiations team met with the County on Wednesday, May 24 for our sixth formal negotiations session. You can read our last recap here. You can also review the video from our May 11 virtual membership meeting where OCEA Lead negotiator, Charles Barfield, provided an overview of negotiations. 

On Wednesday, our team was excited to resume negotiations after waiting two weeks for the County’s team to receive additional authority from the County Board of Supervisors and to present their latest counterproposal. Our excitement was short lived because the County’s proposal did not address several important issues that the OCEA team proposed and only made minimal movement on others. Regarding wages, the County only made an incremental wage increase compared to their previous proposal. Our team was disappointed as it appears the County is falling back into its traditional view of negotiations, which means to go slow and drag the process along. 

Your team reiterated to the County that in these times of high vacancies, high inflation, the market, and other macro-economic conditions, now is not the time for small moves. County employees worked through the pandemic, never failing to deliver the essential services the County and Orange County community relies on. OCEA members have repeatedly “met the moment” and now it’s the County’s turn. The OCEA team concluded the session by sending the message that our members will not stand-by while the County delays our deserved MOU improvements.

While the day was not as productive as we would have liked, we still were able to have frank discussions about the needs of OCEA members and to pressure the County negotiations team to make more meaningful proposals in subsequent meetings. We hope the County will heed our advice and abandon their traditional negotiations tactics.

One way we can move the County is by activating our membership. A union’s best strength is our strength in numbers. To strengthen our position at the table, we need YOU! The best way to help is by joining our Union Action Team (UAT). Our UAT helps support the effort at the table by being the eyes and ears in the workplace and helping inform your co-workers about negotiations. Our next UAT meeting takes place virtually at Noon Thursday, June 1. RSVP for the Zoom link by emailing

OCEA meets with the County on Wednesday, May 31 for our seventh session. We will send out a recap after our next meeting. If the County continues to move slowly, our Negotiations team will discuss what escalation steps our union will have to take to secure a fair MOU.

In Solidarity,

Charles Barfield
OCEA General Manager

Publication Date: May 25, 2023