Court Negotiations Update - Aug. 5, 2019

Dear OCEA member,

Bargaining commenced on Friday, August 2nd  to negotiate a successor agreement for our Memorandum of Understanding. The current MOU expires on October 24th, 2019. Negotiations is where the union stands together to bargain the terms and conditions of employment for OCEA-represented workers.

The OCEA Bargaining Team is represented by Chief Spokesperson Charles Barfield, OCEA General Manager. He is supported by OCEA staff members Don Drozd, General Counsel and OCEA Operations Manager Bridgette Washington. The staff includes Michelle Rubio, Danielle Chau, Jessica Salazar and Tim Steed. OCEA members on the team are OCEA President Lezlee Neebe, OCEA Board members Rick Burns and Robert Hendricks as well as Marci Dambert, Shirley Chavez, Janay Marks, Maria Ruiz, Sharon Smith, Aimee Skochko, Shanon Sipilovic, and Robert Renison. These workers represent a diverse cross section of Court membership and speak for all OCEA Court members.

The chief spokesperson for the Court is Attorney Doug Freifeld. Mr. Freifeld is contracted by the Court to conduct negotiations and is accompanied by staff from the Human Resources and Executive Management team. They are ultimately receiving direction and authority from the CEO and the Presiding Judge.

At our meeting on Friday, Court Chief Financial Officer Darren Dang provided the OCEA bargaining team with a financial presentation. Overall, the Court is taking the position that they are financially constrained and expenses are growing faster than revenues. The OCEA bargaining team asked a series of clarification questions. Notably, we asked about the inability of the OC Court to properly account for filings in the JBSIS system which negatively impact the ability of the Court to receive state funding. We then gave own financial presentation illustrating the challenges from the perspective of our members and their families. We articulated the struggles OCEA members face as public servants in Orange County. Our overall message is that it's time to invest in the workers!

We also provided the Court with data. OCEA reviewed the salaries of other Court workers in California. Looking at the largest classifications in Orange County and comparing them to the same jobs in comparable California Courts, our analysis found that OCEA members are 16.6% behind the top of the market, and 5.6% behind the middle of the market. This means that Orange County Superior Court workers are among the lowest paid Court workers in the state.

Our next meeting is on August 14th  where we will exchange proposals for the first time. Our proposal will be succinct and focused on our top priority: secure a multi-year agreement with base building wage enhancements for all workers. 

If you want to learn how you can stand together with your coworkers and help with the bargaining process, please sign up at

In Solidarity,

Court Negotiations Team

Publication Date: August 5, 2019