DA: Return to Work Update

Dear OCEA member,

On April 1, 2021, all workers in the District Attorney’s office received an email with direction to return to work no later than May 3rd. This email message was forwarded to an OCEA staff representative.

OCEA representative Saliem Aregaye and OCDA staff members Glenn Robinson and Matthew Pettit, communicated on the telephone, by email and by conference call in the weeks following the announcement. Through those discussions, we were able to develop recommended alternatives to address some member concerns including the following:

  1. Initial implementation of a hybrid schedule to stagger the return of workers to the workplace rather than everyone returning to work on the same day.
  2. Postponing the return to work until June 15 when the state is scheduled to reopen.
  3. Ensuring implementation of workplace safety practices, including mandatory masks.
  4. Adequately addressing concerns about adequate parking.
  5. Adequately addressing concerns of staff with school-aged children.

We attended meetings with OCDA management where they communicated the operational need to return to work and the steps taken to address worker concerns. Management told us the operational need to return to the workplace was the result of a gradual opening of other parts of the public safety system. They contended that OCSD workers have maintained a more normal work schedule during the pandemic, that Court workers are mixed between at-work and teleworking, and the Public Guardian and other agencies are gearing up for a return in the coming weeks. They also cited their belief that returning to the workplace would result in increased staff efficiency and productivity.

Last week OCDA Chief Deputy District Attorney Shawn Nelson and OCEA General Manager Charles Barfield met and discussed the return-to-work timeline. The Chief Deputy reiterated the​ District Attorney's position and assured OCEA that ​workers with unique circumstances should reach out directly to Human Resources and get an individualized evaluation of their situation.

OCDA HR and management have represented that safety precautions are in place (for example, that they have measured work spaces to ensure they are six feet apart). They have also committed to proactively work to enable the use of EPSL as needed, and that workers can address any unforeseen concerns with HR.

OCEA has communicated that we expect all OCDA employees to be subject to the same directives as OCEA-represented workers, that OCDA HR will work collaboratively and proactively with those who need additional resources, and that safety and parking issues will have been addressed prior to staff returning to the office.

If you feel you have an issue that needs to be resolved (for example, if you are impacted by school closures or have other childcare issues, or if you have medical restrictions and need further accommodations), please contact OCDA HR. If you feel that you still need further assistance or guidance, please contact your OCEA stewards or OCEA Labor Relations Representative Saliem Aregaye at saregaye@ocea.org.

In Solidarity,

Saliem Aregaye
Labor Relations Representative

Publication Date: April 30, 2021