Important CST/CSA Update

Dear OCEA Member,

As you know, after eight years of litigation by OCEA against the Sheriff's Department, the Courts determined that SSOs are legally classified as public officers under Penal Code section 831.4. This determination impacts staffing in the Superior Court because under the Government Code only peace officers under Penal Code section 830.1 or 830.33 may perform bailiff duties.

The Sheriff's Department initially delayed movement of SSOs out of bailiff positions due to the pandemic but has now decided to begin that transition to comply with the law. This transition will take over a year to complete as SSOs will be transferred to other positions at the conclusion of each Academy class. The first round of transfers will include 12 SSOs moving into the jails.

The Department will determine specifically where each SSO will be transferred based on its management right to assign and transfer work according to its operational needs. There has not been a specific decision to simply move SSOs into positions currently occupied by CSTs or CSAs. The Department has communicated that it continues to review job specifications of all classifications as it evaluates what work can be performed and by who.

The Department has confirmed that SSO job specifications and duties include inmate contact. Also, while CSAs may not traditionally have been used in positions that have inmate contact, nothing in their job specifications precludes the Department from assigning them such duties.

We understand the frustration and confusion that has occurred, much of it a result of inaccurate rumors and miscommunication. We know SSOs wanted to stay in the Courts and that the ensuing transfers of CSAs and CSTs were disruptive to anyone impacted. Your OCEA representatives continue their commitment to doing everything possible to minimize any negative impact of this management decision. 

Most importantly we have been assured by the Department that nobody will be laid off - no SSOs, no CSAs, and no CSTs. Additionally, when we recently spoke directly with Assistant Sheriff Briggs, Assistant Sheriff Park, and Assistant Sheriff Balicki, they conveyed the Department's belief that there will be a reduced number of SSO transfers going forward due to attrition and related actions such as SSOs moving into Deputy Sheriff Trainee positions, retirements, and openings in other areas like the Airport, Security Bureau and Courts. The Assistant Sheriffs repeated their goal of minimizing the impact on everyone, with a primary focus on avoiding any type of layoffs.

We have also heard from many of you about the increased CST workload resulting from the reduction or elimination of inmate crews during the pandemic. CST job specifications and duties do provide that CSTs "perform and/or oversee" duties such as cleaning, laundry exchange, etc. But we understand the additional stress on your workplace and personal life the increased workload has caused and are strongly advocating with the Department to provide you some measure of relief.

Last year at this time we communicated that the long-awaited official merger discussions looked like they were proceeding towards completion. Then COVID hit and those discussions stopped. We are now hopeful merger discussions will resume in April and will communicate any developments as they occur. As you know, the merger has the potential to improve working conditions by adding flexibility to work duties, providing more opportunities, and facilitating career development. The current intent is to make the move from CST to CSA voluntary for individual workers.

The commitment we made to you in late 2019 when the merger concept was developed has not changed: Once we have identified and confirmed specific impacts from the merger, we will share them with you. We will also do everything that we can to ensure that the merger will result in positive career and/or economic opportunities for OCEA members.

Thank you for all that you do and for staying strong.

In Solidarity,

Kate Wolf
OCEA Labor Relations Representative

Danielle Chau
OCEA Labor Relations Representative

Aaron Peardon
Senior Labor Relations Representative

Publication Date: March 29, 2021