The months of May and June are very important for labor and for our members dealing with upcoming budget issues. In May, the governor typically releases his budget revise that has a direct impact on State, County and City public employees. Similar to the State, various counties, cities and districts are beginning to have their budget workshops and hearings for the fiscal year 2017 / 2018.
Our largest employer, the County of Santa Barbara, has already concluded their budget workshops, in preparation for the County’s budget hearings in June. As usual, the County is claiming that they will have a major deficit due to increased pension costs and cuts to State & Federal programs. What County management and elected leadership are failing to state, is that much of their deficit is due to the building of a jail without the tax support from County residents, or that much of the increase in pension cost is due to the lowering of the assumption rate, with the majority of that cost attributed to safety groups and high paid management. Again, the Board of Supervisors and management are looking to the lowest paid staff, to take cuts either in pay or in staffing.
As unfair as this sounds, from 2008 to 2012, Local 620 members stepped up and provided over $30,000,000 in savings (approximately 20.0% of salary) to save members’ jobs. Upon review of membership reports since 2008, we find ourselves down by over 368 positions. There has been no reduction in work since 2008; in fact it has increased, due to increased impacts on the poor and the elderly. Existing staff have had to pick-up the work from coworkers who have not been replaced (the County does not even know how many vacant budgeted positions they currently have) or have been replaced by untrained extra help employees who are temporally hired and are not eligible for basic benefits like healthcare, vacation / sick time or holiday pay. These extra help positions are often extended, in direct violation of Civil Service Rules.
Below is a summary of extra help hired by the department, for fiscal year 2016 / 2017:
Board of Supervisors
|County Executive Office||10|
|Social Services Count||93|
|Child Support Services||3|
|Planning & Development||4|
|SBC Employee Retirement System||3|
Currently, the proposed County budget has service reductions of 306.3 total full time equivalent (FTE) positions being impacted (Layoff notices). 150.1 of these positions are vacant and 156.2 are filled, with the majority of these positions being represented by other labor organizations. Local 620’s possible impacts are 60.8 FTE with 35.8 FTE vacant and 25 FTE filled. The majority of these cuts are in Social Services and are a direct result of funding being cut at the State and Federal level.
I use the term “possible” due to many factors, such as the possibility of the governor revising his cuts to programs that support Social Services in his May revise, or the Board of Supervisors restoring cuts to departments by using reserves. In addition, the County has numerous other vacant budgeted positions that employees may be able to secure or they may have seniority within their classification / department that may allow them to bump to another filled position. Based on information from County HR, Local 620 may not actually lose any members; or if we do, it will be far less than the currently proposed 25 FTE positions.
The truth is that Local 620 will not know the full impact, until such time as we receive the Layoff abstract, which will provide the actual names of represented employees being impacted, along with their bumping rights to other positions or lack of bumping rights, which means that they are being separated from County employment. Again, the Governor and/or the Board of Supervisors have the authority to reduce or eliminate the need to displace workers.
Local 620 is dedicated to providing meaningful, quality service to our members. If and when we receive layoff notices and layoff abstracts, we perform the due diligence necessary to ensure that Civil Service rules, MOU language and employment law are adhered to. We look forward to interaction with members, both in a group setting and one on one. We value your constructive input and suggestions and we encourage you to participate in your Union’s activities.
Bruce Corsaw, Executive Director