Wednesday, April 6, 2005
Bill to Upgrade Trial Court Law Clerk Status Set for Hearing Today
Union Leaders Voice Optimism Lawmakers Will Support AB 176
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
Legislation that would grant Los Angeles Superior Court law clerks permanent employee status 180 days after beginning work will be heard in an Assembly Committee today and has good prospects of eventual passage, union leaders said yesterday.
Passage of AB 176 would be “just enforcing the will of the Legislature, clarifying the Legislature’s intent” in enacting the Trial Court Employment Protection and Governance Act several years ago, Damian Tryon told the METNEWS.
Tryon, who will be present on behalf of the law clerks at today’s hearing before the Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security, is a district representative of the American American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The court’s law clerks and research attorneys are represented by AFSCME Local 910.
As originally introduced by Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez, D-Norwalk, the bill would have applied to all trial court employees hired on a fulltime but non-permanent basis statewide, whether initially classified as temporary or “limited term.” But when court officials in other counties voiced concerns, Local 910 President Michael Boggs explained yesterday, Bermudez and the union agreed to amend the bill to have it apply only to Los Angeles County and only to law clerks.
The bill would specify what the union thought the law provided all along, Boggs said, which is that Government Code Sec. 71601(m), which provides that “[a]ny temporary employee...shall not be employed in the trial court for a period exceeding 180 calendar days...,” applies to law clerks.
The court felt otherwise, he explained, and persuaded an arbitrator that limited term employees such as law clerks, who are hired for one year at a time, are not “temporary” within the meaning of that particular subdivision of the code.
The court and Local 910 have had a somewhat contentious relationship, particularly since the court—citing budget constraints—two years ago ended its practice of promoting to research attorney positions all law clerks who satisfactorily completed a second year of employment.
Presiding Judge William MacLaughlin could not be reached yesterday afternoon for comment.
Copyright 2005, Metropolitan News Company