Tuesday, March 2, 2010
ADDA Files Sanctions Motion in Dispute With Cooley
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Association of Deputy District Attorneys yesterday filed a request for sanctions against the county based on its alleged bad faith conduct responding to the union’s previously filed motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent District Attorney Steve Cooley from discriminating or retaliating against union members.
U.S. District Court Judge Otis D. Wright II of the Central District of California said he was inclined to grant the injunction at a hearing last Tuesday and directed counsel for the county to e-mail him the text of ordinances addressed in oral argument which purportedly authorized the county to withhold health benefits from unionized prosecutors.
Montana attorney Matthew G. Monforton, a former county prosecutor who now represents the collective bargaining unit for Los Angeles’ deputy district attorneys, contended in yesterday’s motion that the two briefs filed by the county on Friday did not comply with the judge’s request, but rather served as “a surreply containing new arguments not raised previously by the County” based upon “patently disingenuous” assertions.
“Cooley has misrepresented facts concerning discrimination that his deputies have been subjected to and has instructed his attorneys to misrepresent those facts to a federal judge, something unbecoming of the chief law enforcement official of the county who seeks to become the chief law enforcement official of the state,” Monforton told the MetNews.
One misrepresentation made by the county, Monforton said in his motion, was the county’s assertion that the names of ADDA members were not known to Cooley’s management.
Monforton alleged that Assistant Head Deputy Peter Burke had obtained a list of members from the county’s Employee Relations Commission, which has been inquiring into allegations by the union and its officers claiming violations of the Los Angeles County Employee Relations Ordinance for the past year, and admitted to distributing the list to administration officials.
One of the attorneys representing the county, David Wilson of Manning & Marder, Kass, Elrod, Ramirez LLP, dismissed Monforton’s allegations as “inflammatory and inaccurate.”
He denied that there was any evidence that the current membership list of the union was known to anybody in management at the District Attorney’s Office, adding that the list the ADDA referred to was “a list of people who about two years ago voted to certify the ADDA as a union” which Cooley’s office had not obtained, but was inadvertently produced by ERCOM pursuant to a Public Records Act request by an individual who did not think the union was representing his interests.
“That list was not the list of people that are currently in the ADDA,” Wilson said.
Wilson also disputed Monforton’s claim that neither of the county’s Friday filings cited the ordinance which the county said authorized it to charge union members higher rates for medical insurance.
Wilson said the judge “invited us to provide our authority for why the law requires the county to not unilaterally change health care benefits for employees who are represented by a union,” and that the union “disagree[s] with the authority that we filed, and they’re free to do that, but we think our authority is persuasive.”
He claimed that the disparity in insurance rates paid by unionized and non-unionized prosecutors arose not from discrimination, but because the ADDA and the county have not been able to reach an agreement on the issue in labor negotiations.
“The county can’t unilaterally decide how much to subsidize the ADDA members’ health insurance benefits,” he explained. “That’s a matter for negotiation between the ADDA and the county.”
The ADDA and an unnamed member filed suit against Cooley, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Spillane, Bureau Director John Zajec and Assistant District Attorneys Curtis Hazell and Jacquelyn Lacey last October, claiming constitutional violations based on the defendants’ attempts to quash the fledging union.
The association, which bills itself as the largest prosecutors union in the country, was certified as the collective bargaining unit for the county’s deputy district attorneys in March 2008.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company