Wednesday, June 13, 2001
New Unions Join Old in Demanding Superior Court Pay Raises
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
Los Angeles Superior Court judicial assistants, exhibit clerks, accounting clerks and other employees rallied outside the downtown Central Courthouse yesterday to call for new contracts with raises to match those received last year by top court administrators.
Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, locals 3302, 575 and two new branches that have yet to receive numbers, carried signs stating “Just Practicing” and “Justice For All.”
“We’re trying to get the best we can for them,” said Fernando Becerra Jr., a judicial assistant bargaining for Local 575. “It’s been a smooth day of negotiations.”
Becerra said it was the first day of talks with the Superior Court, which now employs directly hundreds of workers who were formerly Los Angeles County or municipal court employees before unification with the municipal courts last year. As of Jan. 1, 2001, all court employees now work for the Los Angeles Superior Court under a transfer worked out over several years by the courts, the state Judicial Council and union leaders around the state.
Superior Court spokesman Kyle Christopherson declined to discuss details of the negotiations or comment on the workers’ demands, except to question union leaders’ assertions that managers got raises of 20 to 37 percent.
“I don’t know where they came up with those percentages,” Christopherson said. “They must have done their own math.”
Management raises were also due to unification in order to bring parity between continuing Superior Court and former municipal court administrators, he said. Some Superior Court officials had been making far less than their municipal court counterparts, he said.
Becerra said the employees want a fair share, comparable to managers’ raises.
“Last year, the courts unified in January,” he said. “Within three months ...an executive committee of the Superior Court voted to give top level managers pay raises.”
ncluded in the raises, the largest of which was $92,856, were the court’s public information officer, its district administrators, the executive staff education director and the alternate dispute resolution administrator, Becerra asserted.
Since unification, Becerra claimed, the “workload in the courtroom has tripled” for many of the non-management staff.
Other counties that unified their courts recognized the workload increase and gave their employees raises, he said. But Los Angeles, the “largest trial court system in the world,” has failed to follow suit, he said.
Contracts with local 3302 expired last year. Pacts with local 575 lapsed March 31.
The two new locals represent family law professionals and legal professionals taking their contract to the table for the first time.
Debbie Mercado, a child custody evaluator, is bargaining for the family law professionals, who include mediators and evaluators who provide “crucial information to judges” that have an impact on families and children.
She told the crowd that besides getting a pay raise, the court must stop engaging in unfair hiring practices.
Mercado spoke of one part-time employee who was running a district office by herself.
When a permanent position came up in the office, she was denied an interview, Mercado said.
“It’s not just about salaries,” she told the crowd through a bullhorn. “It’s about respect, recognition and justice.”
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company