Tuesday, October 1, 2002
More Than 100 Superior Court Workers Rally to Protest Plan for Layoffs
By a MetNews Staff Writer
More than 100 court workers protested impending layoffs yesterday with rallies at the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Mosk Courthouse and at the Judicial Council’s regional headquarters, questioning the true financial condition of the court and demanding a state bailout.
The two principal court employee unions took different tacks, with the Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees marching downtown and leveling allegations that the court has spent lavishly on furniture and computers while aware of a severe financial crisis.
Union spokesman Damian Tryon said the court approved purchase of a $40,000 desk for a court administrator and spent thousands of dollars needlessly to replace computer monitors that were still brand new.
“It is simply immoral to lay off employees when there is this kind of reckless spending going on,” Tryon said.
The court has denied the particular purchases.
“They can come in and check anywhere they want,” court spokesman Kyle Christopherson said. “There is no such desk. There are no expensive new furnishings.”
The Superior Court last month laid off 168 part-time, trainee and student employees and said 150 full-time workers would be identified by Oct. 15 for another round of terminations, to take effect by Nov. 1. The court also plans to delete 26 bench positions, close 29 courtrooms, and cut at least $10 million from the court’s contract with the Sheriff’s Department.
The moves were announced after Gov. Gray Davis signed a budget bill—more than two months late—that left the Superior Court with $20 million less than it was planning to get and a total deficit for the current fiscal year of $57 million.
The AFSCME locals, which include paralegals, research attorneys, clerical workers and some of the courtroom clerks, until yesterday took the most visible role in their protest, passing out flyers to the public at the Superior Court’s two massive downtown buildings.
AFSCME workers were back at the Mosk Courthouse yesterday, with many workers sporting green outfits as they rallied near the court’s entrance.
Service Employees International Union Local 660, which represents court reporters, clerks and other workers, took a different tack, taking their march to the state Judicial Council’s Burbank office in a new building near the Glendale-Burbank-Pasadena airport.
It was the council that should be held responsible for the Superior Court’s financial condition, court reporter Gary Cramer said.
“The Judicial Council has been starving the court for several years,” Cramer said. “They have imposed mandatory programs but have failed to provide the money. AFSCME is focused on the short term fix. We think the long term fix is with the Judicial Council. We need both the short term and the long term.”
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company