Thursday, July 19. 2001
Superior Court, Research Attorneys Reach Contract Accord
By ROBERT GREENE, Staff Writer
The Los Angeles Superior Court and its research attorneys reached a tentative agreement yesterday on a three-year contract that will boost the lawyers’ pay and for the first time make most of them regular court employees.
The agreement is subject to a Saturday ratification vote by union members and then approval by the court’s Executive Committee, probably Wednesday.
The senior-most of the court’s 67 research lawyers will get a 29 percent pay increase, amounting to about $1,000 a month, “which ain’t hay,” research attorney Michael Boggs said. He and other senior research attorneys will earn a top salary of $70,978, he said.
New research attorneys will get around $50,000, with adjustments depending on whether the lawyer is a member of the State Bar, Boggs said. The figure reflects a cost of living increase, but no general pay raise.
The deal also ends temporary employment status for research attorneys who work for the court for at least two and a half years. Until now, all research attorneys were deemed temporary employees, with limited retirement benefits, regardless of how long they worked for the court.
Boggs said the court made an offer in December to make the lawyers regular full-time workers after a two-year temporary employment period and another month of probationary status. The deal reached yesterday eliminates the two-year period for lawyers who already have worked for the court for more than two years, and shortens the probationary period for new hires to six months following the two-year temporary employment time.
Superior Court spokesman Kyle Christopherson confirmed that a tentative deal had been reached but could not offer details.
Boggs acknowledged that his union, the Legal/Professionals Employee Representation Unit, AFSCME Local 3271, got little more than the court offered more than seven months ago. He said the agreement will take lawyers “from being the lowest paid in the state to the lowest paid in Southern California.”
Top Orange Superior Court research attorneys get $100,000 a year, he said.
“One of the problems was we’re a very small union,” Boggs said. “The court did not see us as having a lot of bargaining power.”
Most other court employees represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees reached accords a month ago. That includes units representing judicial assistants, exhibit clerks, and accounting clerks.
Local 3271 was left out of those agreements.
The unit represents paralegals as well as research attorneys, but the paralegals already had reached a separate deal with the court.
Copyright 2001, Metropolitan News Company