Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Deputy Sickout Delays Opening of San Gabriel Valley Courthouses
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
A resumption of a sickout by courtroom deputies yesterday caused delays at two San Gabriel Valley courthouses, sheriff’s and court officials said.
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Assistant Division Director Andrew Lamberto said the Citrus courthouse was unable to open until about 10 a.m. after 14 of the 20 deputies assigned to the facility called in sick. Lamberto said 47 of the 70 deputies assigned to the four East District courthouses called in sick, but the other facilities were able to open at or nearly at their usual times.
A Los Angeles Superior Court spokesperson said proceedings in three courtrooms at the El Monte courthouse were delayed until about 10 a.m.
In addition, about 90 deputies called in sick at the Lennox, Century, Carson, Compton, Industry and East Los Angeles sheriff’s stations, sheriff’s spokesperson Steve Whitmore said.
Last week, following a series of job actions over a two-week period—including numerous deputies calling in sick at various court assignments and jail assignments—a temporary restraining order was granted against such activities.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors sought the TRO against the leadership of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, or ALADS.
The request was granted by an Orange County judge, who barred union leaders from encouraging or influencing Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies to call in sick.
County Counsel Lloyd Pellman would not detail exactly what types of sanctions deputies could face if they call in sick.
“At the present time, anyone who has submitted a falsified doctor’s certificate, or who has indicated that they are sick when they are not, would be subject to discipline by the department,” Pellman said.
The Board of Supervisors will discuss the continuing sickout at its meeting today, Pellman said. An Oct. 14 hearing is scheduled on the county’s request for a preliminary injunction against the deputies.
Whitmore said more than 7,000 deputies — about 80 percent of the deputies in the sheriff’s department — have been served with the TRO, including all or nearly all of those who called in sick this morning.
Whitmore said it was unclear what would happen next, but deputies found to have violated the TRO could face various sanctions.
“The sheriff believes that punishing the public for a labor issue is wrong ... and the deputies should not fool around with the law when they are enforcing the law,” Whitmore said.
Jeff Monical of ALADS declined to comment on this morning’s action.
Earlier, an ALADS representative had declined to characterize the sickouts—staged during an impasse in negotiations—as an official job action, but said deputies probably were “frustrated” by the progress of contract talks.
The agreement governing pay expired in January, and the portion covering benefits and retirement expired last week.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company