Thursday, October 9, 2003
Supervisors Declare Emergency, Urge Discipline for Sheriff’s Deputies Involved as Sickout Continues
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
After some 170 deputies called in sick yesterday amid a contract stalemate with the county, the Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency and said the sheriff can dock deputies for absenteeism.
Today’s deputy absenteeism snarled operations at seven sheriff’s stations and caused a brief delay in opening the Citrus courthouse in West Covina, officials said.
After emerging from closed session, the board voted to give Sheriff Lee Baca “the authority” to “dock people their pay if they’re engaging in unauthorized, illegal sickouts,” said Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
The deputies’ union has insisted it has not organized the sickouts.
A representative from the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, which represents rank-and-file deputies, declined to comment on today’s board action.
The board’s action follows two weeks during which scores of deputies called in sick on various days. Last week, an Orange County judge issued a temporary restraining order barring the sickouts. Yesterday, more than 200 deputies called in sick.
The board motion, proposed by Supervisor Gloria Molina, allows the sheriff to dock deputies if more than 20 percent of the employees working in a particular unit call in sick.
The motion goes into effect immediately. It also allows the sheriff’s department to “impose discipline” on deputies who engage in sickouts.
A sheriff’s spokesperson said 41 courtroom deputies called in sick yesterday, 17 of the at the Citrus facility.
The union and the county have been at an impasse in contract negotiations since earlier this year. Deputies are seeking a three percent raise over each of the three years, plus other improvements in benefits.
A hearing on the county’s request for a preliminary injunction is set for Tuesday in Santa Ana before Orange Superior Court Judge John Watson.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company