To those of you who miss these email updates, please accept my apologies for the recent silence. There really hasn’t been much news to report since our membership meeting, and in all honesty I needed a short break. But now that the rumor mill is cranking at full speed, and we are rapidly approaching the new fiscal year, I do have a few things to share with you.
Quelling the Rumors
First, please keep in mind that I am choosing my words with care and deliberation, so, as our dear friend Oscar liked to say, put your lawyer hat on while reading what follows:
The rumors that you are hearing do have some basis in fact, but the email from EAA that many of you have forwarded to me (thank you) was sent prematurely. While I can’t share any details of what may be in the works, there is a chance that furloughs will be postponed at the start of the new fiscal year. If you have read the latest reporting on proposed adjustments to the LAPD budget, new instructions from the Budget and Finance Committee may also ease some of the budget pressure that was driving the urgent call for furloughs. However, until the entire Council takes formal action on anything, no one can say definitively what will happen when the first pay period of the new fiscal year begins on July 6.
There are five council meetings remaining in this fiscal year, so the timing will be tight but it’s certainly doable.
I can only say for sure that there is not another ERIP in our future, and there is no “early retirement” proposal on the table. Whatever Council adopts, if anything, would not cost any employee one penny and, unlike ERIP, would not include unearned service credit in order to retire otherwise ineligible employees. You have my word that LACAA would not and will not approve anything that imposes additional costs on our members.
Any Council action on a retirement incentive program would presumably be adopted in conjunction with a postponement of currently proposed furloughs and would not single out members of any particular bargaining unit or union. This doesn’t mean that furloughs would be off the table, and it certainly doesn’t mean that LACAA has softened its stance towards furloughs if the City ultimately elects to impose them. All it means is that Council has heard the concerns we and others in the labor family have shared and that, for now, we might be starting the fiscal year with full paychecks.
The last thing our LACAA board wants to do is make unfounded promises, provide false hope, or create more confusion. But we also recognize that, especially in times of uncertainty, people fill the silences with whatever seems reasonable or provides the most grounds for optimism (or pessimism, depending on your disposition). I wish I could say more at this time, but I can’t – so I only ask that you hold tight, focus on things you can control, and trust that in another week or so we’ll know for sure what the start of the fiscal year will have in store for us.
Keep your fingers crossed that Council does the right thing and we can end this fiscal year with a little good news. I know we could all use it!
Returning to Work
I am hearing continued concerns over workplace safety and returning to work. As you read in Leela’s recent email, we are operating under the status quo at least until August. Some of you have already resumed working in court, and I know the volume of criminal cases will be increasing soon. Keep in mind that workplace safety is an employer’s responsibility, and it’s not your job to be a “Covid Cop.” Please try to avoid confrontations if you happen to be in court or the office and observe non-compliance with rules about social distancing and/or face coverings. If you feel unsafe at any worksite, please email your supervisor and copy me. I know the office is in the process of procuring signs from GSD and implementing other measures recommended by the City’s Personnel and Uniform Workplace Safety Protocols Committee. For your reference, I’m attaching the guidance this committee issued at the start of the month.
We will also begin negotiations soon to discuss a long-term telecommuting program for the office, as provided in a letter of agreement attached to our new MOU.
Professional Development Allowance Deadline & Federal Court Fees
The deadline for spending your $625 professional development allowance (PDA) is fast approaching. You have until June 30 to spend it, but you can submit your reimbursement request after that date. If you bought a subscription for “mcle in a box,” make sure you take at least one hour of programming before the end of the fiscal year, or the office may not approve your reimbursement. If you didn’t join LACBA or a state bar specialty group before June 1, you can still use your allowance for membership fees, but it will come out of your $625 as opposed to the separate reimbursement allowance for these memberships.
I have heard that there may be new fees for Federal Court appearances. Fear not, our MOU already requires the Office to reimburse you for those expenses, separately from the PDA.
All of the information about the PDA, court fees and other Bar dues can be found in Article 31 of the MOU.
Hope you’re all staying safe and healthy and finding things to keep your kids from climbing the walls. Happy Summer!
P.S. For those of you who are wondering, my wife finally went to see her stylist last week, so I’m hanging up my rubber gloves and color brushes for the time being. Please keep practicing social distancing and wear your face covering, or I’ll be pressed back into service…