Santa Clara County Jail Shift Cuts OK

Santa ClaraCounty’s decision to reduce work hours for sheriff’s deputies at the county jail has been upheld by a state appeals court, rejecting the officer’s claim of bad faith negotiations.

The Sixth District Court of Appeal said Monday the county complied with its obligations under a 2008 Memorandum of Understanding with the Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association.

The county, facing a $230 million budget deficit in 2011, asked the corrections department to cut $15 million from the budget while avoiding staff layoffs.  It was found that modifying one of three staffing schedules to cut nearly six hours of biweekly overtime would save $5.9 million.

The corrections officials proposed a reduction in hours in one of three different work schedules for the jail guards.  It would cut a shift of 12.25 hours a day for four days in one week, followed by three days in the next, for a biweekly total of 85.75 hours. The time beyond 80 hours in two weeks would be paid as overtime.

It would cut the shift to mostly 12 hour shifts that would total 80 hours biweekly.

The association met with county officials to negotiate but never came to an agreement.

The modified plan was adopted in June 2011 as a means to avoid layoffs.

The association went to court to challenge the reduction saying it violated the 2008 MOU that created the various work shift plans and accused the county of negotiating in bad faith.

Following a court trial, the judge rejected the association’s claims finding that a vote of association members showed they preferred the county’s modified plan and that the county met in good faith, according to the opinion.

“The record establishes that there were three meetings at which the association was afforded an opportunity to discuss implementation,” said Justice Adrienne Grover.

“We reject the implication that the county’s action was taken in bad faith,” she said.

Grover was joined by Justices Conrad Rushing and Franklin Elia.

Case:  Santa Clara Co. Correctional Peace Officers Assoc, v. County of Santa Clara, No. H37418



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