Orange County suffered a blow in court when the local government found itself on the losing end of a battle with the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs in regards to staffing at county jailhouses. The court also upheld a ruling that bars the Sheriff’s Department from making any staffing changes for the time being. The dispute arose when the county began replacing deputies with civilian jailers in order to save millions of dollars. The county runs a Correctional Services Assistants program that trains civilians to handle such jobs with the goal of having jail staff eventually comprised of 35 percent of civilian Correctional Services Assistants. The Sheriff’s deputies union objected to the practice of replacing deputies by arguing it was a violation of “meet and confer” requirements of the union’s contract. The county brushed aside the contention by pointing to the economic benefits the local government had the right to pursue. However, the courts didn’t see it that way. The OC Register reports:
“Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino sided with the union and issued the temporary restraining order. The county appealed Makino’s ruling, claiming that the restraining order was improper because AOCDS wasn’t likely to prevail in its lawsuit against the county. Justice Richard Fybel of the Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, sided with the union in a 25-page opinion issued Wednesday. ‘The trial court did not abuse its discretion by concluding a preliminary injunction should be issued pending trial in this matter, after balancing the likelihood the Association would prevail on its claims and the relative harm the Association and defendants would suffer as a result of the issuance or non-issuance of the preliminary injunction,’ Fybel wrote.”
Now the county will have to pay the union’s legal fees. The civilian jail workers save the county money because they do not receive the same generous benefits and pension packages. You can read the full ruling here.