A group calling itself Peace Officers of California wants to create a 22nd bargining unit that would represent the 2,700 or so law enforcement officers currently in BU 7. Negotiators for the 7,000-member California Statewide Law Enforcement Association hammer out the BU 7 contracts.
POC makes the argument that sworn law enforcement officers need focused representation to get the best contract terms. A third of CSLEA members are peace officers, the rest, according to POC's press release, include milk inspectors, billboard inspectors, DMV drive test employees, lab technicians, smog-check employees and dispatchers.
We called CSLEA for a response. Manager and Chief Counsel Kasey Clark talked to us about the POC's severance move, noting that the sworn members of the union tried and failed years ago to split into their own bargaining unit. These Clark quotes sum up the association's position:
We oppose the severance. ... It's a little bit insulting if you look at the last contract. I'd be a lot more sympathetic if DPA was taking the position, "We're going give you a unit wide increase regardless of whether you're sworn. If you don't like it, too bad." But they didn't. DPA gave Fish & Game wardens, park rangers and special agents 25% pay increases. No one else in our bargaining unit got that. ... This is the politics of labor. This too will pass. These things just rear their heads from time to time.
POC has filed for certification with the Public Employment Relations Board. DPA and CSLEA both oppose the severance. We hear that hearings will run through the summer. Look for a ruling this fall.