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News from AFSCME Local 685

Local 685 President & Probation Chief Field Meetings

 

Monday, February 1, 2024, 12:00 Noon

Rio Hondo Area Office (also includes East LA and San Gabriel Valley Area Offices)

8240 Broadway, Whittier, CA 90606


Note: The Chief will be unable to attend this meeting and has asked Meshal Kashifalghita "Cash" to speak in his place. The Chief plans to reschedule a meeting to speak at Rio Hondo in March (date/time TBA).

 

Monday, February 29, 2024, 10:00 AM

Pomona Valley Area Office and Riverview

1660 W. Mission Blvd., Pomona, CA 91731

 

Monday, March 14, 2024, 10:00 AM

Santa Monica Area Office

1725 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401

 

Local 685 Advocates for Juvenile Facility Funding

 

The Coalition of Probation Unions has sent the following letter to CA Governor Newsom (a similar letter has been sent to key members of the California Assembly and Senate):

 

We respectfully request your support got funding of $250 million per year, for the next four years, to pave the way for America’s largest probation department to provide care-first mental health, rehabilitation, and vocational programming to justice-involved youth and young adults – including those formerly housed by the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) – whom the courts have deemed a danger to society and thus not suitable for home detention. LA County’s juvenile probation facilities are antiquated, they remain on the watch list of the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC), and despite efforts to provide modifications to these outdated jail-like facilities they simply do not have the design or capacity to meet the growing population given the closure of DJJ. Critically, they do not meet the challenge that you have provided for juvenile justice reform.


In the 2023 Legislative session, the Assembly and Senate passed Assembly Bill 695 (Pacheco) on a bipartisan basis. AB 695, which was supported by LA County Supervisors Barger, Hahn, and Solis, AFSCME California, AFSCME District Council 36, the Coalition of County Unions, and the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, as well as bill sponsors AFSCME Local 685, AFSCME Local 1967, and SEIU Local 721, set in place the policy to transform the LA County juvenile probation system to be in alignment with your vision for San Quentin State Prison. You vetoed AB 695 due to the fact that it was a policy bill without specific appropriation. Nevertheless, AB 695 paved the way for America’s largest probation department to provide care-first mental health, rehabilitation, and vocational programming to justice-involved youth and young adults – including those formerly housed by the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) – whom the courts have deemed a danger to society and thus not suitable for home detention.


Background

On May 23, 2023, the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC) issued a “Notice of Unsuitability” to the County of Los Angeles requiring that all Probation wards be removed from Barry J. Nidorf and Central Juvenile Halls effective July 23, 2023. With a prolonged hiring freeze and more than 40 percent of staff out on industrial injury leave, the basis of the BSCC’s unsuitability determination is the persistent and unresolved lack of staffing, as well as decrepit and unsafe facilities.

 

The LA County Probation Department has now prepared Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall (LP), a 1950s era facility closed in 2018, for the Probation wards and pre-disposition minors have been moved to the facility. While this facility may provide a temporary solution to the State’s unsuitability determination with the other two juvenile halls, it does not solve the key issue of lack of staffing to provide the required rehabilitative services that our justice-involved youth deserve. Further, this does not resolve the fact that the County’s juvenile halls are neither secure nor care-first as required for the SYTF youth.


The BSCC’s action comes after decades of neglect by the LA County Board of Supervisors and their appointed executives who oversee the largest probation department in the nation, which is under the direct executive control of the Board of Supervisors. The Board has persistently failed to hire, properly train, and assure a safe environment for youth and staff. There are currently more than 1,000 vacancies in the LA County Probation Department due to the Supervisors’ hiring freeze.

 

Probation-Peace Officers assigned to the juvenile division are faced with daily youth-on-youth and youth-on-staff assaults, and more than 40 percent of staff in the juvenile division are now out on injury leave. To make up for the staffing shortfalls, staff have been compelled to work 18–24-hour shifts and now all sworn staff – even those who are charged with monitoring adult probationers in the community – are required to work one day a month in the juvenile halls. We are simply doing the best we can with limited resources and exhaustion.

 

Despite a consistent drumbeat of demands from the three unions representing sworn officers, supervisors, and managers in the Probation Department – and even a call in March 2023 from the largest of the three unions to have the Department of Justice assume immediate control of the department (the California Probation Officers Association of California (CPOC) also called for an immediate court receivership for LA County’s juvenile facilities in March) – the County has persistently failed to hire, properly train, and assure a safe environment for youth and staff. Further, despite cries from officers, stakeholders, and even the Grand Jury, the Board of Supervisors has failed to modernize the prison-like juvenile facilities.

 

In 2013, the Los Angeles County Grand Jury recommended “razing all buildings on the site and construct[ing] a modern facility,” noting that “Central Juvenile Hall is in severe disrepair. It is a financial drain on the maintenance budget of the Probation Department. Constant need for repairs of basic utilities and infrastructure is costly. Rather than keeping the site operational through on-going remedial repairs, the Probation Department would save money and better serve the minors with a modern facility… Replacing the facility (CJH) would alleviate safety issues caused by dilapidated buildings.”

 

In May 2023, a California court ruled in favor of CA Attorney General Bonta’s request for enforcement action against the County of Los Angeles to “remedy illegal and unsafe conditions” in the two juvenile halls. In a May 9 press release, Bonta stated, “The court found that Los Angeles County has not complied with judgment provisions related to timely and adequate medical care, adequate staffing, transportation to education, compensatory education, outdoor recreation, camera installation at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall, and creation of a positive behavior management plan.”


Prescription for Change

In March 2023, our three unions sponsored Assembly Bill 695 (Pacheco), known as the Juvenile Detention Facilities Improvement Grant Program. AB 695 aimed to address the concerns raised by Probation-Peace Officers regarding the need for rehabilitative programs and safer facilities for youth, officers, teachers, and service providers. The proposed legislation would have established the policy (pending funding) and provide oversight for state-of-the-art juvenile facilities in LA County that prioritize care-first treatment, therapeutics, and rehabilitation. Specifically, AB 695 would have put America’s largest probation department on the path of modernization with state-of-the-art, home-like facilities that promote care first treatment, therapeutics, and rehabilitation.

 

LA’s kids and the victims of their crimes deserve more. We must unite across aisles to prioritize the well-being of LA's youth to ensure their successful rehabilitation while protecting the victims of their crimes. Urgent action must be taken to establish modern and secure probation facilities operated by dedicated Probation-Peace Officers, supported by the rehabilitative services provided by LA County Mental Health and LA County Office of Education (LACOE) employees as well as community-based treatment providers.

 

It is imperative that we recognize the pressing need to create a safe environment where young individuals can fulfill court-mandated requirements, while simultaneously accessing the crucial rehabilitative programs necessary to positively transform their lives. Equally important is our commitment to safeguarding the victims affected by their offenses. Providing funding – and a solid policy to assure wise use of funds – coupled with an aggressive hiring plan to fill vacancies and backfill attrition, accomplishes these critical goals.

 

To address these challenges effectively, we must embrace the establishment of contemporary and secure facilities overseen by sworn Probation-Peace Officers. The members of our unions are not only extensively trained and subjected to comprehensive background checks; we possess the valuable experience needed to effectively triage and safeguard the entire range of teachers and service providers that play an integral role in supporting the youth. By entrusting this responsibility to sworn staff, we can ensure the highest level of security, supervision, and guidance throughout the rehabilitation process.

 

Investing in these modern and secure probation facilities, led by sworn Probation-Peace Officers proudly represented by AFSCME and SEIU, signifies an unwavering dedication to LA's children. It is a step towards creating an environment that empowers young individuals to reclaim their lives, while simultaneously addressing the needs of victims impacted by their actions.

 

Now is the time to act decisively and appropriate funding to build a brighter future for justice-involved youth. Now is the time to invest in LA’s justice-involved youth by fixing, at long last, America’s largest probation department. We respectfully request appropriation of $250 million per year for four years to fix – at long last – America’s largest juvenile probation program.

 

Investing in Your Health: The Importance of Regular Dental Check-ups

 

We often hear the saying, "Health is wealth," and it couldn't be truer. That’s why AFSCME Local 685, through the Coalition of County Unions (CCU), consistently negotiates a fair Choices contribution and strong benefits at the CCU table. Nevertheless, as we navigate through our busy work and home schedules, it's easy to overlook certain aspects of our well-being. Today, we'd like to shed light on a fundamental yet sometimes neglected aspect of health – oral hygiene.

 

The Link between Oral Health and Overall Well-being

Did you know that maintaining good oral health is not just about having a dazzling smile? It's a key player in your overall well-being. Regular dental check-ups are essential, and here's why:

  • Preventing Dental Issues: Routine dental visits help identify and address potential problems early on. Cavities, gum disease, and other oral issues can be nipped in the bud, preventing them from escalating into more significant concerns.

  • Oral Health and Systemic Health: Believe it or not, your oral health is interconnected with your overall health. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to various systemic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory issues. Taking care of your teeth isn't just a cosmetic choice; it's a crucial step in safeguarding your entire body.

  • Boosting Confidence and Productivity: A healthy smile not only contributes to physical well-being but also enhances mental health. Confidence in one's appearance can positively impact self-esteem, leading to increased focus and productivity at work.

  • Cost-Effective Prevention: Regular dental check-ups are an investment in preventive care. Addressing minor issues early on is far more cost-effective than dealing with major dental procedures down the line. By taking proactive steps, you're not only safeguarding your health but also your wallet.

 

A Surprising Reality: Less Than Half of Delta Dental Participants Are Getting Regular Cleanings!

Despite the fact that dental cleanings are covered under our Union-negotiated Delta Dental plan, recent data shows that less than half of Delta Dental participants are getting their teeth cleaned each year. This is a concerning trend that highlights the need for increased awareness about the importance of regular dental check-ups.

 

Encouraging a Culture of Wellness

We value the health and well-being of members and your families. In light of this concerning trend, we urge each one of you in Delta Dental to take advantage of the covered dental cleanings provided by our negotiated Delta Dental plan. Regular check-ups are crucial for your health and contribute to a healthier, happier workplace.

 

Take Action Today!

  • Schedule Your Dental Check-up: If it's been a while since your last dental visit, now is the perfect time to schedule one. Regular check-ups typically involve professional cleaning, examinations, and personalized advice on maintaining excellent oral hygiene.

  • Spread the Word: Encourage your co-workers to prioritize their oral health, especially considering the covered dental cleanings offered by the Delta Dental plan. A healthy workforce is a happy and productive one.

 

Remember, a healthy smile is not just a cosmetic asset; it's a reflection of your overall well-being. Let's take the initiative to invest in our health and create a workplace where every smile is a testament to a thriving and vibrant team.

 

Here's to a healthier, happier, and more productive Local 685 family!

 

A Message from the Election Committee


The results from the January 11, 2024, Runoff Election are as follows:

 

1st Vice President     

  • Eddie Chism:  224

  • Curtis Chambers:  234

  

Treasurer

  • Theodore Cha:  209

  • Xavier Simms:  247

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