LOS ANGELES (CN) – The Association of Deputy District Attorneys landed its first-ever labor contract with Los Angeles County on Thursday, which union President Hyatt Seligman said “legitimizes us as a union and puts us in a position of strength.” The union secured a protective injunction against the county in May, to protect its members’ right to “engage in union-related activities without being subjected to defendants’ policy of discrimination and intimidation.”
Seligman said the contract means a lot to the newly unionized prosecutors, most of all that they will have protection against arbitrary and capricious transfers, demotions and performance reviews from upper management.
They also will become salaried employees rather than hourly workers.
Until now, deputy attorneys had to dock their own pay if they needed time off to go to the doctor or tend to family issues, said Seligman, a 32-year prosecutor who has never been on a salary until now.
The contract also gives members the right to union representation on issues with upper management and the right to file class grievances.
The union began organizing in March 2008 but because they had no contracts, many deputy prosecutors were wary about joining, for fear of retaliation, Seligman said.
He said that most deputy DAs have not yet joined the union.
The union is affiliated with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, whose support has been critical in showing that the prosecutors are not just a bunch of “disgruntled employees,” Seligman said.
The contract did not secure raises, due to the state and county’s disastrous economic situation, but it did lock in existing pay and benefits, Seligman said.
Deputy district attorney’s have had tumultuous relations with District Attorney Steve Cooley. The need to unionize became impossible to ignore when upper management in Cooley’s administration received pay increases over a 10-year span but the prosecutors “got nothing,” Seligman said.
“The District Attorney’s Office and the union need a new relationship,” Seligman said.
“We have proven we are not going away and we are going to grow and protect our deputies, and the way to move forward it to secure a foundation, which is what we have done with this contract.”
Seligman said that much credit is due to the union’s former President Steve Ipsen, who, Seligman said, resigned to avoid giving Cooley a “scapegoat” for “all of the problems.” Seligman said, “Ipsen made a tremendous personal sacrifice for the good of the union.”