Probation officers in Ventura County California have rejected the latest union contract offer from the county prompting a non-partisan state fact-finder to review arguments from both sides and come up with suggestions that are nonbinding. County officials have called the offer its “last, best, and final” offer to the Ventura County Professional Peace Officers’ Association and the 300 or so probation and corrections officers it represents.
The previous contract expired in June of 2013 and both sides have been without one ever since. The State of California was made aware of the impasse during contract negotiations that took place on July 2nd of this year.
According to officials with the Association, upwards of 95 percent of the officers who voted on the contract offer rejected it. The County put out an offer of a 5 percent pay increase over the proposed three years of the contract which it says is pretty much the standard that is offered to sheriff’s deputies, nurses, and other county workers.
The Association, however, says that the jobs and responsibilities of probation and corrections officers have gone through such radical changes in the three years since Public Safety Realignment was passed by the state Legislature that officers deserve pay that is more in line with those responsibilities.
The Realignment caused a shift of more than half of Ventura County’s parolees into the Ventura County Probation Agency’s jurisdiction, while the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is responsible for those that remain. Before the realignment, however, all parolees were supervised by the state.
The Association argues that because of the shift, the job of the County’s probation and corrections officers has become much more dangerous since it is now responsible for dealing with more violent criminals. It also says that the average pay for Ventura County probation officers in the lowest of the eight counties in Southern California.