Adams ferrone & Ferrone has secured a contract for the Santa Barbara Deputy District Attorneys association (SBDDA) after winning in the fact finding hearing. At the beginning of 2014, the SBDDAs were attempting to negotiate a successor memorandum of understanding on their own. They quickly became frustrated with the tactics being employed by the County and sought the assistance of Stuart D. Adams, Esq. of AF&F.
Stuart Adams came in and laid out a strategy for a successful win. The SBDDAs were seeking parity with other County attorneys in other bargaining units. Using the fact finding process as an end game scenario, a series of proposals were prepared to ultimately position the SBDDAs to win in fact finding. This was done by gathering compensation data from the other bargaining units as well as conducting a salary survey with comparable agencies.
When the County refused to budge, the SBDDAs submitted a last, best and final offer that had been carefully researched by negotiating team member Lee Carter with direction from Adams. The County rejected the offer and the SBDDAs declared impasse and requested fact-finding.
The key component to their proposal for the SBDDAs were the following salary increases: (1) Effective January 5, 2015, salaries for employees represented by the Association will be increased by 3%; (2) Effective January 5, 2015, employees in Deputy District Attorney IV and Deputy District Attorney Senior job classifications shall receive a 2% increase in salary (3) Effective June 22, 2015, employees in Deputy District Attorney IV and Deputy District Attorney Senior job classifications shall receive a 2.5% increase in salary; (4) effective December 7, 2015, salaries for employees represented by the Association will be increased by 1%; and (5) Effective June 20, 2016, all employees in Deputy District Attorney IV and Deputy District Attorney Senior job classifications shall receive a 3.0% increase in salary.
Carter painstakingly compared each attorney in the County by name and pay to devise the foregoing pay structure that would make them all equal. The County refused, even at hearing in the fact finding, to acknowledge the accuracy of Carter’s numbers. Adams argued that the County’s position was wrong.
The County’s position was that the SBDDAs had received wage increases when the other attorneys had not. The County, however, presented charts that only showed increase by percentage values but they never presented actual dollar amounts. They admitted, they never even checked the actual dollar amounts. Adams also presented evidence that the CPI cost of living had increased by more than 7% which more than justified the SBDDAs proposal. Further both internal and external compensation surveys were introduced to support the SBDDA proposals.
The Fact finder sided with the SBBDAs and gave them a decision in their favor on the salary component. The County asked for a meeting and made an offer that was really no different than the pre-fact finding offer they had made. Armed with the win, the SBDDAs were able to confidently say no. Finally, the County gave in and agreed to the compensation awarded by the fact finder.
This case stands as proof that, even though the fact finding decision is advisory only, it can still significantly impact the end result. This is why it is very critical to get the strategy right before negotiations start so that the correct result can be achieved should fact finding become necessary.