Before the Mendocino County Probation Teamster bargaining team went into negotiations, they had a goal in mind: align their pay and benefits with that of the rest of law enforcement in the area.
“We’re supervising people coming out of local prison and high-risk probationers,” said Brandy Noriega, a member of the negotiations team. “In general, the role of probation officers has gotten more dangerous dealing with high-risk individuals.”
After a few months of negotiations and two meetings with the county, Brandy and the rest of the team were successful in their goal.
They secured a three-percent wage increase, a one-time payment, and their insurance costs will not increase. In addition, they were able to add several incentives on par with those of other county law enforcement.
“We’re proud of the upgrades and the additions in salary and benefits,” said Teamsters 856 staff attorney representative, Matthew Finnegan, who led negotiations. “I think this is also a very good contract for us and a fair contract because we’re starting to see some parity between us and the other law enforcement in the county.”
In this latest contract, qualifying members have access to longevity pay at 5, 10, and 15 years; special assignment premiums, and education incentive pay. “For us it’s a big deal because we’re being recognized as law enforcement pay wise,” explained Brandy. “It’s something we hope to add on to in the future.”
Juvenile corrections officer, Jeff McKee, is also an OC Pepper Spray trainer. He is now among the members who will receive a special premium for his additional assignment. “More pay gives everybody a better attitude and we can keep staff longer,” he said. “We won’t lose staff to other counties that pay more.”
“I’m excited to be able to concentrate more on longevity — keeping membership around rather than having the turnovers that we’ve had,” agreed Ryan Breece, a juvenile corrections officer and shop steward. “These new incentives will hopefully keep people interested in staying in our membership rather than seeing this as a training post and then moving on.”
According to Jeff, the contract is the best he’s seen in his 11 years with Mendocino County Probation — a feat Brandy credits to their strength as a team and a unit. “We went into negotiations united and clear on why we needed what we needed, and we were much stronger as a whole,” she said.