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The Signpost Newsletter
First Quarter 2018
OC Park Rangers Swap Unions
Now Aligned with Deputy Sheriffs
by Candi Hubert, Vice-President and Region 5 Director
Orange County Park Rangers are now officially in the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS). This is a big change and has been a long process. The Orange County Park Rangers had been in the Orange County Employees Association (OCEA), which represents approximately 18,000 Orange County workers and has been in existence since 1937. OCEA provided health and welfare benefits, MOU and negotiated on behalf of the employees. As of this month OC Park Rangers have started to switch their benefits over to AOCDS.
All sworn peace officers in the County of Orange are now represented by AOCDS. This includes OC Park Rangers, Coroners, Public Assistance Investigators and the Probation Department. This has increased the membership of AOCDS from about 2,000 to 3,000. So how did all of this come about and why the switch? The sheriffs union had been contacted for many years to take on these additional groups but it’s not an easy or quick process and can only be done during a certain time frame. This last year the Probation Department which has 800 members went to the AOCDS Board meeting to let them know they were ready and serious about changing unions and were prepared to do the work involved. The Sheriffs Union told them they could not request the change, Probation would have to do the administrative work to get the ball rolling which they did. Probation reached out to the other departments, OC Parks, Coroners and Public Assistance Investigators to request that all groups move over together.
I was initially contacted by another Park Ranger who had heard of the possible movement from OCEA to AOCDS. I attended three meetings; the first of which was held primarily by Probation to explain why they wanted to change and what they hope to attain. The main issues of all four groups were the need to be represented by sworn Peace Officers who understand the needs of our positions and what we do on the job. Everyone expressed that OCEA represents mostly administrative positions which are very different from our own. Many also expressed the need for commensurate pay and benefits that match the positions we hold that require enforcement, medical and fire response in addition to many other duties.
After the three meetings, OC Park Rangers voted as a group to join AOCDS by 88%. The Sheriffs union voted as a group to take all four groups by a vote of 90% which according to their spokesperson is unheard of. I don’t want anyone to think this was easy, there were many discussions by all groups and it took a few people to convince everyone that this was to the benefit of all four groups. OCEA also had meetings with all four groups and tried to convince us to stay with them. They focused mostly on the benefit of PORAC to us but could not give any details of a comparison of benefits.
We had meetings with AOCDS this month to explain how the process will work with switching the medical benefits over and they explained how their union works and the various ways their members contribute. They have a Political Action Committee (PAC) which they emphasized in their ability to provide the best benefits for their members.
Overall, this has been an interesting process to be part of and I’m hopeful it will work out the way all four departments intended.