Monterey County challenges our right to binding arbitration
Member Wins Settlement, Back Wages
After a year-and-a-half-long battle with Monterey County over being wrongfully terminated from the Sheriff’s Office, a 521 member has won a favorable settlement, but an ongoing fight over binding arbitration is not over.
Evello Fernando worked as a Cook at the Monterey County Jail for 10 years, until a sheriff’s deputy made false allegations of misconduct against him. Sheriff Scott Miller concluded that Evello should be fired for, among other things, being rude to the deputy. Miller based his conclusions on hearsay statements of management personnel, and ignored Evello’s explanations at the Skelly hearing. An information request by SEIU also revealed the Sheriff’s Office lacked any written protocols to support the violations that Evello had allegedly committed.
Monterey County Denies Binding Arbitration
Our Contract Enforcement Department appealed Evello’s termination. As we began the process of selecting an arbitrator, Monterey County suddenly took a position that disciplinary arbitration is no longer final and binding. Therefore, according to county attorneys, if an arbitrator ordered the sheriff to reinstate Evello, the sheriff could simply ignore the order. The county took this position after having lost a number of disciplinary appeals in recent years.
521 Contract Enforcement Takes Action
We immediately filed an unfair practice charge with the State of California. Last December, the State issued a complaint against Monterey County alleging that our right to binding arbitration was unilaterally eliminated from our MOU.
Evello accepted a settlement that admits no fault by the County, but it restores the majority of wages he lost after he was terminated. Now Evello can retire comfortably with this dispute behind him.
“I’m very happy to have all this behind me. Thank you to my steward, Tammy Young. I could not have resolved this without my union. Having a union contract is a very powerful thing.”
— Evello Fernando
Due to overwhelming evidence that the county has not, until now, contested the final and binding effect of disciplinary arbitration, county attorneys have finally backed down from their position, and, on May 29, they informed us the County will sign a Settlement Agreement to avoid a hearing before the Public Employment Relations Board. Finally, after 12 months, we have won the fight to preserve what is arguably the most important part of our contract: binding arbitration.