Ron Teats is back at work for the County of Monterey after nearly losing his job to what would have been a wrongful termination. Ron has worked for the County’s 911 center for 26 years; during this time, he served as a trainer and a supervisor and is regarded as one of the County’s most experienced dispatchers.
Last year, Ron’s managers began scrutinizing his work, more so than any other employee’s work. Because none of the allegations they concocted warranted termination, his Steward and our Union Contract Enforcement Department (CED) were prepared to take Ron’s case to arbitration. We ultimately reached a settlement with the County that ensures Ron stays on the job serving the residents of Monterey County.
Shortly after Ron returned to work, we filed misconduct allegations against the managers who tried firing him. We sent evidence to the 911 Director that, on two separate occasions, Managers Leslie Ragghianti and Jennifer Cupak engaged in conduct that violated the County’s Workplace Violence Policy. We also filed an Unfair Practice Charge against Ragghianti for unilaterally imposing new work rules that she used as a basis to attempt firing Ron.
Despite repeatedly asking the County’s Human Resources to investigate our claims, we’ve seen no indication that the County is taking these matters seriously.
In the meantime, the 911 Department is being driven into the ground as employees continue leaving in droves. Unbelievably, the dispatcher turnover rate in FY 2017-18 was 90% for new hires. The department is also losing experienced dispatchers to other agencies where working conditions are better. 14 Communications Dispatcher IIs have resigned in the last 3 years, with turnover reaching as high as 12.2% in FY 2016-17, in part due to the poor treatment employees are subjected to.
Rather than take steps to fix our broken Emergency Communications system, county leaders have turned their backs on the problem. By refusing to investigate the Department’s mistreatment of employees, they are shielding their managers from any accountability.
We cannot sit idly by and wait for county leaders to fix our retention problem. Ron is circulating a petition among dispatchers so that he can become a union steward. After this experience, he wants to learn about his rights, educate his co-workers, and be part of the solution to improving our working conditions.
By being united in our union, we have a voice. The first step to being heard is to sign up for union membership. If you’re interested in becoming a steward at your worksite, contact your union organizer.