SFDSA Files Lawsuit Against SF Sheriff

At some time prior to July 8, 2022, the City and County of San Francisco Sheriff’s Office decided to create a pilot program in County Jail #3 (“CJ3”) in housing unit 5. The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office had two employees evaluate the functionality of the program and identify any concerns they saw with the changes proposed by the Sheriff’s Office. These deputies found numerous safety concerns that made it difficult to perform the regular safety checks of the inmates in some cases and completely impossible in other cases.

Despite the safety concerns, on July 8, 2022, the changes were implemented.

CJ3 has multiple housing units that are the shape of a circle with inmate cells on the perimeter of the circle. This circle is divided into to sides, the A and B sides. Inmates from A cannot cross over to B and vice versa. On one side of the dividing line is a “Crow’s Nest” or a tower with windows that can look out over portions of both the A and B sides of the housing unit. This Crow’s Nest has previously not been used.

Prior to July 8, 2022, CJ 3 has always had 2 deputies working a general population housing unit. One each on the A and B sides. These deputies worked on the floor with the inmates.

Safety Checks are required to be done every hour. There are state laws, known as Title 15 rules, as well as a San Francisco Sheriff’s Office policy, CODM 4.04, which outline the minimum requirements for these safety checks. The purpose of the checks is to maintain safety and security in the jail for staff, visitors and the inmates. Some of the requirements of these checks include noting the skin color of the inmate, the rise and fall of the chest, movement that indicates life, looking for any signs of illness or distress, inspection of cell doors and windows and a search for any apparent contraband or hazards.

These safety checks were completed by the deputies working on the floor but walking up to each inmate cell door and observing the inmate, the cell and surrounding area. Sometimes, at night, a flashlight would be required to properly check the welfare of the inmates.

On July 8, 2022, this changed. No longer would there be any floor deputies. Now, only one deputy, instead of two, would monitor all the inmates by him/herself, from the Crow’s Nest. In the event of an emergency, the deputy in the Crow’s Nest was not to leave and assist an inmate having a medical emergency, being attacked, or attempting to harm himself, instead, the deputy is now required to call for help. Deputies who are roaming around the rest of the jail would then have to respond and handle the situation, wasting valuable time.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office was unable to remedy all the safety concerns raised by the two employees who evaluated the new Crow’s Nest plan. The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office administration directed Crow’s Nest deputies to utilize binoculars to assist them in seeing the inmates better. While this may help with viewing some of the inmates when the lights are on, they do little to help at night and cannot solve the problem of the inability to see some of the cells at all, with or without binoculars.

The DSA sent a letter to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office on July 18, 2022 and it was resent to the Director of Employee Relations, on July 22, 2022. This letter demanded that the new Crow’s Nest practice stop until the parties can meet and confer over the impacts and effects of it. Numerous impacts and effects were listed in this notice.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office responded on July 26, 2022, refusing to maintain the status quo until the parties were able to meet and confer.

Within days of its implementation, a fight broke out in one of the cells in the evening and it was not discovered until the next morning. This is evidence of the lack of safety the DSA was concerned with when it demanded the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office cease and desist its new Crow’s Nest practice.

March 28, 2022 RFI.

On March 28, 2022, the DSA requested information necessary and relevant to ascertain the dates, times, and shifts that the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office fell below the minimum staffing required by the MOU. (Exhibit X) Arbitrator Alexander Cohen previously resolved a grievance filed by DSA when the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office previously violated the Minimum Staffing section of the MOU. Arbitrator Cohen issued his ruling in favor of the DSA in 2017 in favor of the DSA. In his decision, he awarded damages to be paid to those members who worked on shifts that were below the minimum staffing required by the MOU. Because the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office continued to fall below the minimum staffing, the DSA filed a new grievance on March 4, 2022. The RFI filed on March 28, 2022 was to gather necessary and relevant information to calculate the damages incurred by the DSA members as the result of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office’s current grievance for again violating the MOU. (Lomba Decl. ¶ 9)

The March 28, 2022 RFI was acknowledged received by the City Attorney’s office and forwarded to the Employee Relations Division (ERD) to respond. No response from ERD was ever received. (Howell Decl. ¶ 6 and 9; Exhibit 3) On May 2, 2022, the DSA followed up with ERD and the City Attorney’s office and demanded production of the RFI by May 9, 2022, which never came. (Howell Decl. ¶ 10 and 11; Exhibit 5)

On May 13, 2022, the DSA filed a First Amended Unfair Labor Practice Charge in PERB Case No. SF-CE-1794-M to have this matter added to that current litigation. On June 7, 2022, after filing the amendment to the PERB Charge, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office produced documents responsive to the March 28, 2022 RFI. Judge Cloughesy declined to amend the Charge and Complaint in that matter to include this RFI issue but gave leave to refile this matter with PERB.

February 16, 2022 RFI.

On February 16, 2022, the DSA requested information necessary and relevant to ascertain the names, dates, and hours of Overtime Pay DSA members were denied. Information was also requested to ascertain the history, deliberation, changes, analysis and communications regarding Administrative Code section 18.13 involving the maximum permissible overtime. This information is necessary for the DSA to enforce the contract at a grievance proceeding and is unable to establish the damages or the individual DSA members affected, without the response to the RFI.

The February 16, 2022 RFI was acknowledge received by the City Attorney’s Office on February 22, 2022, via email. (EXHIBIT XX – email from KNS to Rapoport and back) Having received no responsive documents, the DSA’s counsel sent an email on August 2, 2022 to demand production. (Exhibit XX – Email KNS to)

 


 Contact:

Ken Lomba
SFDSA President
415-696-2428
San Francisco, CA

Forced Overtime at San Francisco Sheriff’s Office

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office has a history of conducting salary savings.  Salary savings is a scheme to reduce hiring and offer overtime to existing employees.  In small cases it may be okay since the department can offer overtime to volunteers but over the years the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office has taken it to an extreme ordering our deputy sheriff members mandated overtime involuntarily.

For the purposes of this article, “salary savings” will be defined as the practice of keeping open positions unfilled so as to reduce budgetary outlays. In the practice, current employees are asked and often mandated to work overtime hours to cover the gaps created by non-hiring. As numerous articles and internal documents will show, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office has engaged in salary savings for at least the last decade. While this has resulted in higher wages due to overtime payments, it has more significantly resulted in force attrition and individual exhaustion. This practice is not sustainable.

The San Francisco Sheriff’s Office has at times requested and at times mandated that its deputies work excessive hours of overtime to cover staffing shortages. As the Controller’s Annual Overtime Report (FY 2017-18) states, “[t]he distribution of overtime in the Department is highly skewed.” It has rewarded some, those willing to work extravagant amounts of time, with salaries far exceeding their base and it has also hastened the retirement of those who value their days off and their health. Meanwhile, until very recently, the Department has not incurred new pensions or benefit costs and has not had to train new employees sufficient to fill its roster. As numerous documents have shown, by encouraging and demanding overtime and by failing to hire new deputies, the Department has engaged in salary savings for at least the last decade.

Fast forward to present time, the Sheriff’s Office has gone further with this practice and implemented more salary savings.  As of a January 2021, the Sheriff’s Office had approx. 203 vacant full time employee openings.  It most likely is even higher now.  The Sheriff Office now mandates more overtime and blocks volunteers, in most cases, from working overtime forcing more deputy sheriffs to work involuntarily and in most cases forced to work with last minute notice.  You can only imagine how disruptive this is to the deputy sheriffs’ lives and health.

SF Deputy SheriffIn February 2021, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office prepared their budget request, within that request they only asked for funding for 44 deputy sheriff positions.  This number is extremely low with deputies retiring and leaving to other agencies as well as the existing approx. -203 full time employee vacancies.

In August 2020 the San Francisco Chronicle reported that 19 out of 20 of the City’s Top Biggest Overtime Earners were deputy sheriffs.  That brought a lot of attention to the Sheriff’s Office and could expose the salary savings scheme to the voters.  So what they did next should shock you!  Instead of hiring more deputies to reduce the overtime, they are now forcing more deputies to work overtime.  They are restricting volunteers and forcing more involuntarily.  Is this a San Francisco value?

The staffing shortage not only effects the safety of employees and public but it also affects the currently incarcerated people.  Lawsuits are mounting for not allowing the currently incarcerated to have exercise time, walk time, sunshine time and now law suits over sleep deprivation.  The next lawsuit will most likely be a federal class action lawsuit over the lack of staff and conditions in the jail for violating the rights of the currently incarcerated.

While businesses continue to struggle and unemployment exceeds six percent the City gained a budget surplus of $125 Million this fiscal year 2020-2021.  So it makes you wonder why the Sheriff’s Office is so timid with it’s budget requests with such a staffing deficit.  

Download our white paper on San Francisco Sheriff’s Office Salary Savings.

San Francisco Deputy Sheriff catches Robbery Suspects

On the morning of January 5, 2016, San Francisco Deputy Sheriff D. Perez, while off duty and walking his dog, observed two men behaving erratically and shadowing a younger man, possibly with the intention of robbing him.

PerezDeputy Perez immediately texted a friend at the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management dispatch center and learned that two men matching their description were being sought by the San Francisco Police Department.

Deputy Perez provided the SFPD with the suspects’ location. Once the suspects were detained, officers informed Deputy Sheriff Perez that the men were also suspects in other robberies and attempted robberies in the area.

“In this situation Deputy Perez used his law enforcement experience while off duty to recognize potential criminal activity,” said Sgt. M. Kilgariff of San Francisco Sheriff”s Department Civil Section. “We are proud of his quick thinking and his resourcefulness in identifying the two suspects.”