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Labor Board Dismisses Prohibitive Practices Complaint Against LAPD

on September 27, 2017 - 10:20am

Sgt. Monica Salazar-Casias, president of the International Union of Police Associations, Local No. 14 and Vice President Cpl. Ben Irving chat prior to Monday's prohibited practices complaint hearing. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com

Los Alamos County Labor Management Relations Board members, from left, Eppie Trujillo, Felicia Orth and Trey Frazier discuss a prohibited practices complaint against the Los Alamos Police Department Monday at the Municipal Building. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com

 
By MAIRE O'NEILL
Los Alamos Daily Post

The Los Alamos County Labor Management Relations Board has dismissed a prohibited practices complaint against the Los Alamos County Police Department filed by the International Union of Police Associations Local No. 14.

Board members Felicia Orth, chairman and management representative, Eppie Trujillo, vice chairman and neutral representative and Trey Frazier, labor representative voted unanimously to dismiss the complaint following arguments by Assistant County Attorney Katie Thwaits and the Union’s attorney James Montalbano. Union President Sgt. Monica Salazar-Casias and Vice President Cpl. Ben Irving also were present.

The Union claimed it made a request for information necessary to the prosecution of two grievances filed on behalf of Salazar-Casias. The request was for the names of all employees disciplined for violation of certain policies within the past three years, dates and descriptions of each discipline and “the amount of violation that led to each discipline”. The Union asked that LAPD provide in each case a description of the original discipline and any changes in discipline as a result of the grievance procedure.

The three policies referred to by the Union are LAPD policies 1.41, 1.05 and 100.00. Policy No. 1.05 refers to reporting for duty and states that employees shall report for duty at the time and place required by assignment or orders and shall be physically and mentally fit to perform their duties. It requires that employees shall be equipped and cognizant of information required for the proper performance of duty so that they may immediately assume their duties. The policy also states that judicial and administrative subpoenas shall constitute an order to report for duty.

The second policy listed, No. 1.41, pertains to employees not interfering with cases being handled by other LAPD officers or other governmental agencies and the exceptions to that policy. It also states that officers shall not undertake any investigation or other official action not part of their regular duties without permission from their superior officer unless the exigency of the situation requires immediate police action.

The third policy, 100.00, covers the oath of office, the code of ethics, the Department’s mission, vision and core beliefs.

The Union maintains it also requested Salazar-Casias’ personnel file and all communications surrounding the events that led to her discipline. The complaint alleges that Deputy Chief Jason Wardlow Herrera rejected the request within two hours stating that the information requested was confidential. It states that in July, counsel for the County agreed to release some of the requested information under a confidentiality agreement but only as to infractions that occurred since Jan. 27, 2016, when the contract with the Union was signed.

The complaint states that one allegation in the grievance involves “disparate treatment” of Salazar-Casias because of her activities as Union president and otherwise exercising her rights under the Labor Management Relations Ordinance (LMRO) to engage in collective action and enforcing the collective bargaining agreement between the County and the Union.

The complaint alleges that the County failed to state any adequate basis for the refusal to provide the information requested by the Union and that it is “black-letter labor law that a union may request information that is relevant and necessary to the processing of a grievance. It maintains that the refusal to provide the information prevents the Union from prosecuting the grievances of Salazar-Casias, “furthering the County’s discrimination against her actions as Union president”.

The County’s response says that the prohibited practices complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. It maintains the Board lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear and decide the allegations made by the Union.

Attachments to the County’s response include a memo from Irving to Wardlow Herrera that asks for the discipline records but also for all email exchanges and chains between Chief Dino Sgambellone, Wardlow Herrera, Cmdr. Preston Ballew, Cmdr. Oliver Morris and Terran Robertson of Los Alamos National Laboratory pertaining to the investigation and discipline of Salazar-Casias between April and June.

Another attachment is a letter from Thwaits to Montalbano pointing out that the collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the County addresses the confidentiality of employee personnel files and that the handling of personnel files has already been bargained with the Union. In the letter, she said the County will not release any information on the discipline of employees for violation of certain policies without a confidentiality agreement. As for the emails requested by the Union, Thwaits said they are properly withheld because they are documents that were created for the purpose of conducting internal disciplinary proceedings.

The County’s motion to dismiss the complaint also reflects that Salazar-Casias was indeed given a copy of her personnel file and allowed to review it in person to compare it to the copies. It also indicates that a police officer was individually approached by the Union and asked to release details of any discipline he had received which he did not wish to do and that this caused the County to withdraw its offer to release names of employees under a confidentiality agreement.

On Friday, a decision issued by the County denied the Union’s grievances and the discipline was removed from Salazar-Casias’ personnel file as requested by the Union.

Board members asked several questions of both attorneys before going into a short closed session to deliberate before announcing its ruling.

 

Los Alamos County Human Resources Manager Denise Cassel talks to Union attorney James Montalbano after Monday's hearing. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com


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