When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Go Union

After 19 years of dedicated service as a Management Analyst, and three consecutive Annual Evaluations with an overall rating of “Outstanding”, I was given a Notice to Correct Deficiencies (NTCD), without any progressive discipline, by a newly-appointed Deputy Chief of the Port Police at the Harbor Department. He wrote me up for insubordination for copying one of the Administrative Assistants under my supervision in an email discussing one of her assignments.

In the email, I questioned why the assignment had been given to her and suggested that (as it was the recommendation of a new policy)  it be reassigned to me. When I responded to a follow up email where he commanded that I not discuss “such matters” with my staff, he wrote me up. As he had not supervised civilian administrative staff before, he took my questions about the assignment as an affront to his authority as a Commanding Officer. And, including my staff in these discussions made him look bad, in his mind.

While presenting me with the NTCD, he verbally attacked me, screaming at and physically intimidating me. I signed the NTCD just so I could get away from him. And, our Personnel Analyst, who was present at the meeting, assured me that he “had the full support” of our Chief of Police in what he was doing. A week later, I received a written mandate that I attend EAP counseling because “my behavior indicated that there was something emotionally wrong with me”.

I still don’t know what they thought the result of all this would be but, obviously, I knew I had to file a grievance and get out of that division.I contacted EAA for advice in filing a grievance, and was expertly and diligently represented by my EAA Labor Rep.

My Rep immediately communicated to the Harbor Department’s HR Unit that mandating that I seek counseling from EAP was illegal and an unfair labor practice.  Though we were not successful in getting the NTCD removed from my Personnel File, he negotiated a settlement mandating that it be sealed after one year, rather than the usual four.  And, partly thanks to the expertly handled grievance, I was able to transfer out of the division relatively quickly and am now happily working as a Procurement Analyst for an unfailingly kind and generous new supervisor.

Because this was so well handled, I am now, once again, a dues-paying member. Even the most excellent employees among us can be subjected to unfair treatment at any time.  None of us is immune.  Our dues go to pay for excellent representation and are worth every penny.  And, I will always be grateful for the expert assistance I received from EAA.

Jacquelyn L. Estrada
Management Analyst II

Port of Los Angeles

*Note from the Editor: Ms. Estrada pointed out to EAA that she has been reading the testimonies of EAA members stories posted on the EAA website and noted that it is unfortunate that supervisory and management training are not more readily available and utilized by the City’s supervisors.  She pointed out, as EAA has been expounding for the past several years, that if city mandated management training as vociferously, and as often, as they mandate workplace violence and sexual harassment training, the City would be a much better place to work.

For Your Information | The Labor Representative who has been assisting City of Los Angeles employee and EAA union member Jacob Brothers, Transportation Associate II (LADOT), is Darryl Cherness.

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