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Court workers spared of furloughs

Ben Godar

Court officials have nixed plans to close the Burbank and Glendale

courthouses for as many as eight days in the next three months, a

move employees said would have been devastating.

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The Los Angeles Superior Court Executive Committee announced the

closure plan late last week, citing a need to reduce an $8.2-million

budget deficit. But late Monday, officials reached an agreement with

state court officials to provide an additional $4 million in

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appropriations. Court officials are looking to make up the rest of

the deficit by reducing spending in areas such as services and

supplies, and spokesman Allan Parachini said no furloughs will occur

in the remainder of the fiscal year.

The court employs 90 people at the Burbank and Glendale

courthouses, with 45 assigned to each building, officials said.

Those people serve as court clerks, assistants and attendants. The

Sheriff’s Department employs all security personnel, including

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bailiffs.

Yvonne Cooper, a court clerk at the Burbank courthouse, said while

she wouldn’t have been as devastated as some by the furlough, the cut

would have been substantial.

“I looked at it as one paycheck is for 10 days,” she said. “They

were going to take away eight days, so that’s like taking away almost

an entire paycheck.”

Cooper, like the majority of the employees at the Burbank and

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Glendale courthouses, is a member of the American Federation of

State, County and Municipal Employees. While union spokesman Damian

Tryon welcomed the cancellation of the furloughs, he said the recent

actions of the court were not done in good faith.

“It’s great they found a way to manage this that didn’t affect the

public or the employees,” he said.

However, for the judges to attempt to hold the court system

hostage was “unconscionable,” Tryon said.

The furloughs would not have affected judge’s salaries, because

they are paid from a different budget, officials said.

In part to prevent such surprises in the future, Tryon said AFSCME

officials are lobbying state officials to make meetings of the

court’s executive committee open to the public. He said it is unclear

if the public was even consulted about the furloughs before they were

announced.

While the courts will not close during the last three months of

this fiscal year, Tryon said the proposed action was just a prelude

to what will happen next year. Parachini declined to comment on

whether furloughs could be an option in the future.

“Next fiscal year is very fluid, very dangerous and very

unpredictable,” he said.


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