Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca threatened to to suspend deputies absent without proof of illness after 245 more called in sick despite a court order against the “blue flu.” The Los Angeles Times said Baca called the wildcat strike “a blatantly illegal act,” adding, “Deputies should not fool around with the law. When your job is to enforce the law, you cannot be breaking the law.”
About 15 percent of deputies called in ill on yesterday’s day shift. Two courthouses were closed in Pomona, Ca. The disruptions had largely been confined to jail operations, but patrols were curtailed yesterday when 199 deputies did not report to work in eight locations.
Last week, a judge ordered the deputy sheriffs union and individual deputies to halt wildcat sickouts that had created havoc in courts and jails. The union and the county have been at an impasse in contract negotiations; deputies want a 3 percent raise in each of the next three years.
County attorneys cited a 1989 appellate court opinion that declared work stoppages by law enforcement illegal because they pose a risk to public safety. Baca said that about 80 percent of his 7,000 deputies have been served with notice, a prerequisite for a contempt citation. Baca said he understands why deputies are angry, but said the county cannot afford the raises being sought.
“There is no money, no matter how you cut it,” he told the Times.