Local labor union calls out Shasta County Superior Court

Feb 23, 2015 7:10 PM by Charlene Cheng

A secretive government entity, no public accountability, making decisions behind closed doors.

According to a local labor union, that's how the Shasta County Superior Court operates.

"Our problem and frustration with the court is that there's no way to discuss the policy issues of where court spends its money, whether it's for our negotiations, or court operational issues that affect the public in this community," says Steve Allen, a senior labor representative with UPEC Local 792.

Allen says the issues all started during an attempt to negotiate increased health insurance for the 116 employees that his union represents.

"General response is that we're broke, we can't afford to do it, we don't have enough money. But when you get an answer like that, then you get into, well how are you spending the money?" Allen says.

The union singles out Court Executive Officer Melissa Fowler-Bradley, saying judges have put her in charge of all financial decisions.

They're mad that the Burney branch of the court was closed, that court counters now close at two, and that 12 full-time employees were laid off, as others received a pay raise--choices that Fowler-Bradley says were an absolute necessity.

"Unfortunately, given the amount of money that we had and the staff that we had to pay, we had to make those tough decisions. We cut ongoing a million and a half per year so that's resulted in some drastic things happening," she says.

As for the union's call for public input, Fowler-Bradley says that her door is always open.

"I'm required by law to put our budget out for comment and I do that. We put it out there and accept comment before it's adopted. We're happy to hear any input anyone might have," she says.

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