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Thursday, March 17, 2016

S.F. Sheriffs Want to Be Paid to Get Dressed (Just Like Some Cops)

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 10:00 AM

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On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors quietly approved a $1.3 million settlement with supervisors in the Sheriff’s Department over an unfair labor practices complaint.

At issue for members of the San Francisco Sheriff’s Managers and Supervisors Association union — which includes sergeants, lieutenants, captains, and chief deputy sheriffs, collectively known as supervisors — was uncompensated time spent getting ready for their shifts every day.

This includes preparing for and holding meetings at the beginning and end of their shifts, along with changing into and out of their uniforms.

The latter issue, commonly called donning and doffing uniforms, has been challenged in courts in recent years as law enforcement officers nationwide have attempted to collect back pay for this function of the job — with sporadic success.

But, according to an attorney for the San Francisco supervisors, the local union put more focus on getting paid for this so-called “muster” time preparing for and attending meetings pre- and post-shift. And while the settlement covers back wages for a five-year period ending last year, the real fight for the union is ongoing as it attempts to make this pay permanent.

Philip C. Monrad, an attorney representing the supervisors, told SF Weekly the union and city are currently engaged in arbitration over the issue. The settlement covered pay from Oct. 9, 2010, to July 7, 2015, and the city admitted no liability in the matter just because it settled.

But the union wants to establish that this muster time — which is about 35 minutes per person daily, according to the union — is part of a regular workday and thus should be included in an eight-hour shift or be subject to the overtime rate of pay (1.5 times the regular scale). With some 100 members, it’s easy to see the city’s financial incentive in fighting this, but the union is confident it will prevail.

“It’s another in a long line of cases of this time spent for employers benefit,” Monrad said. “There are other decision out there saying it needs to be paid. You can’t make your employees work for free.”

San Francisco police officers have attempted to get paid for donning and doffing their uniforms. They lost a case in 2010 when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was not a requirement of the job since the Police Department gives officers the opportunity to do it at home.

Officers argued it’s preferable to change into and out of the uniforms at work, mostly for safety reasons, but they did not sway the court.

In 2012, however, the city settled for $90,000 a complaint brought by some officers over donning and doffing uniforms and other unpaid activities.
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