As we mentioned last week, the Ohio Attorney General announced the reorganization and abolishment of positions at the Ohio Police Officer Training Academy (OPOTA). Ten of these positions are OCSEA members. The layoff is scheduled for June 12, 2020.
The union has been working diligently with AG management to find vacancies for ALL of our impacted AG union members and is confident that this will be done. In addition, OCSEA Chapter 2580, a local chapter that represents several of the affected members, has filed a grievance against the layoff. The grievance will be scheduled to be heard at the end of this month.
AG’s Office to privatize law enforcement training academy
Friday, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office unceremoniously informed OCSEA of layoffs at the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA). The AG’s office tried to use the Friday before a holiday to deaden the impact of the elimination of more than 40 jobs at the academy that trains law enforcement professionals from around the state. Ten of the positions are from OCSEA’s bargaining unit, including 7 Clerks and 3 Administrative Professionals, 31 are Law Enforcement Training Officers who are members of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and 3 are managers/supervisors.
OPOTA provides mandatory continuing education classes as well as advanced trainings
for peace officers in Ohio.
The agency says falling casino revenues due to the COVID crisis is to blame, in part. But the union says the agency has never increased its tuition fees as other schools and universities have that offer similar courses. Ultimately, the union sees the layoff as a privatization move since, according to the AG’s layoff rationale, the school will continue to offer classes as they have been using “guest instructors” to teach at OPOTA, regional partner facilities and online.
To add insult to injury, some staff were told on a group call that they would be losing their job and that a letter would be sent out shortly. At least one union member, who worked on site, was immediately escorted out the door after the announcement.
Also raising alarms in the layoff rationale is the mention of further “restructuring” at OPOTA, which could signal other changes or cuts.
OCSEA will immediately be filing a grievance on the layoff. Further, the OCSEA contract with the AG’s Office requires the agency to sit down and discuss the layoff and requires them to notify anyone who could be impacted by the layoff, including those who could be affected in any bumping process.
“This was our fear, that states and local governments would use this crisis to further decimate public services,” said OCSEA Pres. Chris Mabe. “This is not the time to be cutting. This is the time to double down. This is the time that everyone is realizing the importance of front line employees, including law enforcement agencies and their resources, like OPOTA. To privatize this resource is beyond ridiculous,” he said.