The Presidents of the four unions representing Court Clerks in the downstate region (SCCEA, COBANC, 9th JD, and NYS Court Clerks Association) met yesterday at Beaver Street with Chief Administrative Judge Larry Marks, OCA Executive Director Ron Younkins, and OCA Chief of Operations Barry Clarke to discuss the status of the Court Clerk Series Upgrades. We met for a little over an hour and a half discussing many of our concerns. We came away from the meeting with some positive news.
At the meeting Judge Marks reiterated to President Imandt, President Jackson, President Damato, and myself that there WILL be a clerk upgrade and that the Court Clerk Series WILL be the next title series to be upgraded. Judge Marks has also asked the four Presidents to meet with OCA's classification team as part of a think tank to offer ideas and suggestions of how to implement the statewide upgrade. It was stressed upon us that reallocation is not an issue that can be negotiated and that we should not misconstrue this invitation to participate in a think tank as an invitation to negotiate a reallocation. The ultimate decision whether to reallocate a title remains with Chief Administrative Judge Marks. The sole purpose of the think tank is to assist OCA in developing a reasonable and sensible upgrade. We will be meeting with Judge Marks, Ron Younkins, and Barry Clarke in the very near future to offer our input into fashioning a "commitment letter" that would be acceptable to the union.
The one negative that came out of yesterday's meeting was that OCA will not be able to implement any Court Clerk Series upgrade during the 2018-2019 fiscal year as a result of the $65 million dollar retroactive pay that they owe to the NYSCOA, SCOA, and the Clerk's union in 2018. Once those monies are paid to the members of those unions there will be no extra money to fund upgrades. Judge Marks did however say that since the $65 million dollars is a onetime payment, it will not affect the budget in future fiscal years. As a result, it is very plausible, barring any unforeseen shortfall in state revenue, that an upgrade could be funded in the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
For those who do not hold a title in the Court Clerk series, please be assured that we are not just focusing on the Court Clerk titles. Every title is being reviewed for an upgrade. Just recently, effective Feb. 22, our grade 8's were reallocated to grade 10. That reallocation represented an almost 11% increase to their annual salaries. Our mantra remains "No Title Left Behind".