In April 2011, detectives with the Department of Insurance (“DOI”) requested to be reimbursed for purchasing their own soft body armor as set forth in Article 13.1.C of Bargaining Unit 7 Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”). CSLEA’s contract provides “that employees who upgrade their soft body armor by purchasing their own soft body armor will be reimbursed in an amount equal to the cost of the state provided armor, with a receipt and consistent with the Department's replacement schedules.” CSLEA contacted DOI to determine whether it had a procedure in place for detectives to be reimbursed should the detectives elect to purchase their own soft body armor consistent with Article 13.1.C. DOI told CSLEA that they were denying the requests based on information provided by Department of General Services (“DGS”) that the contract provision violated the penal code. CSLEA disagreed and immediately filed a grievance on behalf of the detectives.
Prior to hearing, CSLEA met with CalHR to discuss the DGS’s position and alleged conflict between the contract and penal code. Through CSLEA’s advocacy, we were able to get DGS to reconcile the apparent conflict and settle the grievance before arbitration. The settlement reaffirmed that Article 13.1.C was not permissive, investigators had the right to purchase their own soft body armor and investigators are entitled to reimbursement so long as it was in concert with the Department’s replacement schedules.
The settlement represents a victory for CSLEA peace officers by clarifying the process for reimbursement for employees who purchase their own soft body armor. The parties agreed to amended the language of Article 13.1.C to state: "State also agrees that employees may upgrade their soft body armor by purchasing their own soft body armor, provided it is consistent with the department's and State's specifications. These employees will be reimbursed in an amount equal to the cost of the state provided armor, with a receipt and consistent with the department's and State's replacement schedules."
The parties also agreed that all Unit 7 Departments must comply with following terms:
- CSLEA represented employees are not required to seek approval, written or otherwise, from their department in order to purchase their own soft body armor.
- Employee purchases of soft body armor pursuant to Article 13.1.C may only occur during initial assignment, or pursuant to a department’s replacement schedule.
- Employees who purchase their own soft body armor pursuant to Article 13.1.C are responsible for doing so on their own time.
- All soft body armor purchased by employees pursuant to Article 13.1.C shall be considered the property of the employee.
- The Parties agree that the term “department’s specifications” includes, but is not limited to, the type of soft body armor, e.g. ballistic, stab-proof, hybrid, as well as its warranty or expiration date, and the like.
- The Parties agree that the term “State’s specifications” includes, but is not limited to, the National Institute of Justice’s soft body armor standards in addition to additional State specifications. The Parties acknowledge that these are the current soft body armor specifications and that they are subject to change.