On March 12, 2015, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) went before the Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 4 on State Administration & General Government to present its report on numerous issues surrounding the ABC agent vacancy rate and recruitment and retention.
"It was gratifying to hear that the committee members and the Department have a positive attitude about resolving the issues," said California Alcoholic Beverage Control Agents (CABCA) President Kevin Highbaugh. "There is no question the members of the committee care about ABC's mission and the agents who carry out that mission. CABCA and CSLEA will follow up on this report with CalHR as we are committed to improving salaries and closing the ABC agent vacancy rate."
Both Highbaugh and California Statewide Law Enforcement Association President Alan Barcelona attended the presentation of the report.
Among the items the Budget & Fiscal Review Subcommittee was presented with included:
- ABC has 145 authorized positions for sworn rank-and-file agents compared to the 165 authorized ten years ago.
- The Department is currently down 22 agents (positions that have not been filled).
- The Department revised the sworn agent minimum qualifications to expand the candidate pool.
- 56% of agents leaving ABC are going to other state agencies that offer either increased pay, or equal pay combined with better working conditions (ie; no nights, weekends, holidays or working in dangerous environments).
- In addition, over the past five years, ABC made 36 conditional offers of employment to candidates who chose to accept employment offers from other state agencies for the same reasons.
- 40% of ABC's agents have less than five years tenure with the Department.
"When you have 98,000 licensees in the State of California and only 123 ABC agents enforcing Alcoholic Beverage Control laws, there's an issue," said CSLEA President Alan Barcelona. "These agents are dealing with dangerous illegal activities involving drugs, alcohol, gangs, gambling, illegal weapons, organized crime and human trafficking. We need to beef up this force of law enforcement agents and pay the agents a salary that keeps them from being lured to other agencies that pay equal or higher salaries offering better work conditions or environments."