On September 28, 2023, UPE and Sacramento County representatives met and conferred over the revised class specifications for the Communications Operations Dispatcher (Comms Ops Dispatcher) I/II classes. The new class specs resulted from a class study conducted by D-Tech.
The study focused primarily on updating the minimum qualifications for the position. The Department claimed that during recent recruitment for the position, over 80% of applicants failed to meet the minimum qualifications (MQs) for the positions, which require radio and dispatch experience.
The newly proposed class specs would remove this requirement and substitute it with six months of customer service experience OR “completion of 15 semester (22.5 quarter) units from an accredited college or university in Communications, Business/Public Administration; or Other fields closely related to the intent of the class”. UPE objected strongly to the inclusion of the college credits and the exclusion of the radio and dispatch experience. No other dispatch position in Sacramento County includes college credits in their MQs. This includes Dispatchers at the airport and both 911 dispatch classifications at the Sheriff’s office. Furthermore, none of the dispatchers in eight surrounding counties have college experience in the MQs. Finally, Comms Ops Dispatchers currently qualify for the education incentive differential. This differential only applies to credits above those in the minimum qualifications.
If the new specs are enacted, Comms Ops Dispatchers currently receiving the differential could see a reduction of 2.5%.
This is an unacceptable outcome for UPE and its members. UPE made clear to the Department that this MQ needed to be removed.
Additionally, UPE advocated for the radio and dispatch experience to remain as a possible minimum qualification in place of the college credit. UPE argued that removing this qualification may discourage some applicants who have direct dispatch experience. While UPE recognizes the need to include customer service experience to expand the pool of applicants, UPE believes the Department should not lose sight of the fact this is a dispatch position and people with dispatch experience are good candidates.
The new specs also contained a few changes to the duties, experience, and ability to sections designed to update the specs to fit how the job is done today.
Most of these changes were minor or accurate job specs updates. However, UPE proposed changes to several additions to improve clarity and ensure the specs accurately capture the day-to-day of the job. In particular, UPE wanted it made clear in the class specs that Comms Ops Dispatchers are still dispatchers who use radios (even if they are controlled by computers) to dispatch County services.
The Department agreed to all of UPE’s wording changes at the table except for the proposed changes to the MQs. They said they needed to take that back to higher-ranking DPS and D-Tech officials.
UPE stated that if the changes were not agreed upon, the parties would need to continue meetings. UPE is prepared to take the matter to the Civil Service Commission, if necessary, to advocate for our members.
UPE would like to thank Jennifer Avalo, Monica Stephens, and Thomas Stelma for their participation in the meeting.