Commissioners look at sergeants’ contract |

Commissioners look at sergeants’ contract

by Sheila Gardner

Commissioners will be asked Monday to approve a three-year agreement with the Douglas County sergeants’ bargaining unit which will cost the county $111,525 over the life of the contract.

That includes $78,705 for salaries and $32,819 for benefits for three years.

There are 14 members in the sheriff’s bargaining unit, and they have approved the contract which must go before the county.

“Each bargaining unit is different,” said undersheriff Paul Howell. “They come to the table with their goals and what’s important to them.”

Reflecting on the county’s financial difficulties, Howell said the new contract would restore a few benefits for the SBU.

“The county always looks at the ability to pay,” he said. “The SBU will not be losing any people. They gave up items like everyone else. By the time the contract ends in three years, they’ll be back where they were five years ago, except for merits. They won’t get that back.”

Howell said reaching a three-year agreement benefits both sides.

“It allows management to fix their labor costs for the next three years,” he said. “It allows employees to know what their pay and benefits will be. It gives stability to both sides.”

Howell said the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association and the county have moved to fact-finding in their efforts to reach agreement with the 70-member association that represents deputies.

Howell explained that fact-finding is a nonbinding process before an arbitrator which gives both sides a chance to present their issues.

“At the conclusion, the party which comes out the adverse side has a chance to reconsider,” Howell said.

As a result, all cuts from DCSPA’s previous contract have been restored which comes with a total $450,000 price tag.

The sheriff’s office eliminated five positions, two through layoffs and three positions which were left open.

By law, DCSPA, which includes sheriff’s deputies, reverts to salary and benefits provided in the fiscal year 2011 contract.

Howell said the sheriff’s office employs people in three employee associations as well as nonrepresented workers.

“All the bargaining units expressed at the table that their desire was to prevent layoffs,” Howell said.

“The employees I’ve talked to understand the differences. It’s like going into a restaurant, you order this, I order that. We’re not all going to get vanilla,” he said.

The SBU contract provides for no merit increases in fiscal years 2012-13, 2013-14, and a zero-4 percent merit for eligible employees in fiscal year 2014-15. There will be no increase in county contributions to heal insurance for the life of the contract, a 2 percent salary adjustment for fiscal year 2012-14, a 3 percent salary adjustment for fiscal year 2014-15, increases to maximum accrual of sick leave and compensatory time, and payout at termination.

Commissioners meet at 4 p.m. Monday in a special meeting at the Douglas County Administration building.

Other agenda items include discussion to add “chief executive officer” to the county manager’s formal title, and a presentation on the county’s website.