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Sheriff’s contract settled, but it comes with pluses and minuses

by WayneTimes.com
June 22, 2019

It sounded like a good idea at the time, many years ago. The Wayne County Sheriff’s office was losing deputies to adjoining and nearby police agencies offering higher wages. A recent trainee could earn as much as $10,000, or more by transferring to Monroe County agencies.

To stop the flow of new and older deputies, Wayne County, through contract negotiations, offered some wage incentives, coupled with a new 4/3 schedule. This offered deputies the opportunity of working 4 days with three days off.

The new incentive was an encouragement, but it led to an unforeseen major problem. In order to fill all the shifts required under the new scheduling, along with a shortage of deputies, road deputies built up a considerable amount of overtime.

The cost ran into the millions of dollars and became a major point in any new contract negotiations.

Complicating the contract that ran out in January 1, 2016, the Deputies ended their association with the union representing them. Two years passed where contract negotiations were in limbo. Finally, the officers joined with the Teamsters Local 118 Union and the real battle began.

Of course money was a main issue, but this too was clouded by an earlier provision in County contracts that incentivise employees for reaching certain employment dates with the County. The longer they worked for the County, their base pay increased by a certain percentage. After 5 years it was 1%, 10 years 3.5%, all the way up to 10% after 23 years. Contract negotiations became brutal as some took the battle to social media, turning on and making personal remarks Back in May, Wayne County, the Wayne County Sheriff, and Teamsters Local 118 concluded negotiations for a six-year collective bargaining agreement for the County’s deputy sheriffs bargaining unit covering the period of January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2021.

The Union members ratified the agreement on May 31. The County’s Board of Supervisors ratified the agreement and authorized the expenditure of the necessary funds at a meeting held on June 18. This is the first agreement with the Teamsters who replaced the prior collective bargaining agent in 2018.

The parties had been at an impasse in the negotiations and were proceeding to an interest arbitration hearing which will no longer be necessary in light of the agreement.

The agreement calls for a restructuring of the existing base wage schedule by the addition of a new top step along with some further flat dollar adjustments for the more senior members of the bargaining unit for purposes of encouraging the retention of the unit members. In addition, the across-theboard base wage increases will be 2.5% for 2016 and 2017, 1.5% for 2018 and 2019, and 3% for 2020 and 2021. There are no other monetary items being increased as a result of this agreement.

Of note, the agreement also provides for a new work schedule for those road patrol deputy sheriffs and sergeants who are hired after January 1, 2018. These personnel will work a traditional five day workweek with eight hour shifts. Road patrol personnel hired prior to January 1, 2018 will continue to have a right to remain on the current work schedule which provides for four ten-hour days, followed by three days off, each workweek. Sheriff Barry Virts believes that the new work schedule will result in lower overtime costs and shorten the duration of overtime assignments for many road patrol deputies in the interest of health and safety.

The County’s chief negotiator was attorney John Corcoran of the Hancock Estabrook, LLP law firm in Syracuse. The union’s chief negotiator was business agent Christopher Toole.

Wayne County Board of Supervisors Chairman Steven M. LeRoy commented: “I’m pleased that the County and the Union have successfully concluded the negotiations. The agreement is fair and reasonable and will insure the continued and uninterrupted criminal law enforcement protection for the citizens of Wayne County. I also wish to acknowledge and commend Board of Supervisors’ members Laurie Crane, Ken Miller, and Dave Spickerman, County Administrator Rick House, and County Human Resources Director Chris Kalinski, for their diligent and dedicated service on the County’s bargaining team.”

Wayne County Administrator, Rick House said some Board of Supervisor members were taken aback by the fact that the contract will cost the County well over a million dollars to be enacted, but stated that money has been set aside in the general fund for contract settlements.

“I think this was a fair settlement to account for and keep the Sheriff’s office competitive and will help in recruitment and retention. It also keeps taxpayers in mind, especially senior citizens, something we were cognizant about during the negotiations,” commented the County Administrator.

Unfortunately, due to the length and problems during the just signed contract, negotiations will have to begin, probably next year, for the current contract that ends 2021.

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