Wednesday, January 16 2013, 02:14 AM CST
Jackson County in arbitration with Sheriff's employees
By Jessica De Nova/KTVL.com
JACKSON COUNTY, Ore.-Jackson County Sheriff's Employees' Association (JCSEA) is in arbitration with the county to establish a contract for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
The association said its issues negotiating a contract with Jackson County began when the county tried to break up the association.
Association president, Ben Fazio, said Jackson County argued that by asking support staff to join the association when employed with the Sheriff's Office, personnel are forced to give up their right to strike.
The county took the matter to court, asking for the creation of a separate association for Sheriff's Office support staff, in which they would be allowed to strike.
The judge in the case ruled the association be maintained, as is.
Fazio believes the county may appeal the judge's decision and said there's a reason it is trying to split up the association.
"You have strength in numbers and strength in an even playing field. The more that that's broken up, the less influence you have on affecting any kind of positive change for your members," said Fazio.
It has been about a year a half now since the county and JCSEA started negotiations for a new contract. Association members have been working under their old agreement, in the meantime.
The association, on the other hand, is asking for wage increases.
Fazio said, "What we'd be asking for would be two point one percent [...] basically what we're asking for are increases to keep up with the increases that every other employee in Jackson County has received over the last two years, and the increases we're asking for are less than what management has received over the past two years [...] What we know is Jackson County budgeted three point one percent."
Fazio said, once arbitration talks started, Jackson County claimed to not have the funds to provide wage increases.
The contract will cover 2011, 2012 and 2013, and according to Fazio, it is almost time to start negotiations for the 2014-2017 contract.
The president of the association said, if the wage increases are approved, Jackson County will have to pay employees the difference for the last two years.
Both parties have presented an arbitrator with contract proposals. The arbitrator is required to choose the one he or she feels is in the public's best interest.
"We should know the first week of Feb." said Fazio.
News 10 tried to speak with Jackson County, but representatives said they cannot comment on the arbitration until a decision is made.