Nevada County deputies march for raise
NEVADA CITY – A driving rainstorm didn’t deter off-duty Nevada County deputies and their supporters from manning a picket line a week ago.
“I think this is a great turnout; everyone’s spirits are up,” said Deputy Pat McNulty, president of the Nevada County Deputy Sheriff’s Association and organizer of a recent 90-minute picketing in front of the county’s administrative headquarters in Nevada City.
Between 75 and 100 people carried rain-soaked placards pleading their case to visitors at the administrative offices. Law enforcement officers from Grass Valley and Placer County, Nevada County correctional officers and representatives from the Nevada County Deputy District Attorney’s Association joined the picket line in a show of solidarity.
“People coming into the building have been very supportive of our efforts,” McNulty added.
The county’s 54 deputies have been working without a contract since 1996, and without a raise since the last two-year contract was signed in 1994. Negotiations were scheduled to open today between the county and the Deputy Sheriff’s Association.
Last week’s picketing was an effort to bring public pressure to bear on supervisors to reach an agreement with deputies, McNulty said.
“We’re only asking for a fair contract, and we’re extending our hands to the board to have them join us in reaching an equitable solution,” he said.
A starting deputy makes $12.52 an hour, while the most experienced earn $16.78. County negotiators offered deputies a 2 percent increase but refused to make it retroactive. Supervisors imposed their own contract on deputies in September that included no pay increase.
The association’s attorney and chief negotiator, Paul Goyette of Goyette and Adams of Placerville, was also on Monday’s picket line.
“I think you can see from the turnout that deputies are willing to take the steps needed to educate the public and are willing to do what is necessary to get the job done,” Goyette said.
He added that if negotiations don’t succeed, the association wants the dispute to go to binding arbitration.
“But we think our dispute is solvable,” Goyette said.
A rumor that county negotiators want a gag order on any disclosure of last week’s negotiations was quickly squelched by the county’s counsel, James Flageollet.
“It’s news to me. I was not consulted on the issue, and it’s not going to happen (today),” Flageollet said.
Goyette said that any effort to close negotiations after deputies have walked the picket line “would send an inconsistent statement to the public. We’re not going to be able to agree to that.”
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