Sheriff’s deputies postpone talks until after January
Saying they are discouraged by the county’s latest offer, Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies have postponed any further contract talks until the beginning of January.
Deputies met with the county’s chief negotiator, Lee Clark of the Clark-Heidrich Group of the Bay area, last Thursday, at which time they were offered a 2 percent raise over two years, retroactive to Oct. 1, said Pat McNulty, president of the Nevada County Deputy Sheriffs Association. The offer also provided that the county would adjust their salary to 10 percent below what their regional counterparts receive.
“In other words, we would be getting a salary cut,” McNulty said. “Right now, it doesn’t look solvable. It’s a little disheartening.”
Clark disagreed. “The county gave the deputies an offer of a percentage pay raise and a future raise based on a wage and salary survey we’re conducting.” He added that the meeting “was congenial.”
A recent survey by The Union of Grass Valley of eight law enforcement agencies in the region showed only Sierra and Yuba counties pay their officers less than Nevada County does. A rookie officer’s starting pay, without benefits or incentives, is $12.52 per hour in Nevada County, while the regional average is $13.59. Based on those figures, the county’s new pay scale would drop a starting Nevada County deputy’s pay to $12.23.
Clark said that looking at only base salaries was “comparing apples to oranges” and that when the overtime and benefits are considered, Nevada Counties deputies receive an average salary over $50,000.
McNulty said he’s not sure what the next step would be for his organization, which represents 54 sworn officers. California law prohibits sworn law officers from participating in strikes or job slowdowns.
“We probably will wait and put a binding arbitration initiative on the ballot and ask the people if we deserve to receive what others in the county make,” McNulty said.
If deputies could get an initiative on the ballot, McNulty said, it would likely go for a vote in the 2000 general election, meaning deputies would be working without a contract for the next two years.
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