I got this at 11:15 am.
Members of the ECSO:
For those who want the short version:
Negotiations with the PBA have no end in sight so the Sheriff is distributing the first $1 Million Dollars under the current contract rules and is not waiting for a new contract which would be required for the new pay plan. We will be using the entire $1 Million dollars to adjust the annual salaries for our deputies below the rank of Sergeant (recruits and trainees included) by $2200 which is where we have the most attrition, retention, and recruiting issues. This will be retroactive to 5/1/2018, which is when the Sheriff received the money. It is most desirable to have a comprehensive and predictable pay plan and it is the Sheriff’s hope that the NWFPBA sits down in good faith to negotiate a contract before the next distribution of raises in October.
For those who want the long version:
As you are all aware, after a long and hard fight by Sheriff Morgan with the County Commissioners a settlement was entered into that will add a projected $9 Million Dollars over the next three years to the ECSO personnel budget. It was our hope that this money could not only ensure our 3% raises for the next 3 years but that it could also create competitive pay scales, fix compression, and address other issues in our current pay plan. The BOCC had paid for a salary study that was mostly complete but would require modifications and significant contract changes to implement. Promotional amounts, back pay, annual raise amounts, elimination of the previous copyrighted DBM system, classifications, guaranteed amounts, contingencies, etc. all needed to be changed in HR Rules and the contract. The pay plan will take three years to implement and as such, a three year, whole contract will need to be signed. Being that the contract was going to be open, there were other issues that needed to be addressed as well.
Last August, the Sheriff requested negotiations and sat down with NWFPBA to make modifications to the Discipline Matrix which the NWFPBA had always told him was “a work in progress”. He specifically requested the negotiations to reduce some mandatory Level “E” violations that were automatic terminations. There were several other violations that we also requested for the range to go up or down. The implementation of the discipline matrix was never bargained for. It was requested by the PBA and simply signed as an MOU between contracts. It was not incorporated into the last contract and as such it needs to be incorporated the next time the contract is opened. The negotiations over the matrix last year were never followed up on as we knew eventually we would be sitting down for a pay plan negotiation and they would be decided on then.
A second issue that needed to be addressed while the contract was open was due to issues in arbitration and discipline that needed to be clarified. This was not a surprise to the NWFPBA leadership as we had told them over the past year that some of the PBA contracted attorneys and non PBA attorneys have been trying to find loopholes in our contract that were never intended to exist. In fact, almost every change we were requesting have been the past practice or the intent of the current contract as admitted to by the past and present PBA presidents. For example, we currently have an arbitration of a terminated employee that has been filed for over a year. Their attorney hasn’t even picked a date for it as there are no deadlines in our current contract. In another instance an employee decided to file an EEOC complaint while concurrently proceeding with the arbitration process. This has never been allowed as employees have been required to pick one forum or the other. One of the big issues is the level of proof needed in the arbitration–whether it should be preponderance of evidence vs clear and convincing evidence. In each of these three instances, the ECSO took the exact language DIRECTLY from the contracts that the State PBA negotiated with the FHP, the State Agents, and the State Law Enforcement Officers in December of 2017 that would solve the ECSO’s concerns. Apparently, for some reason that the local NWFPBA President admits he cannot explain to me, that language is now not acceptable to the PBA.
We have tried to negotiate in good faith with NWFPBA. In the first three sessions we met with their executive leadership they chose not to have their attorneys present. They just requested for our attorneys to send our proposed language for discipline and arbitration to their attorneys. To be kind, we got a minimal response at best and didn’t hear anything until the day before the next negotiation. For the third session, their lead attorney fell ill but their back up attorney who was supposed to advise them during the negotiation break was unable to assist them. Even giving them an additional two business days to work through their issues they now say they want to set up negotiations two more weeks out.
At this point there isn’t much to negotiate. NWFPBA knows what the pros and cons are with what we are proposing. It is our opinion that only the negative is leaking out of negotiations. Very few people are even aware of how much of a raise they would have received (averaging all employees together it is a 23% increase. The PBA has your individual amounts.). When the Sheriff fought a politically bloody fight and the PBA sat and watched from the sidelines he ended up negotiating with the BOCC for the largest raises the ECSO has ever seen. There are some things in the final negotiation he didn’t necessarily like, but the whole package was worth it.
NWFPBA will have to consider this for the second distribution of raises that will occur in October as the Sheriff is no longer waiting to distribute this first $1 Million Dollars that he received from the BOCC in his Personnel budget. The money will go in its entirety to where the most vacancies and attrition is occurring which is deputies. Starting pay for all deputy and trainee positions below the rank of Sgt. will be receiving a salary adjustment of $2200 to their annual salary. It is also our intention to make it effective retroactively to when the Sheriff received the money which would be 5/1/2018.
We will no longer be negotiating with the NWFPBA without their attorneys present as it appears it was a wasted effort. We have asked them to provide dates so we can begin another attempt to negotiate a contract before the October raises.
For the Sheriff,
Chief Deputy Eric Haines