Lack of Contract Is Making Some Deputies ‘Sick’ : Labor: About 20 patrol officers will stay off job today in North Division to protest fruitless negotiations with county. Deputies from other shifts will cover for them.
About 20 Orange County sheriff’s deputies are expected to call in sick today as part of a job action protesting eight months of unsuccessful contract negotiations with the county, a deputies’ association spokesman said Wednesday.
“Our purpose is not to have an adverse impact on the Sheriff’s Department or the citizens of the county,” said Robert MacLeod, general manager of the Assn. of Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies. “We merely need to let the county know, in as modest a way as possible, that our members are frustrated by the bargaining process.”
MacLeod said the association’s 1,300 members overwhelmingly supported the job action, which will affect only the northern unincorporated areas of the county. He said there will be more protests if the county does not respond with a better wage and benefit package.
Assistant Sheriff Walter W. Fath said the job action will “not disrupt service” to any of the communities covered by the North Division. No city that contracts for Sheriff’s Department services will be affected.
Today’s “blue flu” job action will be “of limited scope” and occur during the day shift. It will last about 8 1/2 hours and involve about 11 patrol officers and 10 investigators from the department’s North Division, MacLeod said.
MacLeod said the association is asking for a three-year contract with a 3.5% pay raise for both the second and third years. The deputies are not asking for a raise in the first year. The county has offered 3% raises for the second and third years.
MacLeod also said the county is not sufficiently funding medical and other benefits for deputies.
The deputies have been working without a contract since October. Negotiators from the association and county had been meeting for four months before the contract expired.
County Administrative Officer Ernie Schneider declined to discuss the details of the county’s offer, but called it a “fair offer.”
Schneider, who was aware of the deputies’ plans to protest, said the sickout will have “no effect” on his recommendations to the Board of Supervisors regarding the contract. He added that the county will not seek a court order to prevent the deputies’ job action.
Fath said deputies from the midnight shifts will remain on duty today and deputies from the evening shifts will be brought in early to cover the absent patrol deputies.