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Countywide : Deputies, County Reach Wage Accord

Orange County sheriff’s deputies Tuesday reached a tentative labor agreement with the county, perhaps ending an eight-month-long contract dispute over wages and benefits that was marked by two “blue-flu” demonstrations.

The agreement, details of which were not immediately disclosed, must be ratified in a vote of the 1,300-member Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.

Association General Manager Robert MacLeod said a vote would be scheduled for either Friday or Monday.

Another bout of “flu” had been set for Thursday at the Intake/Release Center and James A. Musick Branch Jail, but MacLeod said those protests would be canceled because of the tentative agreement.

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Neither MacLeod nor county negotiators would discuss contract details, although deputies had been asking for a three-year pact, with 3.5% pay increases for the second and third years. The association was not seeking a raise in the first year.

The county reportedly had offered 3% raises for the second and third years, and was not sufficiently funding medical and other types of benefits for the officers, the association general manager said.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and at some point during each negotiation all of it comes together,” MacLeod said. “But I’m never happy until it’s ratified.”

The deputies have been working without a contract since last October and negotiators from the county and association have been meeting since Aug. 1.

Judy Davis, county chief of employee relations, acknowledged the negotiations were lengthy, but that is not unusual.

“We have every reason to expect that it will be ratified,” Davis said.

Until Tuesday, association officials had promised to stage protests, with deputies calling in sick each week until the county improved its offer.

Last week, 36 deputies called in sick for their various assignments at the Central Men’s Jail and at the department’s professional standards division. Before that, 20 officers participated in a “blue-flu” during a day shift at the department’s North Division, which includes the communities of Rossmoor, Midway City and Lemon Heights.

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