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Published: Saturday, 9/11/2010

By slim vote, Lucas County deputies OK concessions to stem layoffs


By a narrow margin — 200-177 — noncommand deputies in the Lucas County sheriff's office Friday approved sweeping concessions that promise to end layoffs through next year.

“That is definitely a squeaker,” said Aaron Nolan, bargaining unit chairman for Local 3056, United Auto Workers, which represents more than 400 deputies, including those laid off earlier this year.

“There were serious economic concessions we were asked to take,” he said. “That added to the close vote.”

Late last month, county officials said that 20 deputies would be laid off within two weeks, on top of deputies laid off in June and other job losses in the sheriff's office.

With the vote yesterday, “instantaneously we saved 20 jobs,” Mr. Nolan said.

The pact is subject to approval by Lucas County commissioners.

Deputies agreed to take unpaid furlough time — 29 hours this year; 115 hours next — or waive holiday pay. In 2011, they'll have the choice of waiving stress and uniform allowances to reach the goal of giving up 115 hours' pay. Those concessions will save the county $2.8 million, Mr. Nolan said.

Instead of overtime pay, deputies will get compensatory time off — at time-and-a-half — which will save the county $780,000.

In exchange, the sheriff's office agreed to minimum staffing levels at 389 deputies. The result will be job security — as in no layoffs through 2011.

“That's why the contract modification was ratified,” Mr. Nolan said.

Deputies voted Friday at three meetings held at UAW Region 2B headquarters in Maumee.

“We're just very happy,” Jim O'Neal, Lucas County jail administrator, said. “After tough negotiations, we were able to come to this conclusion. They're taking a substantial hit, and I can't say enough about their actions from a positive standpoint.”

In exchange for agreeing to pay cuts, both sides agreed that if the financial situation of the sheriff's office changes, a modification of the agreement could be negotiated.

The agreement includes the sheriff's commitment that command officers outside the union also would help ease the budget woes. In particular, nonunion employees who serve at the pleasure of the sheriff — and who retired from previous public service — will take 40 added furlough hours for full-time employees and 20 hours for part-time employees.

The union members agreed to proposed minimum staffing levels that outlined how many employees would be required for each shift in the jail, booking, the records department, dispatch, the administrative services division, and on road patrol.

In total, the agreement stated there would be a minimum of 389 noncommand bargaining unit members employed by the sheriff starting Sept. 26 through Dec. 31, 2011.

Only a change in the sheriff's operations could lead to a reduction in the minimum staffing levels.

— Mark Zaborney

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