November 07, 2013
Spokane County Commissioners' Office
Contract negotiations that began on September 29, 2011, between Spokane County and the Deputy Sheriff’s Association (DSA) were scheduled for interest arbitration to begin on November 5, 2013, but came to a halt after the Board of County Commissioners filed an Unfair Labor Practice against the DSA.
On October 30th, Spokane County filed an Unfair Labor Practice with the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC), alleging that the union engaged in regressive bargaining concerning the wage proposal submitted to the arbitrator by the DSA. The Unfair Labor Practice Manager found a cause of action and issued a preliminary ruling on November 1, 2013. The case has been assigned to a Hearing Examiner who will schedule an expedited hearing for later this month or December 2013. Although Spokane County requested the arbitration move forward on November 5, 2013, PERC’s Executive Director suspended the arbitration pending the outcome of the unfair labor practice complaint.
At issue is the DSA’s proposal to the arbitrator for a 2%-5% cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) that would not be based on the Consumer Price Index All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014. Spokane County’s position is that during negotiation and mediation sessions, the DSA proposed using a CPI-U formula. This formula would have resulted in wage increases between 2% – 2.77% annually. With the new DSA proposal, wages increases could be as high as 5% per year. According to the Spokane County Budget Office, the cost of the DSA proposal using the
CPI-U formula is $2.7 million – compared to $6.5 million if the arbitrator awards a 5% wage adjustment each year based on the worse-case scenario of the DSA’s revised proposal to the arbitrator.
The County believes this is regressive bargaining which prompted the filing of the Unfair Labor Practice. Additionally, the Board of County Commissioners said the DSA’s wage demands are unsustainable given the County’s flat revenue projections going into 2014, and is unfair to the rest of the county workforce which has not received a COLA for three years. The county’s annual general fund budget is approximately $140-million.
The Deputy Sheriff’s Association has 21 days to respond to Spokane County’s Unfair Labor Practice claim.
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