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Kings County Deputies Strike, Then Disappear

July 19, 1986|JACK JONES | Times Staff Writer

Nearly 60 striking Kings County sheriff's deputies were missing Friday, frustrating efforts by county officials to serve them with a temporary restraining order to halt their walkout in a dispute over pay and retirement benefits.

Amid reports that the striking officers had left the county or even the state to avoid service, County Counsel Denis Eymil said, "We're going to continue trying to serve them. We'll find 'em. They can't stay lost forever."

Members of the Deputy Sheriffs Assn. of Kings County walked out at 3 a.m. Thursday after negotiations with the county broke down Wednesday night. Four hours after the walkout began, Kings County Superior Court Judge Peter Schultz issued the restraining order and set a hearing for Aug. 1 to consider whether the order should be made permanent.

Sheriff Tom Clarke and a dozen other supervisory personnel remained on the job to handle emergency calls, along with one deputy who was found and served with a copy of the restraining order. Kings County has mutual assistance agreements with Tulare and Fresno counties, and no immediate rise in crime has been reported.

At the deputies' association office in Hanford, no one was answering the telephone.

David Edge, assistant Kings County administrative officer, said the deputies had been working for the past year without a contract and that their final demands include a wage and benefit increase totaling 23%, including a 9% pay hike.

The county, Edge said, has offered a package containing a 16.5% overall increase, including a 7% salary boost. He said the key sticking point has been retirement, with deputies demanding a retirement plan equal to that of the California Highway Patrol. The county is willing to give that to officers now on the job, Edge said, but not to future deputies.

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