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Ventura County, Sheriff's Deputies OK Labor Pact

July 02, 2005|Catherine Saillant | Times Staff Writer

Ventura County sheriff's deputies this week ratified a labor contract that increases health benefits and hikes salaries by 4% over the next 18 months, a union official said Friday.

The pact got 85% approval in a vote held Thursday, said Sgt. Pat Buckley, president of the Ventura County Deputy Sheriffs' Assn. Buckley said it was the first time in three decades that a contract had been completed before the previous one expired.

He attributed the smooth negotiations to a lack of contentious issues. In the last round of negotiations three years ago, union leaders held rallies and filled the Board of Supervisors' hearing room to plead for enhanced pension benefits.

Negotiations went on for nearly two years before union members reluctantly approved a contract without the pension enhancements. This time the pension issue was not brought up, Buckley said.

"We are one of the only agencies in California that doesn't have enhanced pension," he said. "But we have more immediate needs right now."

In addition to the pay raise, the 700 deputies will be paid an additional $100 a month over the current $496 monthly stipend they receive to help cover health insurance premiums.

"That was important to our membership," Buckley said. "Healthcare costs have exploded, and that's dollars out of their pocket."

Supervisor Linda Parks said she was pleased that negotiations went smoothly. The county has gone through several lean budget years, and that lowered expectations, she said.

"Both sides had a realistic understanding of what is available and doable," she said.

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