Deputy sheriffs reject pact by 51-0

They seek salary parity with counterparts in nearby counties

April 06, 2000|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County deputy sheriffs unanimously rejected last night the county's offer of a 6 percent raise over three years and an alternative plan that would have left the largest number -- 12 out of 56 deputies -- with a $9 raise next year.

The 51-0 vote put the contract talks at an impasse and will send the two sides to a mediator.

Andrew C. Carpenter, spokesman for County Executive Janet S. Owens, said he felt it would be inappropriate to comment on the deputies' action.

Deputies are seeking pay parity with surrounding counties and raises similar to the 17 percent increase over three years won by county police last month, a package that would cost the county about $250,000 a year. They also want a compressed pay scale in which deputies would reach the top of the pay scale in 10 years. It now takes 22 years for them to top out. They are eligible for retirement in 20 years.

"As unfair, as obviously ridiculous as the proposal is -- it still required a vote by the membership," said J. William Mowery, business agent for Teamsters Local 103, which represents 1,700 public employees.

Barred from striking, deputies have appealed to the public with a letter-writing campaign and leaflets. They have the option of demonstrating at the County Council meeting April 17. They are likely to receive help from other members of their local.

Union officials would not rule out Teamsters in other areas taking action against the county.

Deputies say they need a substantial raise because they start at $25,832, which is less than some of the county's emergency dispatchers. One deputy said that when he started and his wife was pregnant with their third child, the family was eligible for public assistance.

The deputies, who are armed, have the same law enforcement certification as police. They have two explosives-and-weapons-sniffing dogs, who were called to hundreds of bomb threats at schools in recent years.

This is the second contract rejection in a week for the county. On Tuesday, firefighters rejected an administration offer of a 13 percent raise over three years.

Mowery will meet this morning with Sheriff George F. Johnson IV, who has supported the deputies' contract proposals.

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