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Commissioners vote yes on jail workers contract

Commissioners this week formally approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Kitsap County Corrections Guild following an arbitrator’s ruling in early June.

A formal agreement was reached before county leaders knew what the final cost would be. Budget crunchers at the county later determined that the net cost to the county’s general budget will be $162,410, with the lion’s share of those cost increases — $109,993 — eaten up by expanded health benefits for jail staff and their families.

The final cost figures were only made publicly available a couple of hours prior to the Board of County Commissioner’s unanimous approval of the contract without public comment in the consent agenda during Monday night’s business meeting.

Bert Furuta, the county’s director of personnel and human services, said calculating the costs of the new agreement took longer than he would have liked. Furuta said that the work was complicated by the fact that each employee and their dependents had to be looked at on a case-by-case basis to determine dental and medical coverage, cost of living adjustments and more.

“The actual contract itself was already signed off and agreed to, all we were looking for was the final cost,” Furuta said.

Under the new contract, corrections guild members got a 2 percent increase in pay beginning July 1 and they will see another 1.2 percent increase starting December 1. The county has also agreed to pay for the first 10 percent of any increase over 2011 premium contributions for guild medical coverage in 2012. Guild members will continue to receive 100 percent dental coverage and their dependents will see a 10 percent increase for dental coverage.

During arbitration, the guild had asked for much more and officials estimated that the fiscal impact could have been potentially been over $1.5 million.

The June arbitration ruling was issued by a panel appointed by the Washington Public Employment Commission that was chaired by Oregon resident Howell L. Lankford. While the panel ruled favorably on the new pay increases, it sided with the county in denying any retroactive increases since the guild’s contract expired in 2009.

The cost of those retroactive increases for 2010 and 2011 -- a time period when many county employees took pay freezes, furlough days and made other concessions -- could have been substantial. The panel, though, did approve the guild’s comp time cap proposal, increasing it from 60 hours to 80 hours

In addition, the panel denied a guild request for longevity pay and more “premium holidays.” The guild also asked for a 50 percent sick leave cash-out, but the panel only awarded 25 percent.

 

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