Douglas County, deputies and sergeants associations heading for arbitration |

Douglas County, deputies and sergeants associations heading for arbitration

Record-Courier Report

A contract dispute between Douglas County deputies and the county has gone to fact-finding after the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, according to a statement issued by the county on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

Several people have weighed in on the negotiations between the county and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association and the Sergeants Bargaining Unit, urging the county to settle.

After fact-finding, the next step is binding arbitration.

Negotiations started in March, when the county budgeted and approved a 9-percent wage increase for all of its workers.

In order to receive the increase, the county had to modify its agreements with all of its associations, and the deputies and sergeants declined.

The county’s current offer includes an immediate increase to the pay range of over 9%, with an increase of over 13% to the entry-level deputy base wage rate, officials said on Wednesday.

“This board cares very much about the deputies,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Doug Ritchie told commissioners on Nov. 17. “Any implication that the sheriff, the administration or the board of county commissioners do not care about the people who protect us every day is categorically false.”

In a letter published in the Nov. 16 edition of The Record-Courier, Sgt. Jeff Schemenauer said that a new Douglas County deputy is paid 20% less than a new Carson City deputy, 35% less than a Sparks police officer and 47% less than a Reno officer or Washoe deputy.

“Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has the lowest starting wage of the group, making it very difficult to attract and retain qualified officers,” he said.

County statement issued on Nov. 23

Douglas County has recently received a number of inquiries regarding current labor negotiations. In March of 2022, Douglas County and the Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Association began the process to bargain in good faith and exchanged proposals for a new labor agreement. At this time, an agreement has not been reached. A 9 percent wage increase was budgeted and provided to the majority of Douglas County employees. In the current negations, the County proposed a 9 percent wage increase. DCSPA rejected that offer and made a counteroffer. The County’s current offer to DCSPA includes an immediate increase to the pay range of over 9 percent, with an increase of over 13 percent to the entry-level deputy base wage rate. Over the course of Douglas County’s proposed four-year labor agreement, DCSPA employees would receive an average wage increase of 33 percent, ranging from 19 to 49 percent. The county’s current offer is estimated to cost approximately $8.5 million over four years.

Highlights of the county’s most recent offer to DCSPA for Deputies and Investigators include:

• Deputy entry-level wage rate increased by 13.6 percent.

• Immediate increases in employee compensation of an average $400 per month and, by the end of year four, wages will increase an average of $1,900 per month or more than $21,000 per year. This increase is only to base wages and does not include increases to incentives and benefits.

• Annual cost of living adjustments up to 4 percent.

• Implementation of a step system where an employee meeting expectations will receive a guaranteed annual 3 percent step increase until the employee reaches the top of the salary range.

• New contract language providing for the County to cover future PERS increases up to 2 percent on behalf of the employees.

• A flat payment longevity structure, based on years of service, is introduced beginning in year three.

• New contract language guaranteeing a fixed percentage of an employee’s health insurance premiums are paid by the County.

While both parties have engaged in diligent and thoughtful negotiations over the last several months, they have been unable to reach an agreement. Pursuant to Nevada law, when a local government and a union are unable to reach an agreement, they must engage in a process called fact-finding through a neutral third party. The fact finder’s job is to determine the reasonableness of each party’s offer. It is not possible to accurately predict how long the fact-finding process will take.

The members of Douglas County’s Law Enforcement Community remain a vital and valued part of our community and of Douglas County as an organization. The County remains dedicated to reaching a new agreement with DCSPA as soon as possible.

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