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San Joaquin County supervisors order concessions for correctional officers

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Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 12:00 am

Some 30 correctional officers who staff San Joaquin County Jail left Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting disappointed, after the board forced some salary and benefit concessions.

Several correctional officers commented on what the Board of Supervisors put on the table during a public hearing, which resulted in the board agreeing with county negotiators to change the terms of the contract. Officers said the move to force concessions was not a result of negotiations between the employees and county negotiators.

Negotiators, led by county Human Resources Director Cynthia Clays, reached agreements with 12 bargaining units from other county departments that resulted in concessions due to the recession and declining county revenues, but impasse was declared with the correctional officers.

"We never declared impasse," George Lauchland, president of the San Joaquin County Correctional Officers Association, said after Tuesday's meeting adjourned. "They declared impasse on us."

Lauchland added that portions of Clays' staff report were inaccurate. For example, the report incorrectly states that correctional officers hired after Jan. 29 will not get five floating holidays offered to existing officers, Lauchland said. Actually, the five holidays were eliminated for all officers, he said.

"The county has failed to consider a single option presented by the union, and has not presented an accurate picture to the Board of Supervisors and the citizens of the county," Lauchland said.

Clays said later Tuesday that correctional officers' salaries are not being reduced, but they will have to share the cost of employee-only health insurance and retirement premiums. The five unpaid holidays results in a 2 percent salary reduction, she said.

Several officers told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that they are paid less than other Sheriff's employees and that they aren't equipped with enough weapons to ensure safety at the county jail.

"We have given up quite a bit," correctional officer Jack Tadlock said. "The stress — physically, mentally and emotionally — is overwhelming. Everything's costing me more. I have less disposable income now than I had 10 years ago."

Correctional officers' salaries range from $1,019 to $1,239 per week, according to the county Human Resources Department. Meanwhile, a first-level deputy sheriff makes from $1,076 to $1,307 per week, and an upper-level deputy receives between $1,186 and $1,441 weekly.

"We face uncertain times," Supervisor Steve Bestolarides said. "We don't know how much the state will dump on us."

Supervisor Bob Elliott added, "Right now, we still don't have a county budget that is structurally balanced. Other departments have made concessions. It's a fairness issue."

The board voted 4-0 to approve what they called its "last, best and final offer." Supervisor Carlos Villapudua was absent.

To read the entire staff report and memorandum of understanding, visit www.tinyurl.com/bdb53gg and click the link for "Item 27" in the upper left corner.

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