Images of Kitsap County
Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: March 27, 2006
Contact: PJ Callahan
Phone: (360) 337-4481
No. 06-26

County Commissioners Authorize Unfair Labor Practice Charge Against Deputy Sheriff's Guild

PORT ORCHARD, WA—The Kitsap Board of County Commissioners has authorized the county prosecutor’s office to file an unfair labor practice charge against the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild. The charge is a claim filed with the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) when one party feels another has violated the Public Employment Relations Act. PERC has the authority to order parties to honor their legal duty to bargain in good faith and to cease and desist from refusing to bargain.

“Since August 2005, the county has worked diligently in an attempt to bargain for a new labor agreement with the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild before the end of 2005, which is when the current three-year agreement expired.” said Rob Gudmundson, Kitsap County Labor Relations Manager. “While the guild and the county have met nine times regarding this contract, the guild has canceled or departed before the end of five meetings and refused to meet on other occasions.”

Since November 28, 2005, the parties have only met on one occasion. The county believes it is unlikely an agreement can be reached unless the mediator assigned by PERC can try to find common ground. The most contentious issue in the negotiations has been medical insurance. The guild has indicated that it does not want to proceed with negotiations as long as the county desires the deputies to be on the same medical plans at the same contribution rates as all other county employees and elected officials. The county was willing to increase overall contributions toward medical insurance by 10% each year, but the deputies do not want any limits on the county’s contributions. In 2005, an interest arbitrator awarded a settlement placing the deputies on the same medical insurance plan at the same county contribution rates as all other county employees and elected officials; the deputies are now attempting to undo this award.

In March 2005, the county’s Medical Benefits Committee began working with all of its respective unions to request quotes for 2006 medical insurance renewals. In June, Mike Rodrigue, the guild’s president, stated that the guild would not participate in the joint labor-management Medical Benefits Committee, but indicated the guild’s interest in receiving any quotes that the committee obtained from other regional carriers. While not required to do so, the county did get other quotes for the guild in order to move negotiations forward; however, ultimately the guild did not propose any of these alternative plans.

Throughout late summer and fall 2005, the county attempted to meet with representatives of the guild, but meetings were repeatedly canceled by the guild demanding that the county provide new medical insurance quotes. By December 19, the guild had not submitted a formal written proposal regarding insurance or opening proposals on several issues on which the guild itself had requested the opportunity to bargain.

“While the absence of any proposals on any open subject makes bargaining difficult, the absence of a health insurance proposal from the guild made it essentially impossible for the county to proceed,” said Gudmundson. On December 23, 2005, the guild delivered its opening health insurance proposal to the county, one week before the expiration of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and four months after bargaining commenced.

“The county has continued to work through a mediator to try to find a compromise,” summarized Gudmundson. “The guild has avoided its duty to bargain in good faith by using dilatory and evasive tactics.”

The guild has canceled bargaining sessions unilaterally, refused to confirm bargaining dates to which it had previously committed, used requests for information as a tool to delay rather than advance negotiations and conditioned its willingness to bargain upon provisions of information it knows the county does not possess and cannot obtain within the time demanded. The guild has refused to meet and bargain based on the county’s unwillingness to agree to retroactivity of terms to which the parties have not reached agreement. And, most recently, after the guild delayed negotiations past the contract renewal date, the guild informed the county that it would not agree to any settlement that did not compensate the guild’s members for the costs incurred by them as a result of their own delay tactics.

“We are truly frustrated with the tactics of the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild’s leadership and its counsel, Cline & Associates, to delay the labor negotiations process,” said Jan Angel, chair of the board. “While we’d rather take the high road and not have to file this charge, the guild's representative has engaged in conduct aimed at preventing consensus and has shown no willingness to reasonably consider legitimate county interests.”
 


To contact the Kitsap County Public Information Office, 
call PJ Callahan at 360-337-4481 or email: pjramos@co.kitsap.wa.us

Last Updated:  May 27, 2014