FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|| September 6, 2013
Jacquelyn Aufderheide, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor
County considers appeal of Superior Court ruling
Orchard, WA) -
Commissioners are considering appealing a judge's ruling that an arbitration
award was arbitrary and capricious. The deadline for filing an appeal is
The arbitration award, issued in February by a
three-member arbitration panel, settled a dispute between sheriffs deputies
and county negotiators over terms of a collective bargaining agreement for
The arbitration panel gave the 105 deputies a 2 percent wage rate increase
retroactive to January 2012 plus another half percent increase effective
July 2012, increasing an average deputy's wages by $144.23 per month. As a
consequence of the recession, most county employees received no wage rate
increases in 2012.
The additional half percent wage increase was intended to offset increases
in employee contributions toward the cost of medical insurance premiums.
Both the half percent wage increase and premium increases were to go into
effect July 2012.
The Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff Guild challenged this award, issued earlier
this year. Last Friday a Pierce County judge confirmed that the portion of
the award retroactively increasing employee medical insurance contributions
violated employees' due process rights, and struck that language from the
Prior to the award, the County paid 100% of the employee-only premium and
90% of dependent premiums. Under the terms of the award, deputy sheriffs
were to contribute 3 percent toward the cost of employee-only premiums and
15 percent of the cost of dependent premiums.
"100 percent employer-paid premiums for health insurance are no longer
standard nor are they sustainable," said Commissioner Josh Brown. According
to Commissioner Brown, if the award had been implemented according to its
terms, and depending on employees' choice of plans, a deputy sheriff would
go from paying nothing for medical premiums to paying $19.47 a month for
employee-only coverage. An employee's contributions for full-family coverage
would increase from $116.78 to $194.64 per month.
"By comparison, most county employees pay as much as $71.22 per month for
employee-only coverage, and $307.86 for dependent coverage," said
Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. "The County's proposal to pay 97 percent for
employee-only premiums and 85 percent for full family is a reasonable effort
to bring deputies closer to what the rest of the county's employees are
paying," said Commissioner Garrido.
According to Jacquelyn Aufderheide, Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor, the
solution mandated by this ruling also creates several problems. Ms.
Aufderheide, who argued the case on behalf of the county, reported that
under current legal standards, deference should be afforded to arbitration
decisions and affirmed unless they are willful and unreasonable.
The Legislature established interest arbitration as an alternative means of
settling disputes involving uniformed employees. "Striking one part of the
award changes the dynamic of the entire award," said Ms. Aufderheide.
"Typically, a reviewing court either affirms the entire award or vacates it
and remands it back to the arbitrator.