Deputy sheriffs get salary bump before retiring

Published: Monday, Sep. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am

In the next two years, 173 employees of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department will retire as part of an agreement that gives them a 4 percent salary bump in their final years.

Under the agreement reached earlier this summer, sheriff’s deputies had to decide by July 2 if they wanted to retire by 2015 and receive a salary increase that otherwise would have been deferred over several years. The increase in salary will mean higher retirement benefits for most of the deputies, because pensions are typically calculated by using salaries in an employee’s final years.

The agreement has upset some other county labor groups. Most of the county’s other unions are operating without a contract and have gone without salary increases for several years, as the county has struggled with budget deficits.

“They are always so gracious to law enforcement,” said Ted Somera, executive director of United Public Employees, Local 1, the county’s biggest union. “In the interim, the rest of the county workers get the shaft.”

County officials and the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association defend the agreement, saying it will actually save the county money. That’s because the sheriff’s deputies were scheduled to receive a 4.7 percent salary increase this year but agreed to spread it out over several years, unless they’re retiring.

“The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association has consistently stepped forward and been willing to reduce their benefits,” said County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan.

In 2009, the association agreed to defer a raise until this year. The association’s 1,500 members were scheduled to receive the raise starting July 1, but before it went into place, President Kevin Mickelson said he approached the county about revising the terms.

He said the membership was willing to defer some of the salary increase, as long as the group expecting to retire was given what they were promised, he said. Eighty-three percent of the membership voted for the contract addendum, he said.

The salary increase has not created an incentive to retire, Mickelson said. Association retirements are going up – an average of about 85 employees in each of the next two years, compared with 58 a year in the past, he said. But the increase is due to other factors, such as a hiring spree in the late 1980s and recent budget troubles that kept people from retiring, he said.

UPE’s Somera said he doesn’t fault the sheriff’s deputies for getting a good contract, but he thinks the county needs to make similar offers to other labor groups. He said the county is “dragging its feet” in labor negotiations. Most county unions have been without an agreement since July 1.

MacGlashan said the county is not dragging its feet but that she could not discuss pending negotiations. County labor negotiators also have declined to comment about the pending negotiations.

Call The Bee’s Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @BradB_at_SacBee

Read more articles by Brad Branan

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