Supes approve law enforcement pay raise

By Amie Windsor

Independent Coast Observer of Gualala, California

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a labor agreement between the Mendocino County and the Mendocino County Law Enforcement Management Association (MCLEMA) for the term of July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2017 on Tuesday. The agreement compensates eligible employees for lost employer-paid retirement with incremental salary increases over a three year period.

The agreement comes after Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman spoke about his hopes for a salary increase for Deputy Sheriff's at a forum held at the Gualala Community Center earlier this month.

During the forum, Allman spoke of the importance of the pay increase, citing it as crucial for retaining and recruiting officers on the coast, since a 2010 reduction in salary of 10 percent was still in effect, crippling today's force.

Until Tuesday, none of that money had been returned to eligible employees. While the compensation does not go back to 2010, eligible employees will receive funds from 2014.

During the first year, the County will provide a one-time payment of $1200 to all bargaining unit employees who are employed on the day of the payment.

Upon the first pay period of July 2015, employer-paid retirement is eliminated; however bargaining unit employees receive a 6.5 percent salary increase. Bargaining unit employees also receive a three percent general adjustment salary increase in July 2015.

In year three, bargaining employees receiving a two percent general adjustment salary increase at first pay period of July 2016.

Lieutenant Kirk Mason, one of the negotiators for MCLEMA and expresident of the Deputy Sheriff's Association, spoke at the Supervisors meeting Tuesday.

"While this was still a process," he said, "this was a simpler process [than other negotiations] and I'm very excited. Hopefully we'll come to an agreement. I am very excited for our employees."

After minor clarifications, Supervisor John

McCowen moved to approve the agreement.

"I think this agreement is a balance ... of trying to look into the future and still protect the financial stability of the county and yet begin to restore the wages to what they previously were. I think it's a reasonable balance between both those very important interests so I do move approval of the agreement."

A side letter agreement also states employees would receive no increases to their portion of healthcare premiums during the 2015 healthcare health plan year. This creates additional financial benefits and cost savings for eligible employees.

MCLEMA also represents employees classified as chief district attorney investigator, chief welfare fraud investigator, corrections lieutenant, sheriff's captain and sheriff's lieutenant, according to the county salary schedule.

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