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Commission signs off on Sheriff’s Office union change

Washington County Commissioners signed off Thursday on the Washington County Sheriff’s Office changing unions from the Fraternal Order of Police to Teamsters.

Chief Deputy Mark Warden said the FOP contract was over at the end of 2019. They then asked the Teamsters union to present their case.

At the end of the FOP contract, they voluntarily agreed to follow the contract until the Teamsters contract was finalized.

“It’s been almost a year in the making to get to this point,” Warden said. “From our standpoint, it helps with retention and hiring.”

He said the Marietta Police Department and the county engineering department have also changed to the Teamsters union.

“The insurance package is a lot better than what the (County Employee Benefits Consortium of Ohio) CEBCO had to offer.”

He said the Teamsters insurance is totally separate from joining their union, but once they got the insurance settled, they decided to go contractually with Teamsters.

There were tweaks to the FOP contract that they used in the contract with Teamsters.

“There are different bargaining units within the contract,” Warden explained. “We do have some employees that are non-union members, administrative clerks, that sort of thing.”

He said there are 10 bargaining units and whatever the person’s job title, that’s the bargaining unit they fall within.

“The deputy sheriffs are a bargaining unit. Cooks are a unit and so are dispatchers,” he added.

The two-year agreement runs from Nov. 29, 2020, through Nov. 28, 2022.

The commissioners had to sign off on the contracts, as the sheriff’s office has two funding sources — the county’s general fund and the sales tax. The commission covers the employer’s 80 percent share of insurance.

Warden said the sheriff’s office and Teamsters are both happy with the contract.

“This will help us retain more employees and it’s good for our recruitment,” he noted.

During Thursday’s meeting, the commissioners first had to sign the health insurance switch.

“The Teamsters health insurance is in the new contract and before that can be done, the board of commissioners, by the power designated in us by our governor, have to approve them removing from the county’s current CEBCO and allowing them to go out on their own,” explained Commission President Ron Feathers.

Commissioner David White said he has no issue with the change in insurance.

“They have pretty good insurance, so far evidenced by the (county) highway department who have had no problem with it, but I would like to add the caveat … we will not appropriate more than the amount that it would be for CEBCO,” he said.

He added if at some point Teamsters insurance gets more costly than the appropriation, the county will not cover it.

Commissioner Kevin Ritter noted what they’ve seen so far puts the Teamsters insurance well within the appropriate amount.

Once the insurance agreement was signed, the commissioners signed the union contract.

“I looked it over and didn’t see anything in particular that was extraordinarily different from previous contracts. It was well negotiated,” White said.

Feathers said he appreciated the sheriff’s office holding the line on several issues the union was requesting.

“A much higher than normal pay increase during these times of uncertainty. You held the line there,” he said. “Additional days off for unknown numbers of days off … you held the line there. Thank you.”

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