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Sheriff's deputies receive annual pay raises in new deal with county

Board of Supervisors, unions endorse labor contract this month

Contra Costa County supervisors Tuesday gave final approval to a new labor contract with county sheriff's office employees after an agreement was reached with an unprecedented haste.

The contract boosts wages for Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office personnel by 5% each July for the next three years, with certain employees receiving an extra 2.5% pay boost in 2017, according to county staff.

"Obviously it's not as much as we'd like to be able to do, but all things considered, this is a good contract," Supervisor Karen Mitchoff said.

The agreement, which was originally reached on March 11, was ratified on March 22 with near-unanimous support by the unions representing sheriff's office personnel.

Sgt. Shawn Welch, president of the Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association, said this is the first time such a contract has been ratified prior to the last contract expiring.

He thanked the supervisors for their quick action on coming to an agreement, given severe problems of recruitment and retention at the sheriff's office.

"I hope the next time we sit down and talk it goes the same way ... so we don't fall back in this hole," Welch told supervisors.

During a November Board of Supervisors meeting, sheriff's officials reported that about a third of recruits hired since May 2010 have left for other agencies, most within a year or two.

The deputies are often pursuing higher paying work at agencies such as BART, or city police departments such as Richmond and Antioch, sheriff's officials said.

Sheriff's officials also highlighted trouble getting new recruits to apply for positions, explaining that applications have decreased 40% since the peak in 2012.

Supervisor Candace Andersen, whose district includes the San Ramon Valley, said Tuesday she's hopeful that the new contract serves as a "tool for recruiting the quality personnel needed to keep our county safe."

According to county staff, the wage increases are expected to cost $24.3 million, including $8.7 million in pension payments, by fiscal year 2018-19.

— Bay City News Service

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