Agreement reached with sheriffs assocation
The Lehigh County Commissioners unanimously approved the collective bargaining agreement between Lehigh County and the Lehigh County Deputy Sheriffs Association at its July 24 meeting. The county will continue to collect the union's dues.
At the July 10 Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Scott Ott made a motion to direct the administration to renegotiate the part of the new collective bargaining agreement which requires the county to collect the union dues. The administration followed the direction, but was unable to reach an agreement with the union. Ott said the county is not statutorily required to collect the dues.
Lehigh County's Director of Administration Thomas Muller summarized an email he received from the union's lawyer.
"Basically [the Deputy Sheriffs Association lawyer] is saying to us, 'We are not going to renegotiate that,' and if we were to fail to pass the contract as we've talked, they would prefer to go to arbitration," Muller said.
"Frankly, the odds of negotiating this in contracts with other unions is somewhere sort of slim," Muller said.
Muller said he talked to the county's attorney who said if the deputy sheriffs union chose to go to arbitration on just that one issue, the county would lose "hands down."
Commissioner Brad Osborne thanked both sides for their work on the contract.
"I think the question has been asked, it's been answered and I think this contract can stand on its own merits as a fair one," Osborne said.
Commissioner Vic Mazziotti agreed with Osborne.
"The increases are modest, the employees in this group also agreed to pay additional healthcare," Mazziotti said. "So I think it was a good agreement and certainly consistent with other agreements we have."
The contract was approved 7-0. Commissioners Ott and Thomas Creighton had notified the board they would not be present for the meeting.
The next board meeting will be held Aug. 14 in the public hearing room of the Lehigh County Government Center in Allentown.