Deputies resume dialogue
By Brent Shrum, Western News Reporter
The unionized deputies, detention officers and other employees of the Lincoln County Sheriff¹s Office have canceled plans to go on strike and have resumed negotiations with the county.
Sheriff Daryl Anderson said he first heard around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, that his employees planned to go on strike beginning Monday, April 5. On Friday, the strike deadline was withdrawn.
³It¹s a big lack of communication,² Anderson said.
At issue is a clause that allows the sheriff and undersheriff to override seniority and reschedule an employee for a different shift for up to three months, Anderson said. The option can be used for disciplinary purposes — to move an officer who has been working nights onto the day shift to allow better supervision — or simply to give a break to someone who is in danger of burning out from working all nights, Anderson said. The process has been used ³six or eight times² Anderson said.
Some officers are apparently upset with the possibility of being forced to give up their day shifts to someone with less time in the department, Anderson said.
³They think they¹re losing seniority rights and so on and so forth,² he said.
Union members were scheduled to meet on Monday afternoon to discuss the status of negotiations. They have been working without a contract since last July 1.
Salaries are not an issue in the negotiations. State law sets salaries as a percentage of the sheriff¹s salary, which in turn is tied to the salaries of other elected county officials.
Anderson said he doesn¹t understand why the ³administrative shift² issue is an issue over which his employees would consider going on strike.
³If it had something to do with wages or working conditions I could understand it,² he said.