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Ohio sheriff's staff seeks to negotiate pay increase

The country's difficult economy has caused business leaders across the county to make spending cuts. As the governments at every level juggle revenue and spending, the financial crisis continues to affect local economies. In Columbus, Ohio, as in other parts of the country, those who are employed often have to accept lessened pay without the guarantee of ever getting new employment contracts or pay increases.

Such is the case in Pickaway County, Ohio, where unionized sheriff's office employees are asking the county to increase their current compensation package, which has been on hold since 2009. Reportedly, conciliators were already commissioned to assess whether the deputies, dispatchers and corrections officers will get the increase, despite a freeze on pay hikes instituted as the result of smaller local budgets.

Previous efforts by the county failed to end contract disputes with the employees' union, and the county offered a wage freeze this year after talks led to a stalemate. Negotiations for potential raises in 2014 and 2015 are ongoing. So far, no employment agreement has been reached, but both sides intend to select one of five conciliators to make binding pay raise decisions.

Anticipating continued budget struggles, the county spent $280,000 on lump sum payments to its employees last year, which amounted to about three percent of their salaries. The county's budget was cut by $100,000 this year, with a budget deficit expected. The county is banking on carryover funds from last year to bail itself out of the deficit and pay its bills. The employees, whose current pay trails that of other Ohio counties, argue that the amount of the carryover can include paying the requested increase.

Granting pay increases is a difficult task given the current economic conditions. However, if a pay increase is warranted, it should be given to employees for their hard work and on-the-job dedication, especially in stressful jobs like corrections and law enforcement. Otherwise, the inevitable disputes can lead to legal action and entanglement. Those who are caught up in such a situation could benefit from consulting with a employment law professional for advice on their rights and how to protect them.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, "'Conciliators' will decide on raise for sheriff's staff," Randy Ludlow, Jan. 29, 2013

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