Contra Costa County's deputy sheriffs ratified an unenviable two-year contract Tuesday night that will cut their pay 2.8 percent and dip deeper into their pockets for pensions and insurance.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to adopt the pact with the 771-member Deputy Sheriffs Association on Dec. 6.

Contra Costa estimates the wage and pay cuts in the contract will save the county $6.3 million a year in Contra Costa County's $1.2 billion budget.

The agreement is the latest in the county's push to settle with its unions and to cut personnel costs as its revenues continue to decline.

Negotiators earlier reached a hard-fought deal with midlevel managers and continue to talk with a five-union coalition of its largest public employee unions.

The deputies' last contract expired in mid-2008, but with nothing on the table except concessions and no right to strike, union leaders had little motivation to settle.

The county ratcheted up its leverage in October, threatening to force upon the deputies a one-year contract with even deeper pay and benefit reductions.

"We ratified this contract because what the county was going to impose was worse, and we didn't have a choice," said Deputy Sheriffs Association spokesman Jim Bickert.

The wage cut will cost a top-step deputy earning $81,504 a year about $2,300. Contra Costa deputies are the lowest-paid among their Bay Area peers.


Advertisement

In exchange for a deal, the county backed away from its demand that deputies pay the full cost of premium increases. Instead, deputies will pay 80 percent of increases in 2012 and 75 percent in 2013.

Other terms include:

  • The formation of a less-expensive pension plan for deputies hired after Dec. 31.

  • New managers in the Sheriff's Department hired after Nov. 1 are ineligible for a perk that allows a worker to exchange unused vacation for cash, but current employees will retain the benefit. Managers will also receive another 24 hours a year in paid administrative leave.

  • Starting in mid-2013, deputies will pay their full share of retirement contributions. Today, the county pays a portion of the worker's share.

    ---