Contract talks with Hancock sheriff’s deputies at standstill

Talks between the county and the union representing Hancock County’s sheriff’s deputies are at a standstill.

About 35 members of the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association have been working without a contract since March 8, according to a fact finding report released by by the State Employment Relations Board on July 2. The Courier received the report Monday.

Negotiators sought an opinion from the employment relations board in June, after talks reached an impasse. The two sides can’t agree on pay raises or health insurance premiums.

The fact-finder advised negotiators to compromise on both issues; however, the union rejected the findings in a vote held June 30.

Sheriff Michael Heldman said binding arbitration is now being sought in the talks.

The union is seeking a 4 percent raise in each year of the three-year contract. The county is offering a 1.75 percent raise in each year of the contract. The fact-finder recommended raises of 2.25 percent this year, 2.5 percent in 2015 and 2.75 percent in 2016.

The fact-finder also recommended that the employee share of the health insurance be increased 1 percent in each of the next three years until the contribution reaches 20 percent of the premium. The union is arguing against any increase in its members’ share of the premium; however, the sheriff’s office contends that 20 percent reasonable.

Courier reporter Denise Grant is working to develop this story.

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