Athens County Commissioners Want Meeting With Sheriff On Labor Contract

By
Steve Robb - Athens Messenger staff reporter


Updated Fri, Feb 28, 2014 10:45 am

The Athens County Commissioners want to talk with Sheriff Patrick Kelly about a proposed labor contract before considering its approval.

On Thursday, Kelly emailed the commissioners asking why they tabled a proposed contract with the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association that covers the ranks of sergeant and above, although the office does not have sergeants under its current structure. There are lieutenants and a captain.

"Please provide me, and members of the OPBA affected, an explanation for tabling this contract," Kelly wrote.

Commission President Lenny Eliason responded that the commissioners want Kelly to come to a commissioners meeting.

"You should get on our agenda to discuss the changes," Eliason wrote, "so we have an understanding of the reasons for them and the implications of them."

Eliason said the proposed contract was sent to the commissioners two weeks ago, but Kelly did not keep the commissioners apprised of the status of the negotiations while they were under way. Eliason said Kelly "absolutely" should have done so, and has updated the commissioners during past negotiations.

Kelly disputed that, and said he's just following the same process as in the past.

"I negotiate for the sheriff's office. I negotiate with the union," Kelly said, adding that he, like the union, has an attorney involved.

According to Eliason, it's important for the commissioners to know what's going on during negotiations because a contract for one agency can affect the negotiation of other labor contracts.

As for getting on the agenda of a commissioners meeting, Kelly said he first wants to know the commissioners' concerns.

"I don't know what they want to discuss," Kelly said. "He (Eliason) needs to let me know what the issues are before I come over."

Kelly also indicated he might let his labor attorney handle it.

The sheriff said he will send the commissioners a letter asking their concerns.

Most of the proposed three-year contract is unchanged from the prior agreement, although there are some differences. For example, an employee who is promoted to the rank of lieutenant or above would serve a six-month probationary period instead of a year. Language is added that says bargaining unit employees can only be laid off for "reasons of economy and/or efficiency, including a re-organization for more efficiency."

There also is some different language on calculating wages, as well as other changes.

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