County calls deputy guild ‘unfair’

The Kitsap County commissioners have authorized the filing of an unfair labor practice charge against the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild.

The action took guild members by surprise, according to its leadership.

After meeting in executive session on Monday, Central Kitsap Commissioner Patty Lent said the motion was “necessary to resolve disputes arising between the county and the guild in a proper forum and to ensure these issues do not confuse and delay bargaining for a new contract.”

“The guild has avoided its responsibility to bargain in good faith,” said Kitsap County Labor Relations Manager Rob Gudmundson. “It has delayed negotiations and has not agreed to meet on a regular basis. We have only met once since November and they have not gotten back to us on scheduled meeting dates.”

The commissioners have instructed the prosecuting attorney to file a claim with the Washington State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC), which has the authority to order parties to honor their legal duty to bargain in good faith and to cease and desist from refusing to bargain.

The county is claiming that the guild has canceled bargaining sessions unilaterally, refused to confirm agreed-upon bargaining dates, used requests for information to delay rather than advance negotiations and made unreasonable informational demands.

The guild, for its part, feels it has bargained in good faith. Guild president Detective Mike Rodrigue said recent negotiations have been supervised by a PERC-authorized mediator.

”We have not heard from the mediator that we are doing anything inappropriate,” he said. “We do not agree with the latest proposal, but that doesn’t represent a refusal to meet with them.”

Rodrigue said the guild requested medical benefit rates beginning in June. The county has accused the guild of not giving it enough time to gather information.

In a press release, the county maintains the guild has refused to meet and bargain, and has refused to agree to any settlement that did not compensate the guild’s members for the costs incurred by them as a result of their own delay tactics.

After reading the press release, Rodrigue said, “I’m not sure what to say or even where to begin. I have no idea why Mr. Gudmundson is doing this. Maybe it’s a scare tactic.”

The county expected to file the action on Monday. PERC will allow the guild to respond.

If the county’s allegations are found to have merit the case will appear in front of a hearing examiner, who may award a penalty to one side or the other, according to Gudmundson.

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