National Coalition of Public Safety Officers

Dona Ana County Deputies Press Release

After being unable to reach agreement at the bargaining table for the last two years, the Union and the County reached impasse in negotiations. This impasse, unlike many other negotiations, was not about pay increases, which both parties agreed upon. The impasse was reached because of 45 article changes by the employer that included take backs on basic rights in the workplace. In August of this year, Arbitrator Epstein, selected from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, ruled in favor of the Union’s last proposal over the County’s. In the public sector, the arbitrator is restricted in selecting the entire last proposal of one side or the other after hearing testimony and evidence regarding the proposals. Rather than accepting the arbitrator’s decision, the County appealed the arbitrator’s decision to District Court, citing that the arbitrator overstepped his authority in the ruling by forcing the County to reappropriate funds to pay for the provisions in the contract. Judge Martin, in his bench ruling, rejected the argument and ruled that the Union’s proposal be implemented. The County can spend even more funds and appeal Judge Martin’s decision to Appellate Court. Ken Roberts, President of Local 7911, says, “The County claims erroneously that our proposal was $68,000 over their budget. Given the amounts that have been paid to Ms. Holcomb to bargain this contract, unlike previous contracts, and the costs to challenge this in the courts, it appears that the County cares less about the dollars they are spending and more about creating division between the deputies and the county.”
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