King County deputies vote on cutting pay

Dec 7, 2010

As King County makes massive cuts to help balance its budget, the union representing King County sheriff’s deputies has, for months, refused to consider a wage freeze next year.  Even as other unions in the county have agreed to do so.  But deputies are voting on a proposal to reduce their upcoming pay increase. 

The wage concession is contingent on the county laying off no deputies in 2011.  The Seattle Times reports the mail balloting by some 700 deputies will be tallied by the end of this week.  A spokesman for County Executive Dow Constantine said they’re waiting to hear the proposal, which was written by the deputies’ union.  Constantine's spokesman Frank Abe told The Seattle Times:

"We're pleased that they're willing to reassess their situation and we're waiting to hear their proposal,"

Until now, the King County Police Officers Guild has refused to accept Constantine's request that it give up a previously negotiated 5 percent pay increase to save deputies' jobs and maintain police services outside cities. 

Sheriff Sue Rahr has said  that cuts to her department's budget would force her to lay off 18 deputies, keep 40 vacant positions unfilled, and end most investigations of burglaries, car prowls, auto thefts and fraud.

The Police Officers Guild, the only large union to reject Constantine's request for a pay freeze, claimed in a full-page ad in The Seattle Times last month the county had adequate revenue to maintain the sheriff's budget but refused to do so.

Ninety-one percent of unionized workers agreed to a pay freeze, and wages of nonunion workers have been frozen, according to Constantine's office.