County settles easily with deputy union

New three-year labor contract negotiated
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For the first time in recent memory, Shawano County has negotiated a new contract with its sheriff’s deputy union with time to spare.

Both sides said the negotiations were cordial and smooth, resulting in a tentative three-year deal long before the current contract expires on Dec. 31.

The Shawano County Deputy Sheriffs Association represents more than 30 employees in the sheriff’s department, including deputies, detectives and sergeants.

Details of the proposed new contract were not available because the deal has not yet been ratified by either the union membership or the county board.

Representatives of both sides, however, voiced satisfaction that they were able to find common ground for the benefit of county residents without any contentious negotiations.

County Administrator Brent Miller said union leaders showed an understanding of the county’s financial issues and the mandates imposed under state law.

“I will tell you the union is reasonable,” Miller said. “They are professional and courteous in negotiations.”

Union President Troy Ugoretz was likewise complimentary of the county administrator, saying that Miller helped to pave the way to a relatively easy settlement. Ugoretz said he could not recall another contract negotiation that succeeded so quickly.

“This one was the easiest,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of game-playing by either side.”

Union members are continuing to vote on ratification, while the county board finance committee is scheduled to consider the contract on Monday.

Getting the union deal resolved this early would relieve county officials of unanswered questions as they work on assembling the county’s budget for 2018. The current budget is about $51 million, including $6 million for the sheriff’s department.

In the past, negotiations with the sheriff’s deputy union have frequently dragged out past the expiration date for the previous contract. A pay raise approved in 2012, for example, required the county to compensate union members retroactively for several months.

The current contract covered the years 2014-2017, while the new deal will continue through 2020.

Ugoretz said he is pleased with provisions of the new contract, and he believes both sides feel good about how it turned out.

“We weren’t asking for the moon,” he said, “and the county wasn’t asking us to give up the moon.”