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Deal or no deal? Deputies say county’s announcement was premature

PORT ORCHARD — The announcement earlier this week of a tentative agreement between Kitsap County and the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild was apparently premature, according to the guild’s president.

“We haven’t made a decision whether to accept their latest proposal,” Deputy Mike Rodrigue said. “We were surprised to see the county’s press release. It gave the indication that it was a done deal, which is far from the truth.”

But in a statement, county spokeswoman P.J. Ramos said the two parties, along with an assigned state mediator, had reached a compromise regarding the collective bargaining agreement and planned to recommend the deal for adoption.

“The county cannot recall a time the guild has rejected the recommendation of their negotiating team,” Ramos said.

Rodrigue said he did not know if the announcement would affect the members’ vote, adding that it “will not help the working relationship.”

The county press release, issued last Monday, stated that both parties “have reached a tentative agreement on a two-year collective bargaining agreement covering 2006 and 2007.”

It included a quote from Sheriff Steve Boyer, stating, “I am pleased we were able to reach an agreement with the Deputy’s Guild. These men and women are on the front lines working hard for our citizens every day in an extremely stressful job. It is important that they are able to focus on their jobs at hand and work together as a team.”

Rodrigue said the deputies were scheduled to meet Thursday night, at which time union members would present the details of the proposal.

They have until July 7 to ratify the new terms. The results of the secret ballot will be announced on July 10.

All 114 deputies belong to the union. Fifty-eight of these votes would be required to ratify or reject the agreement.

The contract process has been fraught with disagreement since it began last year. Both sides have accused the other of unfair practices, poor communication and using scare tactics.

Ramos said that guild representatives, including their attorney and members of the executive board, have agreed to recommend to their membership that they ratify the contract.

If the guild ratifies the contract, the final agreement will be acted on by the county commissioners during a public meeting process.

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