The Press Newspaper
Possible health insurance premium hikes are the sticking point in the pending contract for Ottawa County sheriff’s deputies and detectives.
The Ottawa County commissioners last month rejected a fact-finders report affecting the 62 department staffers, according to commissioners’ records.
“I think the biggest issue for them is health insurance premiums,” Sheriff Steve Levorchick said.
He could not give specifics on what deputies’ pay now for health insurance or what the county proposed to change.
However, increased rates fall in line with county protocol in recent months.
County commissioners agreed in October to increase health insurance premiums for the non-union workers.
As of Jan. 1, 2012, the county portion of a single policy will be $504.69 per month and the employee portion $42 per month, according to county commissioners’ minutes. The county portion of a family policy will be $1,186.31 and the employee share $99 per month.
In that October resolution, commissioners noted the board of health, board of developmental disabilities and bargaining units shall have their employee share determined by their individual boards and union contracts.
But deputies under the contract umbrella were paying more for health insurance last year considering they didn’t get raises the past two years, said union representative Jackie Wegman of the Fraternal Order of Police in Columbus. Raises aren’t included in the new contract either.
“The report was not very clear about the health care part,” Wegman said Monday afternoon of the fact-finding report regarding possible increases. “Since then we have received some clarification and I would like to sit down and talk with them about it and see where we go from here. I planned to call them today.”
If that fails, the proposed contract goes to conciliation. In that case, an arbitrator comes in, reviews both sides and determines the contract issues. The decision is binding, the sheriff said.
“I’d like to avoid that. When an arbitrator comes in, nobody wins,” Wegman added.
Deputies and detectives cannot strike while their contract remains unresolved. “Police officers are among the non-striking units of the state,” the representative said.