Friday, February 26th, 2016

The Morris County Board of Freeholders this week by a 7-0 vote approved a three-year contract settlement with 65 sheriff’s officers of PBA Local 151, with raises averaging 2 percent annually, far less than a contract negotiated by the Sheriff that offered raises of 8.3 percent a year, or 25 percent over three years, that was rejected in 2015 by the freeholders.

MC

The freeholders also in the past few months have renegotiated two other contracts approved by the sheriff, and rejected by them as excessive, for much fairer terms.

“We have negotiated fair contracts with our employees which are reasonable for our taxpayers, and which the county can actually afford,’’ said Freeholder Doug Cabana, the freeholder board’s liaison on law and public safety issues.

“The PBA 151 negotiating members were extremely professional. The discussions we had were meaningful and productive, with each side respectfully hearing the other side’s positions and leading to a good agreement for both sides.’’

The freeholders in June, 2015, rejected all four contracts negotiated by Sheriff Rochford and have settled three, so far, for far less money. The following is a look at the original contracts, and the re-negotiated terms:

  • Corrections Officers PBA Local 298, originally offered 7.9 percent annually. Renegotiated to 2.16 percent a year, with elimination of lifetime medical benefits for new hires
  • Corrections Officers Superior Union, originally offered 5.3 percent annually. Renegotiated to 2 percent annually.
  • Sheriff’s Officers PBA 151, originally offered 8.3 percent annually. Renegotiated to an average of 2 percent annually.
  • Sheriff’s Civilian Employees’ Association, originally offered 7.3 percent annually. Still not resolved.

The freeholders in rejecting the four labor agreements negotiated by Sheriff Edward Rochford, contended the contracts offered raises far in excess of the county’s ability to afford them. The freeholders said the sheriff knowingly negotiated contracts that far exceed the 2 percent hard cap the county has on potential pay hikes – based on Gov. Christie’s legislatively imposed spending limits.

The county governing board also cited the sheriff’s unwillingness to cooperate with the County Office of Labor Relations, which has historically negotiated all labor contracts for the county.

Kathy DeFillippo

Kathy DeFillippo

“These settlements have allowed us to work within the 2 percent annual budget cap on spending increases that has been imposed by Governor Christie, while getting employees fair raises,’’ added Freeholder Director Kathy DeFillippo. “This shows that the action we took regarding the contracts have restored economic accountability.’’

The freeholder board, in making its decision last summer to take control of the county jail from the Sheriff, cited ongoing fiscal differences with the sheriff, including excessive raises negotiated with corrections unions and huge overtime increases at the jail despite a marked reduction in the number of inmates.

They also cited the sheriff’s unwillingness to cooperate with the County Office of Labor Relations, which has historically negotiated all labor contracts for the county, and with a general lack of communications on many issues.