Largely retroactive contract agreement boosts jail workers’ pay

EVERETT — Snohomish County has agreed to a new contract with its jail employees, capping a series of negotiations with other employee groups.

The raise for county corrections officers comes with a price tag of about $1.3 million over three years.

Managers and corrections deputies are bound to be back at the bargaining table soon to talk about pay and benefits, as the largely retroactive agreement starts at the beginning of 2015 and is set to expire at the end of this year.

The contract covers about 235 employees with the Snohomish County Corrections Guild. The County Council authorized it Wednesday with a 4-0 vote. The contract approval follows a state arbitration ruling in March.

“On the main issues, the guild was pretty satisfied with the outcome,” said Christopher Casillas, an attorney with Seattle firm Cline &Casillas who represented the guild.

Arbitrator Michael Cavanaugh sided with their request for a 3 percent annual raise, over county management’s insistence on 2 percent. Cavanaugh also agreed that the guild should contribute a smaller amount toward any increases in health coverage.

The arbitrator, however, rejected other guild demands, such as a $150 yearly allowance to buy work boots or letting corrections officers carry personal cellphones inside the jail where they are at risk of being stolen by inmates.

The county now has current contracts with its largest labor groups. Three other major contracts also start Jan. 1, 2015, but run a year longer, through 2018.

In February, the county approved a four-year contract with the Deputy Sheriff’s Association. Deputies received raises of 3.25 percent and 3 percent, respectively, for years one and two of the contract. Pay hikes in the final two years depend on the Consumer Price Index.

In mid-2016, county clerks agreed to a new four-year contract. They had staged a walk-out a few months earlier over compensation. They received a 2 percent cost-of-living raise for the first two years and 2.5 percent for the final two years.

The county’s largest public sector union inked an agreement in March 2016. More than half of the county’s 2,800 employees belong to the AFSCME-affiliated Washington State Council of County and City Employees. They received the same 2 percent to 2.5 percent raises as the clerks.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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