By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO March 15, 2002 Since January 2001, the Sullivan County Sheriff's Deputies PBA has been without a contract. For over a year, the PBA has been negotiating a new contract with the county, but its currently at an impasse.
While both sides wait for a mediator to offer a solution to the problem, the PBA have taken their dispute public with protests, pamphlets and media interviews.
The latest chapter in this dispute took place on Thursday, March 7, at the Legislature's Public Safety Committee meeting. Sullivan County Sheriff Dan Hogue gave the legislators a report on improving safety conditions at the Government Center and other recommendations. One was to raise the deputies' salaries so that the county would not constantly lose them to other police departments.
"We need to keep wages up so they don't leave," Hogue told the legislators. "We train them, and they leave. They are all dedicated. We need to keep them here."
After Hogue, PBA President Ed Clouse addressed the Legislature.
"We would like to sit down with the legislators and have you get to know us as people. I don't think you fully understand the situation or know what we are looking for. We do not have a direct repoire with the legislators."
And he didnt stop there.
"This has been about [Labor Attorney] Jim Romer and his ego. He is not willing to sit down and discuss this. We want to sit down with the legislators," said Clouse.
Legislature Chair Rusty Pomeroy responded, "It is not fair to characterize the problem as Jim Romer's ego. He has a good track record of getting agreements. We are not any happier with the situation than you are."
Pomeroy announced that mediation was set for Tuesday, March 26.
Clouse then accused the county of being unwilling to change. He also pointed out that the arbitration is not binding, as the dispute was sent to arbitration after the governor vetoed a bill that would make arbitration binding.
Pomeroy refused to get into a public debate. He ended the discussion with, "We have been briefed on the situation. We gave direction. We believe this can be resolved and hope it will be finished sooner rather than later."