A months-long contract dispute between the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) and the North Central Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA) is finally poised to come to a close.
In an ACSO press release, the two bargaining teams announced on Thursday they have resolved their issues on the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) and a deal will now go to the deputies for a vote before it is finalized.
“As I have said throughout this process, I was confident we would come to a successful resolution for all involved and we have done that,” ACSO Sheriff Clovis Watson Jr. said in a statement.
The two main sticking points during the negotiations were deputies taking ACSO vehicles home if they lived outside Alachua County and the 2.5% step increase that was supposed to take effect, according to the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA), on Oct. 1, 2021, but was denied by Watson.
“The PBA is pleased that we were able to reach a compromise with the Sheriff that we can present to our members that will offer them fair and equitable benefits comparable to other agencies in the state,” said PBA President Jody Branaman in the press release.
Details of the agreement were not released on Thursday, but Watson sent out a press release on June 24 where he stated that his top priorities included increasing starting wages for deputies, offering a 3% raise for all employees in 2021 instead of the current step plan, and a proposal that would deny take-home vehicles to employees hired after April 28 if they lived outside the county, except under special circumstances, while grandfathering in current employees.
“Hopefully we can put this behind us and go on to other things,” ACSO spokesperson Art Forgey said in a phone interview. He said once this agreement is finalized the ACSO and PBA will start negotiating the new CBA.
Forgey did not give an official date when the vote to approve the agreement will take place but said it will be soon.
“It’ll probably be a couple of weeks,” he said. “They’ll have to get ballots printed up, schedule it, notify all their members. I know that all the school resource deputies are in a conference next week, so it will probably be a couple of weeks before they can bring it to a vote.”