Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco sheriff asks for bill to help sheriffs rule on labor negotiation deadlocks

A bill under consideration in Tallahassee, introduced by state Sen. Mike Fasano, seeks to resolve a long-held point of contention between sheriffs and their deputies unions:

Who has the authority to break an impasse in labor negotiations?

State law deems that the County Commission is the "legislative body" with that ultimate authority.

Fasano's bill, introduced at the request of Pasco County Sheriff Bob White, would make the sheriff — as well as other constitutional officers such as the tax collector or property appraiser — the legislative body.

Fasano calls it a matter of good policy.

"We're talking about (constitutional officers) who are elected by the voters of each county, and I absolutely believe that they should have the final say because they are ultimately accountable for the tax dollars that they spend," Fasano said Friday.

Further, he said, the bill is in keeping with other laws governing organized labor.

"When there's an impasse or there's a problem between labor and the county government, where does labor go? They don't go to the sheriff. They go to their legislative body, the County Commission," Fasano said.

But the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents Pasco's road deputies, calls it a power grab and is lining up for a fight.

"We don't feel the sheriff can be two prongs of a three-prong system of government," said James Preston, state FOP president. "You can't bargain and then rule on your own issues."

That's exactly what White did three years ago, when he and the union came to an impasse over issues of discipline and health insurance for retirees. The union dropped the insurance issue, but appealed to the Public Employees Relations Commission in Tallahassee over the discipline matter. The deputies wanted greater appellate rights while White maintained he should retain final say over demotions of one rank.

Before PERC could rule, White assumed the role of the legislative body and ruled on the contract — in his own favor.

The union cried foul again, alleging an unfair labor practice by White with PERC. The agency last year ruled in favor of the union, and the issue is now the subject of an ongoing court case.

White travelled to Tallahassee last week to show support for Fasano's bill, along with numerous other Florida sheriffs.

He said the bill does not unfairly tilt the balance of power toward him in labor negotiations, but instead empowers him to champion deputies' best interests.

"No one will fight for the deputies in Pasco County harder than me. Period," he said.

"The people elected the sheriff to run his office, and the Constitution lays that out for him; that certain sovereignty of that office," White added. "He ought to be able to operate his office and run his office without that interference."

The bill, titled Senate Bill 610, was approved last week by the Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee. House Bill 417, its companion, has seen no movement.

Given the adversarial nature of the past four years' negotiations — with still no labor contract in place — Preston said handing legislative authority to the sheriff is simply unfair to the other side.

"We see it as an attempt to frustrate the deputies, intimidate them so they won't be involved in collective bargaining," he said.

"If the sheriff can rule on every impasse, there's no reason to sit at the table."

Staff writer Erin Sullivan contributed to this report. Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Pasco sheriff asks for bill to help sheriffs rule on labor negotiation deadlocks 02/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, February 20, 2010 1:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Large brush fire burning in Brooker Creek Preserve near Westchase

    Fire

    A large brush fire is burning early Thursday morning in the Brooker Creek Preserve just north of Oldsmar near Westchase, but appears to be contained, according to reports.

  2. Clearwater confronts a new wave of homeless people, many addicted to spice

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Having lived on the streets since 2014, when he said God ordered him to go out and watch over the homeless, Scott Elfstrom has seen new faces brought out by the typical drugs, despair or plain bad luck.

    Clearwater police Sgt. Rodney Johnson talks to a group of homeless people near the Clearwater Police Department. Johnson has worked to decrease the amount of spice being used in the homeless population.
  3. Preservation group's efforts help revitalize Hudson Cemetery

    Human Interest

    HUDSON — Since the 1970s, the area's unhoused could count on Hudson Cemetery as a place to eat, drink and doze. They would crouch behind bushes on the 2 acres — sandwiched between an ABC liquor store and a shopping center — and leave behind beer cans, cigarette butts and rotting clothes. They would …

    Dennis Kingsley, former president of the Hudson Cemetery Preservation Association, looks at recently cleaned headstones at the cemetery. It got a new fence and was cleared of weeds and brush in June.
  4. Adam Putnam
  5. Forecast: Summertime heat, late-day showers soldier on in Tampa Bay

    Weather

    The summertime pattern of hot temperatures and afternoon showers continues through the second half of the week across Tampa Bay.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]