Bedford sheriff’s office union, county heading to arbitration

BEDFORD – While Bedford County commissioners approved one of three key union contracts Tuesday, unsuccessful negotiations with another county union have moved to arbitration.

On Tuesday, the two commissioners present approved a three-year contract including small pay increases for members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which primarily represents county jail staff. Workers are set for a 1 percent increase this year, 2 percent next year and 2 percent in 2016, Commissioner Chairman Kirt Morris said.

Negotiations with the Bedford County Court Related Employees Union, which represents sheriff’s office staff, will enter arbitration after contract proposals couldn’t be reconciled, he said.

A union representative said via a sheriff’s deputy that officers couldn’t comment on a contract under arbitration.

Morris said the sheriff’s office union proposal included longevity, training and cost-of-living raises that, when combined, would represent untenably large wage hikes for some employees.

“Their requests were a lot higher than the other two unions,” he said. “It ends up being [an] 8, 9 percent [increase].”

Negotiations with the third county union, a Service Employees International Union-affiliated local representing court staff, have gone well and will likely result in a final contract’s passage soon, Morris said.

Morris declined to comment on the record on possible wage increases for the county’s nonunion staff.

“Currently not,” he said of changes, though he didn’t rule out the possibility.

Regional representatives for AFSCME, the union representing jail staff, did not return a message seeking comment.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.