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Mar 18, 2014 8:33 PM by Victoria Fregoso - Q2 News

Contract rejected by Yellowstone County sheriff's deputy union

BILLINGS - A union representing deputies with the Yellowstone County Sheriff's Office have again rejected a new contract with the county.

A vote was made by the union on Monday night and Yellowstone County Commissioners learned about the vote during Tuesday morning's meeting.

The decision came as a surprise.

"It appeared that we had negotiated a settlement on some language," said Commissioner John Ostlund. "The union and our HR director were going to get together and just simply massage the language and bring the contract back to us. We thought everything was moving forward."

The Montana Public Employees Association represents 43 deputies working in the sheriff's office.

They have been negotiating a new contract since June.

County commissioners asked the union to bring back a list of issues related to the contract during next week's meeting.

"We were so close when the mediator was here, I can't imagine there's anything of too much contention out there, so we'll see what they bring back," Ostlund said. "I'm optimistic they'll bring back their proposals and we'll take a look at them and we'll move forward."

There was a vote scheduled to take place at next week's commissioners meeting, but that vote is pending on the union's newest concerns about the contract.

A representative with the union wants to bring in a fact-finder to identify the areas of disagreement.

Darcy Dahle said some of the deputies benefits have been lost while trying to simplify this contract.

"The deputies aren't necessarily trying to get more, they're simply trying to keep things they already have," Dahle said. "They're trying not to lose things they've had for years under the existing contract."

The latest contract included a 5.13 percent increase in deputy compensation.

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