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Steuben County, Deputies Union locked in contract dispute

The contract dispute between the Deputies Association of the County of Steuben and Steuben County management has been ongoing since January 1, 2021, with no resolution in sight.

The New York State Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) recently issued an arbitration decision regarding the dispute. The Deputies Association, which comprises 36 sworn law enforcement officers, has been negotiating with the county management but has failed to reach an agreement, leading to mediation and arbitration through PERB.

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The PERB-assigned independent arbitrator ruled on the dispute, covering the years 2021 and 2022. However, the Deputies Association claims that Steuben County has not implemented the pay increase mandated by the arbitrator’s award. In response, the Deputies Association expressed their discontent in a letter, stating that the county management’s actions are “unjust, unfair, and not fiscally responsible,” especially considering the public safety crisis locally and nationally.

On the other hand, Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler described the situation as “unprecedented” in New York State labor relations. According to Wheeler, the county attempted to negotiate with the Deputies Association, offering wage increases of 16.2% over three years, which were rejected. He also mentioned that the majority decision of the arbitration panel, which included a member from the Deputies Association, exceeded the amounts requested during arbitration. The county is currently reviewing the decision with its labor counsel. Wheeler emphasized the county’s respect for the Deputies Association and expressed hope for an amicable resolution soon.