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BELLEVILLE > Deal set to put deputies back to work

BELLEVILLE > Deal set to put deputies back to work

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Eight St. Clair County sheriff's deputies laid off since January are expected to return to work following a tentative resolution of a contract dispute.

Deputies represented by the Fraternal Order of Police voted Thursday morning to accept an offer presented by County Board Chairman Mark Kern, Sheriff Mearl Justus and State's Attorney Brendan Kelly at a meeting Wednesday. The agreement still must be approved by the County Board, which will meet Monday. The deputies would return to work seven days after board approval.

"I am very pleased the bargaining unit members voted to accept our offer this morning," Kern said. "I believe it is fair for both sides and allows for the return of previous deputy sheriff levels, which is what our citizens need and want."

Under the agreement, deputies would get no pay increase in 2012, a 1.25 percent increase in 2013 and a 2.25 percent increase in 2014. Deputies would get no pay or benefits for the time they were off.

In November, an arbitrator found that the county's deputies were underpaid compared with those in other area departments. He awarded them a 9.5 percent pay raise over the years 2009-11. County officials said the pay hikes would mean layoffs. Thirteen patrol officers were laid off after deputies rejected an alternative offer in January. The other laid-off deputies had previously been recalled.

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