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Shasta County and correctional officers, sheriff’s union fail to reach agreement on new contract

 A large sandstone colored building, with concrete retaining walls and stairs in front. There are palm trees, vines around. And a tall clock-tower in the middle of the building
Shasta County
The Shasta County Board of Supervisors building in Redding, Calif.

Shasta County has failed to reach an agreement on a new contract with the local union representing sheriff’s deputies and correctional officers. The union says low wages are creating a staffing shortage in the county jail.

This is the second time in 2023 that Shasta County hasn’t been able to come to an agreement with one of its unions. The county and the union, known as the DSA-CO, were unable to agree on a cost of living increase.

During a county supervisors meeting Tuesday, union representative John Reese said money has been the clear reason correctional officers keep leaving their jobs.

“People are not willing to work in that atmosphere that they have right now for what they’re getting paid,” said Reese.

Reese said two state laws passed in 2011 that moved inmates from state prisons to county jails have created a more difficult work-environment for employees.

But, the county board of supervisors voted unanimously to impose their offer on the union, which includes a 7% cost of living raise, among other benefit adjustments. That’s less than half of the 18% pay increase the union sought.

“We unfortunately feel that there’s gonna be another section of the jail shut down because they just do not have the manpower to keep it running the way they are,” Reese said.

Reese said the county is currently working on expanding the jail, and without better pay, it’s going to be difficult to staff.

“The county also desires to retain employees and is dedicated to ensuring safe operations,” said Assistant Personnel Director Monica Fugitt. “However, our proposals are aimed to offer improvements while also being fiscally conservative.”

Unlike the largest county employee union – UPEC general local 792 – which went on strike for over two weeks last month to seek better wages, Reese did not mention the possibility of a strike.

After graduating from Oregon State University, Roman came to JPR as part of the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism in 2019. He then joined Delaware Public Media as a Report For America fellow before returning to the west coast.