Tuesday, January 18, 2011 – 03:30 p.m.

Sources at the County of San Bernardino say a labor showdown is brewing.

A showdown which is likely to stir political waters over the next year or even longer.

The contract between the County and the Safety and Safety Management & Supervisory Units represented by the San Bernardino County Safety Employees’ Benefit Association (SEBA) expires March 9, 2012.

The affected members are slated to receive a salary adjustment of 2.0% this July.

The last adjustment in the collective bargaining agreement and likely the precursor to a fight.

The union, representing over 3,300 active and retired county employees goes back to the bargaining table this fall for what is likely to be an all out war with Chief Executive Greg Devereaux.

Devereaux, a man who knows how to play hardball with employee groups, wants blood over the SEBA refusal to approve economic concessions last summer and he’s actively lobbying individual supervisors for their support.

Devereaux is out to fill a $137 million budget hole for the 2011-12 fiscal year and he aims to make sheriff’s deputies help fill a substantial part of that void.

SEBA is also a heavy donor to county supervisors and enjoys support of at least four of five members of the Board of Supervisors.

The dispute at hand wouldn’t be so pressing except that a section of the current agreement appears to have been deleted.

What is customarily referred to as an “evergreen clause” is a standard contract provision requiring the continuation of all terms and conditions of the existing agreement for one additional year should a successor contract not be reached.

I could have missed it. But the section doesn’t appear to be there.

So instead all current wage and benefit levels remaining in place until March 9, 2013, reductions may be unilaterally imposed on the aforementioned units by the county after March 9, 2012.

Stay tuned.