10:00 PM PDT on Friday, May 20, 2011

By DUANE W. GANG
The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County declared in impasse Friday in its contract talks with the Riverside Sheriff’s Association.

The declaration means the two sides could not reach an agreement on a new labor contract. It is the first step before supervisors impose pay cuts and pension changes on the union, which represents more than 2,000 deputies and other public-safety employees.

County Human Resources Director Barbara Olivier said the decision came after five months of negotiations. The county will impose terms until the “union indicates a desire to resume negotiations for a mutual agreement,” Olivier said by email.

The sheriff’s association has vowed to challenge the move.

“Not since 1980 has a Board of Supervisors in our county imposed conditions on their deputies,” sheriff’s association President Pat McNamara said by email. “We believe this is to be indicative of the profound lack of leadership that currently exists in our county government.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Buster said by phone that the terms in the county’s final and best offer will take effect for up to one year. Those include a 10 percent reduction in overall compensation — about half through salary and half through increases in employees’ contributions to their retirement, he said.

The terms also include a second tier of lower pension benefits for newly hired employees, Buster said.

“I would much rather keep a deputy on the street than continue to pay excessive pension costs,” he said.

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