10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BY DUANE W. GANG
STAFF WRITER
dgang@pe.com

Riverside County has settled a lawsuit with the union representing deputy district attorneys, a move that paves the way for 45 prosecutors to begin receiving pay raises.

The deal applies to prosecutors who were entitled to what are called step increases, pay boosts within their respective job classifications that are linked to their time on the job.

“This is going to be a big help to prosecutors who have taken a bunch of pay cuts,” said Michael Hestrin, vice president of the Riverside County Deputy District Attorneys Association.

County Human Resources Director Barbara Olivier called the settlement fair and said it allows the two sides to move forward with ongoing contract talks.

Typically, deputy district attorneys receive the 5.5 percent raises every six months or one year, based on how long they have worked for the county.

Because of budget constraints, the county had frozen the step increases from September 2009 through June 2010 and again from October 2010 to the present.

During the July-October 2010 window when the increases were unfrozen, 29 prosecutors had their anniversaries with the county and received pay increases, according to the county.

But the association contended an additional 45 prosecutors deserved the raises.

Hestrin said the association “waved a red flag” over the issue last year, but the county did not provide the pay increases.

“The county made us actually go to court,” said Hestrin, a deputy district attorney.

In the lawsuit, filed in January, the association sought to have the step increases retroactively awarded to all deputy district attorneys who normally would have received them during the unfrozen period of time. The group also sought reimbursement of attorney fees.

“In our minds, we had a very strong case,” Hestrin said.

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