By Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/13/2011 06:59:46 PM PST

A group of San Bernardino County public safety employees, including probation officers and district attorney’s investigators, face a 14 percent cut in pay and benefits unless they agree to a previous proposal by the county.

On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2, with Brad Mitzelfelt and Neil Derry dissenting, to cut by 7 percent the salaries of probation officers, district attorney’s investigators, coroner’s investigators and welfare fraud investigators.

The employees comprise the Specialized Peace Officer Unit of the San Bernardino County Safety Employee Benefit Association, or SEBA, the union representing the county’s law-enforcement employees.

Tuesday’s action also calls for the elimination of a 7 percent county pickup of employees’ share of retirement contributions, elimination of take-home vehicles, caps on holiday leave time and a reduction of salary step increases – annual merit raises – from 5 percent to 2.5 percent.

In addition, members of the bargaining unit would also see their flexible benefits plan disappear and be replaced with a nonflexible medical premium subsidy.

The 368-member unit has been in negotiations with the county since February. Members have rejected three proposals brought to them by their labor negotiators, the last being on June 30.

Tuesday’s action by the board is tentative until 5 p.m. Dec. 22. That’s when county Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux has given the unit to formally agree to the June 30 proposal by the appointed arbitrator. If the unit does not sign the agreement, Tuesday’s proposal, which is officially the county’s “last, best and final offer” to the unit before it went into arbitration, will be implemented.

“The county really didn’t have any choice here. The county has to move forward, otherwise there would be layoffs in public safety,” county spokesman David Wert said. “Someone has to make a decision and get things moving, and that’s what happened today.”

Members of the unit, mainly probation officers, showed up at Tuesday’s board meeting to oppose the move.

Michael Eagleson, chief of labor negotiations for SEBA, pleaded with the board to allow negotiations to continue.

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