Josh Dulaney, Staff Writer
Posted: 09/05/2012 04:07:29 PM PDT

One of the county’s largest public labor unionshas voted to approve a new contract that requires its members – sheriff’s deputies and district attorney’s investigators – to absorb a range of concessions, ending a year of exhaustive negotiations with the county.

Members of the Safety Unit of the San Bernardino County Safety Employees Benefit Association, or SEBA, voted 681-91 Wednesday to approve the county’s concession offers, which include taking up the 4.72 percent the county currently pays into their retirement plans, and cutting back raises based on length of employment from 5 to 2.5 percent.

They averted an impasse with the county Board of Supervisors, which could have imposed the concessions, in addition to its June 7 “last, best and final” offer, which would have included a 4 percent pay cut and the elimination of comp time.

The overwhelming pro-concessions vote comes in the midst of brutal economic times for local governments, and a growing trend to lay the blame at the feet of public employee unions, and the salaries and pensions they won in brighter economic days.

“We know what’s happening everywhere,” said SEBA President LarenLeichliter. “We’ve always looked for ways to help. This was the logical step in helping everyone.”

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