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Sheriff responds to Union correspondence

June 20, 2012
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

To the editor:

It has come to my attention that many or all of you received correspondence today from an attorney representing the IUPA Union. As you may recall, two groups of members at my office voted about a year ago to segregate themselves from the agency in terms of negotiating (aka collective bargaining) their salary, benefits, working conditions, etc. In doing so, they invoked the "status quo doctrine" which basically means that everything freezes for them until such time as they negotiate a contract.

Early on, IUPA used "status quo" to impede my effort to initiate a physical fitness standard for Deputies, and they also employed "status quo" to thwart a new promotional testing process for Sergeants. In other wordsthey stringently opposed any changes until such time as they are able to secure a contract.

Fast forward to my decision to issue a one-time bonus check in the coming months. This money is already in the current budgeta budget that marked the third consecutive year of reductions, and this money does not affect next year's budget which represents a reduction in four years of $21.5 million dollars. This money also represents "recapture dollars" that I have saved via smart, fiscal management of vacant positions that resulted from last year's "buyout" of senior personnel.

After three consecutive years without salary increases for my team and following the BOCC's decision last year to increase the salary of the Lee County Port Authority Police, I decided to offer a bonus this year instead of returning the dollars I saved. Legally and based on the principal of the IUPA's self imposed "status quo," it would be wrong and is in fact against my legal advice to extend the bonus to the Union members the members that voted to segregate themselves from the rest of the agency.

One thing noticeably absent in the Union attorney's propaganda he sent to you is any citation of law or legal precedent calling my decision into question or threatening to reverse my decision.

Another thing noticeably absent was the fact that the Sergeant's Union is currently in the process of decertifying IUPA and that vote will be tallied on July 17. While I am not about to predict that outcome, suffice it to say that the very fact it is taking place should be a clue for you. The law states that the members must wait one year after voting a Union in before they can move to vote it out. It is not coincidence that the Sergeant's Union just recently turned one-year old. Only time will tell what the Deputies decide when their Union celebrates its first birthday.

Whatever you do, always remember that no matter how thin you slice the ham there will always be two sides.

Sheriff Mike Scott

Lee County Sheriff's Office



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