The Stand

Sheriff blocks deputies’ access to union reps at county jail

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Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond set out to block corrections officers from “squealing” to their union. An arbitrator ruled he was violating their contract, but he refuses to back down, instead vowing a costly legal battle.

 

PASCO, Wash. (March 2, 2022) — Last fall, Franklin County Sheriff Jim Raymond decided to unilaterally block union representatives of his Corrections Deputies from access to the Franklin County Jail. An arbitrator recently ruled that he was violating the deputies’ contract and ordered those restrictions lifted, but Raymond refused. Instead, he has vowed to wage a costly legal battle over the issue in court, declaring that “the prosecutor, arbitrators or teamster (sic) is not going to get their meat hooks into me on this topic.”

On Feb. 18, Arbitrator Robin A. Romeo ruled that Raymond violated the rights of Corrections Deputies in the Franklin County Jail by not allowing their Union Representative access to the employees’ workplace, the county jail. By denying his employees this basic right agreed to under the collective bargaining agreement, the arbitrator ruled that Raymond violated both the contract and a long-standing established past practice.

Raymond was so opposed to his Corrections Officers having access to their Union Representative when they have a workplace issue, he was quoted in the arbitrator’s decision as saying: “corrections deputies squealing to their Union Rep is coming to an end.”

The Corrections Officers’ union, Teamsters Local Union No. 839, filed a grievance to restore their ability to properly represent their members.

“Work site visits are important to maintain safety in the workplace and to ensure that the Sheriff’s Office is not violating the current contract,” said Jesus Alvarez, Jr., Business Agent for Teamsters 839.

Teamsters 839 Secretary-Treasurer Russell Shjerven said, “This is another example of how the unparalleled autonomy and lack of accountability the Sheriff enjoys has gone to his head and the safety and security of our Corrections Deputies gets compromised.”

Instead of abiding by the arbitrator’s ruling, Sheriff Raymond has ignored it and vowed to fight the matter in court. In an email response to a union request for more information, Raymond wrote, “My directive and orders stand. See ya all in superior court.”

Founded in 1950, Teamsters Local Union No. 839 represents more than 2,000 working men and women in Southeast Washington. For more information, visit Teamsters839.org.

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