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Split again? 

On April 7, SLO County supervisors unanimously threw their support behind SB 490, a bill that would pave the way for county correctional officers to get a new classification. That vote could be the first step in a much more significant change for the union, the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association.

If the bill passes, it gives county officials the opportunity to reclassify correctional officers as custodial deputy sheriffs. The new classification allows such officers “enhanced powers,” according to the legislation, such as the ability to carry a concealed weapon and issue warrants. It could also mean more pay and better benefits.

Meanwhile the association leadership and the union as a whole could soon be split. Members of the union submitted a petition to the county to split the union and create a new group made up of county deputy sheriffs under new leadership. The leftover group of correction workers and non-sworn Sheriff’s Department employees would remain unchanged.

That petition was approved by the county, but then appealed by the current association leadership: Dale Strobridge and Tony Perry. A state mediator will now handle the split.

So what effect could a reclassification have? Assistant County Administrator Gail Wilcox said SB 490 has no effect on the split and if correctional officers are reclassified it perhaps wouldn’t be for a year. But a new classification could allow correctional officers to stay with the association if the split goes through.

At the April 7 meeting, no one addressed the union split and instead focused on what a reclassification could mean financially. After reclassifying, the next logical step would be higher pay and benefits, supervisors worried.by co

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