Negotiators have agreed on a three-year deal for Yellowstone County Sheriff's deputies that will include a 5.13 percent wage increase for the current year.
The agreement must still be approved by the 43 sheriff's deputies and then by the Yellowstone County Board of Commissioners. Those votes are expected next week and the week following.
The proposed deal will run through June 30, 2016.
"It's been a long time coming," Sheriff Mike Linder said Thursday afternoon minutes after the tentative agreement had been struck between the county and the Montana Public Employees Association, which represents the deputies.
"A lot of headway was made. It will be good for the deputies and good for the county."
“It’s a good settlement, the result of a lot of hard work,” said Darcy Dahle, field representative for the MPEA.
Dahle said she’s “very hopeful” the tentative agreement will be ratified by deputies and, after that, by the commissioners.
The tentative agreement means that Sara Adler, a professional mediator from Los Angeles who in January made a fact-finding trip to Billings, can cancel her second trip, which was scheduled for Monday.
Linder said the agreement includes language on compensatory time and how it will be tracked as well as training issues for supervisors and deputy call-backs.
Commissioner John Ostlund said he believes that everyone involved is “happy to put this behind us. There were some minor language issues that have been resolved.”
Ostlund said he told negotiators he would support the agreement, “and I will keep my word and vote for it” when it comes before the board if and when deputies approve the pact.
“I’m glad it’s resolved,” he said. “I appreciate Darcy coming to the table before the fact-finder comes back. It’s a win for both sides.”
Commissioner Bill Kennedy said he was "thrilled" to have support from his fellow commissioners on the tentative agreement. "I hope we will have it by next Tuesday," he said. "I will support the agreement because it's time to bring this to a close. This has gone on too long, and I'm thrilled to see it come to a close."
The previous two-year contract expired in June but remained in effect during negotiations. Contract talks began in June 2013.