Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty requested the board of supervisors on March 7 to consider opening union contracts for negotiations in order to raise wages of county employees — whether they are in the union or not — which he hopes will retain workers not only in his department but in every department.
“I believe in recruiting good people but I believe even more in retaining our employees. I’ve lost six jail staff in the last few months. They like working here but their main reason is pay,” he said. “Again, money isn’t everything. But I think with the current events I would ask the board respectfully consider that option.”
The sheriff made the request during the public comment portion of the board of supervisors meeting, and he did so without asking for an answer.
There are many county employees who are not union members but are affected by the union contracts. The unions signed a five-year contract, and there are about two years left until it expires. Costs for nearly everything have increased substantially, which prompted Halferty to make his request in the first place.
Newton News followed up with Halferty in a phone interview.
“I just simply asked them to consider adding or increasing whatever that annual agreement was, but they would have to open the union contracts and negotiate with the union to do that,” Halferty said. “But it was for all county employees. I was referencing the jail because I had lost a few jailers.”
Three full-time jailers and three part-time jailers have left the sheriff’s office. Halferty said all of them were taking jobs that paid higher wages, but they were not dissatisfied with the job they had in Jasper County. With Jasper’s proximity to the metro in Polk County, Halferty said the county has to stay competitive.
“I think it is important to retain my employees, and we want to be competitive in our wages in order to keep those employees,” Halferty said.