Oxford County, union re-enter negotiations over deputies contract

by Peter McGuire, Staff Writer Sun Journal Nov. 28, 2013

PARIS — Contract talks between Oxford County commissioners and the union representing Oxford County Sheriff's deputies reopened Monday, after a lengthy lapse in negotiations between the two sides. 

The labor contract for deputies, corporals and sergeants in the Oxford County Sheriff's Office expired in December 2011. The union and the commissioners have been sparring over a new agreement ever since. 

In August, members of the union overwhelmingly voted to disband the Oxford County Deputies Association and join Teamsters Union Local 340.

At the time, outgoing association President Joshua Wyman said the in-house union, which had represented deputies for at least 15 years, had reached the limit of what it could accomplish in negotiations with the commissioners. 

In an interview in August, Wyman said wages were a main sticking point for the deputies. At the time, he argued that Oxford County deputies are some of the lowest paid in the state. 

County Administrator Scott Cole said at the time that commissioners included deputies' wages in an entire benefits package he described as "highly competitive."

On Tuesday, Teamsters Business Agent Ray Cote said commissioners and the union have agreed not to speak to the media about details of negotiations. 

Although negotiators from the Teamsters and representatives from the commission have met many other times to discuss issues surrounding the contract, Monday's meeting was the first official negotiations between the two parties, Cote said. 

"I feel things went well last night and I look forward to more negotiations in the future with them," Cote said. 

Cote also represents the Biddeford and Kittery Police Departments and Teamsters Local 340 represents other law enforcement agencies in Maine. 

On Tuesday, Cole said the county has been honoring the contract with the deputies since it expired in 2011.