Teamster 385 Business Agent Bob Walker: Volusia County 'being stingy' with under-paid deputies

Bob Walket Teamsters 385 Business Agent with VCSO deputies / Headline Surfer®Headline Surfer® video and photos /
Teamsters 385 Business Agent Bob Walker, shown at far right in purple shirt is joined at the negotiating table by Volusia County Sheriff's Sgt. Brodie Hughes and Teamsters attorney Joel Blitch of Orlando. Video: Walker is interviewed by Publisher Henry Frederick during a mid-afternoon break in negotiations between the Teamsters and Volusia County. Because there were more than a hundred rank-and-file deputies and sergeants in attendance it was difficult to conduct the interview because of the volume of talking in the meeting room on the second floor of the former historic Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand. Walker believes Sheriff Ben Johnson, shown below could be the key in convincing the Volusia County Council to do right by the deputies and sergeants who put their lives on the line every shift they work to serve and protect.

Volusia County Sheriff Ben JohnsonDELAND, Fla. -- Asked how Volusia County's 430-plus deputies and sergeants can live on meager wage increases like the 2 percent given in 2013 with this year's election cycle in mind, Teamsters 385 Business Agent Bob Walker was frank in answering the question: "They can't."

Headline Surfer® spoke with Walker during a mid-afternoon break Friday in a bargaining session, the second this month in a standing-room-only annex on the second-floor of the former historic Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand.

Despite the two bargaining sessions in the past couple of weeks between the Teamsters which represents the rank-and-file sworn personnel in the Volusia County Sheriff's Office, namely deputies and sergeants in the Volusia Sheriff's Office, Walker said he believes the county has the money, but is just "being stingy."

During  break in talks Friday, Walker sat down with Headline Surfer for a brief interview and was asked his impression on how the talks were progressing.

At that point there was no raise on the table, but after management returned from the break, its team offered a pay raise of 3.5 percent, which the union said was not enough.

Walker declined to say how much was enough  saying the bargaining unit is weighing its options.

The County Council in a 6-1 vote in approving the fiscal budget for the current year included a 2 percent raise for all county employees, after three years without a raise. The VCSO employees were included.

The union's bargaining representatives claim Volusia County deputies are ranked 180th in Florida in salaries and that deputies here make considerably less than their counterparts in rural and much smaller Flagler County.

Wall to wall deputies at contract talks in DeLand / Headline Surfer®More than a hundred uniformed deputies and seargeants and a handful of plain-clothes investigators with the Volusia County Sheriff's Office -- nearly one-fourth the entire force -- sit in on contract negotiations Friday wall to wall behind the negotriating table on the second floor meeting room in the former historic Volusia County Courthouse in DeLand.

Walker, a former Daytona Beach homicide detective and former acting Oak Hill police chief, said he was making a prediction that if the deputies do receive adequate raises, it will be because of the positive influence of Sheriff Ben Johnson.

Walker, a former Daytona Beach homicide detective and former acting Oak Hill police chief, said he was making a prediction that if the deputies do receive adequate raises, it will be because of the positive influence of Sheriff Ben Johnson. 

The sheriff was out of state on unrelated business. Deputy Sheriff Mike Coffin, a member of the county management team in negotiations said the two sides remain far apart on negotiations for a new contract.

Teamsters 385 logo / Headline Surfer®FAST FACTS: Teamsters 385

Robert Walker, Teamsters 385 Business Agent / Headline Surfer®Teamsters 385 Busness Agent: Robert "Bob" Walker, retired Daytona Beach homicide detective & former acting chief of the since-shutted Oak Hill police force.
Based: Orlando, Fla.
Agencies Represented: Daytona Beach Police Department, DeLand Police Department,  Ponce Inlet Police Department, Volusia County Sheriff's Office, Longwood Police Department, Osceola County Department of Corrections.
Total sworn personnel: 1,400.
Here is a three-year breakdown of Teamsters Business Agent 385 Robert Walker's compensation, including gross salary & business related expenses:
• 2013: $94,336 (gross salary: $83,395; business-related expenses: $10,941);
• 2012, $82,470 (gross salary: $75,807; business-related expenses: $6,663). 
• 2011, $67,503 (gross salary: $62,474; business-related expenses: $5,029).

Did You Know?

Headline Surfer® has covered more Teamsters 385 labor-related stories than all other Central Florida media outlets combined in the last half decade, involving business agent Bob Walker and his predecessor, Jeff Candage, a retired Daytona Beach k-9 cop. An investigative story involving a personnel issue in the Daytona Beach PD, garnered the internet newspaper two awards -- General News Reporting & Public Safety Reporting-- in the 2012 Florida Press Club state-wide journalism contest. Here is the link:


Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of stories on negotiations for a new contract for VCSO deputies and sergeants stemming from Friday's rally and negotiating session.

Henry Frederick Picture

Short Bio

Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories narly eveenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in Wst Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.