BRENTWOOD - Deputy sheriffs in Suffolk County protested Wednesday outside the Brentwood inauguration of County Executive Steve Bellone, saying they have not had a contract in six years.

The union says its members now earn about $60,000 less than their police counterparts.

“We have tried numerous times to negotiate with this county and all of our efforts have failed,” says Suffolk Deputy Sheriffs PBA President John Becker.

A major sticking point may be the legal battle over who patrols the Long Island Expressway: Suffolk police or deputy sheriffs. The conflict dates back to 2008 and is still being hashed out in court.

Bellone says that since he took office, his administration has been able to work out contract deals with seven other unions. He says what's happening with the deputy sheriffs isn't his fault.

“I think the reality is that we're at the negotiating table and they're out protesting and using these other tactics that aren't going to work,” says Bellone.

Both sides say that binding arbitration seems to be the next likely step.