Anne Arundel Executive Challenges Binding Arbitration

In a January 24 Capital article, Anne Arundel County Executive John Leopold proposed legislation that would terminate binding arbitration for county police and firefighters.  He warned that the alternative could be higher income taxes or “draconian cuts.”

Although the county last year won pay concessions from an arbitrator, Leopold said he fears a decision against the county during tough financial times could devastate the balance sheets.

“The taxpayers’ interests trump the union’s interests in this area,” Leopold said.  …

Union leaders are outraged at the effort to end the process, saying that leaving the final decision up to county councilmen inserts politics into negotiations.  …

Craig Oldershaw, head of the firefighters’ union, said taxpayers should be concerned that Leopold has no ideas to solve the county’s financial woes besides “reaching into the wallets of county employees.”

Across the board, county workers took about a 5 percent pay reduction last year to help close a $95 million budget gap.

“When does the molesting of the county employees stop? When we’re broke?” Oldershaw asked.

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