The Anne Arundel County Council voted to delay action on a bill that would end binding arbitration for county public safety employees. Binding arbitration permits an outside (third party) body to make a decision regarding labor disputes and the decision reached by the board cannot be changed. The County implemented binding arbitration after a ballot referendum was “overwhelming approved” by county voters in 2002.
Over 60 testified against the measure, primarily firefighters and police officers. The legislation was introduced as a budget savings measure and during the hearing, the firefighters and police officers indicated a willingness to work with the County Executive to find ways to save money. According to a story in today’s Baltimore Sun,
Craig Oldershaw, head of the county’s firefighters union, and O’Brien Atkinson, president of the county’s lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, say the bill is an attack on the county’s unions, and have vowed legal action if it passes.
Five of Maryland’s 23 counties and the city of Baltimore have binding arbitration for public safety employees. Last November, voters in Baltimore County voted by a 2-to-1 margin to support the use of binding arbitration to settle contract disputes with a large group of unionized county workers.