Last night, the Anne Arundel County Council approved local legislation to rein in the county’s binding arbitration provisions for public safety employees. According to coverage in the Baltimore Sun:
The Anne Arundel County Council approved a measure Monday night that gives the body final say in labor disputes between the county and its public safety employees, a system that union leaders say deteriorates binding arbitration.
Despite overwhelming union opposition, the council voted unanimously to approve the legislation, which alters the county’s binding arbitration agreement with about 1,500 public safety employees.
Councilman Jerry Walker introduced two key amendments, which garnered support among his colleagues, who were previously divided on the bill. The amendments require the county to include the arbitrator’s findings in budget proposals and cut a provision that would have removed binding arbitration if the findings were challenged successfully in court.
The bill had been introduced by the County Administration:
County Executive John R. Leopold crafted the original bill, saying the legislation would help the county avoid a possible tax increase. Anne Arundel is facing an expected $75 million budget deficit in the coming fiscal year. Leopold said he was “pleased” with the council’s vote, though he expressed disappointment with the amendments.
“The council voted unanimously in support of the important principle that elected officials, in this case the County Council, should be free to make the final decision on an arbitrator’s award,” said Leopold, a Republican. “In that way, they untied their hands.”