A coalition of nine public safety unions including Teamsters Local 355 filed a lawsuit against Anne Arundel County last month, contending a recently-enacted law violates their right to binding arbitration.
In filing the lawsuit the unions asked a judge to toss out the recent bill that gives the county's executive and council the final authority on public safety union members' current and future terms and conditions of employment - regardless of an independent third party ruling.
"This county executive is not going to quit until he has complete control over county employees, regardless of their status," said Local 355 President Denis Taylor.
The suit contends that the law eliminates any incentive for the county executive to compromise in contract disputes, diminishing the arbitration process to nothing more than an expensive sham – "tax dollars will be wasted to fund a system of non-binding arbitration that is certain to be a mere hollow formality."
The new law not only violates the public safety unions' voter-approved right to binding arbitration, but could directly impact the employees' standard of living due to the potential for a decrease in wages and benefits.
During negotiations for a new agreement for deputy sheriff members, Local 355 reached an impasse in March with the county, as did several other coalition unions. All are currently in arbitration. Unfortunately, while the lawsuit winds its way through the court system and until a decision is rendered, the county is not bound to accept and implement an arbitrator's decision.
And so the fight for justice continues.