Maryland Public Safety Unions Win Back Binding Arbitration

A Maryland county's nine public safety unions have won back their right to binding arbitration.

In a 6-1 ruling, the Court of Appeals tossed out an Anne Arundel County law adopted last year that gutted public safety workers' right to have a neutral party settle disputes between the county and union.

In a 2002 voter referendum, 80 percent of the ­­county's residents granted their police officers, detention officers and fire fighters an arbitrator to resolve collective bargaining disagreements. But early last year, County Executive John R. Leopold effectively undid that law, passing legislation that allowed the County Council to ignore the arbitrator's decision.

The unions sued, lost in Circuit Court and appealed to the state-s highest court.

"Curiously — or not — Leopold’s bill coincided with Republican efforts to quash public-sector employee unions across the country," FODCOP-CWA Local 2911 President Dale Waldroff reported. "On Friday, the Court of Appeals called the County law undercutting binding arbitration a foul ball. The decision was a home run for our detention, police and firefighters, for whom possible arbitration is the only recourse, since they are barred from strikes and work stoppages. The County Executive has begrudgingly complied."