Balto. Co. Council to Take Up Binding Arbitration, Early Retirement

October 11, 2011

The Baltimore County Council is set to discuss two big issues for public employees at a 2 p.m. work session today: An early-retirement buyout plan and legislation to change how the county resolves labor disputes.

County Executive Kevin Kamenetz proposed the buyout plan, with a goal of eliminating 200 positions. His administration says it would save between $10 million and $15 million a year.

About 1,100 employees would be eligible for the buyouts.

The labor-dispute legislation comes out of a 2010 referendum in which county voters approved giving general county workers the right to binding arbitration – in which a third-party arbiter makes decisions during an impasse. The county’s police and firefighters in have had this right for about a decade.

Under the Kamenetz bill to be discussed today, general workers wouldn’t be able to use binding arbitration until 2014.

Unions have argued that the measure should take effect sooner. They also want the workers to be able to use binding arbitration for terms and conditions of employment, as police and firefighters can. Kamenetz’s proposal would limit the arbitration to salary and pension issues.

The council is scheduled to vote on both bills next Monday, Oct. 17.

-Alison Knezevich

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