California city looks to neutral judge in firefighter contract dispute

  • Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel
  • Published: 01/14/2020 12:00 AM

A city dispute with its firefighters’ union over wage increases may need third-party intervention to resolve. After stalling on contract negotiations in October, negotiators have invoked a provision known as “binding arbitration” for the first time in city history, according to the city’s human resources director. Santa Cruz voters in March 1996 approved a city charter amendment mail-in ballot measure that allows firefighters to use this type of dispute resolution, with the city of Watsonville firefighters’ union following suit two years later. Negotiators from both sides of the table said during interviews in recent days that they were “disappointed” and “not excited” that the issue had escalated to outside intercession, as they have traditionally worked well together. The major area of disagreement after a handful of meetings between July and September has been focused on the increasing rate of firefighter compensation rates planned in coming years, representatives told the Sentinel.


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