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San Luis Obispo Involved In Binding Arbitration Battle

Wednesday, May, 2, 2012

An unfair practices complaint has been filed by a state agency assigned with administering union bargaining laws against the city of San Luis Obispo. City officials are accused of failing to meet and confer with the police union over a binding arbitration.


A heavy battle between both sides in the matter of the binding arbitration itself regarding benefits of safety workers lead to 70 percent of voters electing to end it. This decision would allow the city to change retirement benefits without seeking voter approval.


Legal Arbitration Appealed Under Claims of Unfair Negotiating Practices


In 2000, the public voted for the legal arbitration to have a third party negotiator present if labor talks came to a stalling point. Both the unions and the city were required to abide by said negotiator's choices and decisions in these cases. However, the Police Officers Association filed a claim with the Public Employment Relations Board in mid-October of this year claiming that the city had employed unfair negotiating practices.


Both the union negotiators and city officials are to meet up for an informal conference in June to attempt to come to another agreement. If this fails, a formal hearing will be set by the PERB later in the fall. If wrongdoing is found on the part of the city, then the August vote ending the bind will possibly be overturned.


City attorney Christine Dietrick said that the city has acted legally and contends that it acted “in a manner that is consistent with both the letter and spirit of applicable labor relations laws.”


However, May of last year saw the police union requesting a temporary restraining order against the city. This attempt to was to stop a public vote on the binding contract arbitration because the union claimed that city council placing cost saving measures in the ballot was a violation of law.