AFT-MD Supports Binding Arbitration for Baltimore Police Officers

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Testimony of

 

Mr. Jeffery Johnson

of the

American Federation of Teachers—Maryland

 

Before the

 

House Appropriations Committee

ON HOUSE BILL 756

BINDING ARBITRATION FOR BALTIMORE CITY POLICE OFFICERS

 

 

 

Distinguished Chairman and Honorable Members of the Committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to address you today. My name is Jeffery Johnson and I am here representing the American Federation of Teachers—Maryland. AFT-Maryland represents more than 20,000 workers in this state, including teachers, nurses and healthcare workers, professional state employees, corrections officers, county employees and many others who live and work in the state of Maryland and in the City of Baltimore.

On behalf of our members, I want to express AFT-Maryland’s support for the passage of HR 756. This bill proposes that Baltimore police officers be permitted to employ binding arbitration during the negotiation of their contracts.

When a dispute between labor and government administrators arises and an impasse results, no one wins. Police morale is lowered. The city is left without well-defined parameters for its law enforcement agency. The citizens are left in limbo—uncertain whether they can rely or depend on the protections their law enforcement officers are supposed to provide.

Binding arbitration is a proven and time tested method of resolving contract disputes.  It makes sense. When two sides engaged in the negotiation of a contract come to an impasse, an independent third party, an arbitrator, with no bias toward either of the two negotiating parties, is allowed to resolve that conflict.

Binding arbitration has been used and, indeed, is being used by Maryland employees today.  In the last election, workers in Baltimore County were successful in placing binding arbitration on the November ballot. That initiative, known then as Question A, passed in Baltimore County by a margin of two to one.

This is a clear indication that not only state and city workers, but the public at large recognizes binding arbitration as a fair and equitable means of resolving contract conflicts.

We see no reason why the police officers of Baltimore City should not have access to binding arbitration, particularly when Baltimore firefighters and police officers in other jurisdictions in Maryland already have and utilize this negotiating tool.

 

We respectfully encourage the members of this committee support and promote the application of binding arbitration in the negotiation of contracts for the Baltimore City police officers.

 

Thank you.