Firefighters sue in effort to force binding arbitration

September 17, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The county firefighters union has asked an Anne Arundel circuit judge to order county officials to participate in binding arbitration to resolve their labor dispute.

The firefighters are entitled to arbitration because the union's 550 members never ratified the contract approved by the County Council on May 30, which is being enforced by the county, said Sarah Harlan, lawyer for Local 1563 of the Anne Arundel County Professional Firefighters.

Harlan said the pact should not be in effect because the previous contract included an "evergreen clause" specifying that it should remain in effect until a new contract is ratified.

The membership refused to ratify the contract in two days of meetings in mid-June, according to the suit, which was filed yesterday.

LeRoy Wilkison, president of the union, said the contract was rejected unanimously by members because of concerns about the pension package and because it removed 100 captains and lieutenants from the union membership.

County Attorney Phillip Scheibe called the lawsuit "pure poppycock," saying the firefighters' contract talks had been submitted to arbitration.

Scheibe said the firefighters are obligated to adhere to the contract once it is approved by the County Council.

"What they're saying, in essence, is they're refusing to abide by our laws, which is ridiculous," he said.

No hearing date has been set on the suit.

Pub Date: 9/17/96

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