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City Charter Amendment for Binding Arbitration
City of Santa Rosa
Majority Approval Required
Pass: 38,222 / 72.1% Yes votes ...... 14,800 / 27.9% No votes
Index of all Measures
|Results as of Dec 17 1:47pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (64/64)|
|Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text|
Binding Arbitration: Shall an amendment to the Santa Rosa City Charter be adopted to limit and clarify the manner in which binding arbitration is used for Police and Fire Department employee disputes?
State law requires the City to "meet and confer" with all of its employees, including public safety employees, over wages, hours, and terms and conditions of employment. If these matters cannot be resolved through negotiation, either party can declare an impasse. After an impasse is declared, the City and the bargaining units representing the particular group of employees participate in impasse resolution procedures such as mediation to try and reach an agreement.
In the case of public safety employees, if the parties do not resolve their disputes after engaging in impasse procedures, the issues are required to be presented to a three member arbitration panel. After conducting a hearing, the arbitration panel makes a decision on each disputed issue which is binding on both sides. Disciplinary disputes have also been required, if elected by the public safety employee, to be decided by the binding arbitration procedure.
Effective January 2012, a new law changed the process that the City is required to follow to implement contracts for employees who do not have a binding arbitration process available to them if the parties are unable to reach an agreement. The City is now required, if elected by the bargaining unit, to engage in a neutral fact finding process which requires a three member panel to make findings of fact and recommendations before the City can impose its last, best and final offer. Under this process, the fact finders look at a number of factors including comparable pay and the City's ability to pay. The City's ability to pay is not defined under this new law. Public safety employees would not be covered under this law if they are subject to a binding arbitration provision.
The revisions made as part of this Charter Amendment would still provide a binding arbitration process but would provide mandatory guidelines that an arbitrator must follow in resolving disputes over wages, hours and terms of conditions between the City and its public safety employees. It defines the factors that the arbitrator must look at to determine the City's financial ability to pay a proposed contract and determine the impacts on the interest and welfare of the public.
The Charter Amendment also provides that individual employment disputes shall no longer be included under the binding arbitration provision and that the parties can stipulate to use a single arbitrator to reduce costs.
The City Council unanimously approved this ballot measure.
A "Yes" vote on Measure R would implement these changes to the arbitration process. A "No" vote on Measure R will leave the existing binding arbitration procedures in place.
s/ Caroline L. Fowler, City Attorney
|Arguments For Measure R|
In 1995, the voters approved Measure A adding a provision to the City Charter to provide for binding arbitration to resolve employment disputes between the City and police and fire employees. This measure would clarify and add limitations on this process to address concerns that have arisen in the community since its passage. It would add mandatory criteria that must be considered to determine
whether the City has the ability to pay a proposed contract.
A new law enacted in January 2012 applies to all public employees except those covered by binding arbitration. This law requires if the City reaches an impasse with its bargaining units the issues be submitted to an impartial fact finding panel to look at a variety of factors including comparable wages, consumer price index and the City's ability to pay which is not defined in the law. The police and fire employees would be covered by this new law if binding arbitration were eliminated so many of the concerns raised would still exist.
Some jurisdictions have chosen to completely eliminate Binding Arbitration but that process has resulted in strained labor relations and legal challenges to such actions and inmost cases occurred before the passage of the new law discussed above.
For these reasons, the Charter Review Committee engaged in a collaborative process with the public safety bargaining units. This is the first successful effort of this kind in California. The measure also removes individual discipline disputes from coverage under this section and allows the parties to agree to use only one arbitrator instead of three to reduce costs.
The City, Police Employees and Fire Employees support Measure R as a fair and equitable way to address the community's concerns over the issue of binding arbitration. We hope that you will support it too.
SANTA ROSA CITY COUNCIL
SONOMA COUNTY TAXPAYERS' ASSOCIATION
s/ Jane Bender, Former Mayor/Council Member
s/ Steve Rabinowitsh, Former Council Member
s/ Michael D. Senneff, Chair, Charter Review Committee
(No arguments against Measure R were submitted)
|Full Text of Measure R|
|MEASURE NO. 2
Section 1. Shall Section 56 of the Charter of the City of Santa Rosa concerning Binding Arbitration be amended to read as follows?
Sec. 56. Impartial and Binding Arbitration for Police and Fire Department Employee Disputes.
(a) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the City of Santa Rosa that strikes by firefighters and police officers are not in the public interest and should be prohibited, and that a method should be adopted for peacefully and equitably resolving disputes that might otherwise lead to such strikes. It is further acknowledged that strikes by firefighters and police officers are unlawful in the State of California.
(b) Prohibition against Strikes. No City of Santa Rosa police department employee or fire department employee covered by the provisions of this section shall willfully engage in a strike against the City. Any such employee against whom the City brings charges of failing to report for work as part of a strike shall be subject to dismissal from his or her employment in the event the charges are sustained upon conclusion of the proceedings that are required by law for the imposition of disciplinary action upon said employee.
(c) In the event that the City and any employee organization that is recognized by the City as the exclusive representation unit or representation units composed solely of employees of the police department and/or fire department, as such units are currently constituted or as they may be amended through negotiation or arbitration as provided in this section, fail to reach agreement on a memorandum of understanding after negotiating in good faith as required by the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, Government Code \A7 3500 et seq., then either party may request that the issues be submitted to binding arbitration. Except as otherwise provided in this section to the contrary, all provisions of the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act shall apply to the negotiations and impasse procedures between the City and said employee organizations.
(d) In the event that the City and any employee organization that is recognized by the City as the exclusive representative of a representation unit or representation units composed solely of employees of the police departments and/or fire department, as such units are currently constituted or as they may be amended through negotiation or arbitration as provided in this section, fail to resolve any grievance over the application or interpretation of any provision in the memorandum of understanding between the City and said employee organization, except for any issue relating to discipline of an individual employee or employee(s), either party may request submission of the grievance to binding arbitration for final resolution.
(e) The City and the representatives of the employee organization may stipulate to have the issues resolved by a single arbitrator agreed upon by the parties. If the parties are unable to agree to a single arbitrator, then within fourteen days after either party has notified the other in writing that it desires to proceed to arbitration, each party shall select and appoint one arbitrator to the Arbitration Board. The third member of the Arbitration Board shall be selected by agreement between the City and the employee organization and shall serve as the neutral arbitrator and Chairperson of the Board. In the event that the City and the employee organization cannot agree upon the selection of the neutral arbitrator within ten days after the appointment of the arbitrators referenced above, then either party may request the State Mediation and Conciliation Service of the State of California Department of Industrial Relations to provide a list of seven persons to act as the neutral arbitrator, the parties shall alternately strike names from the list of nominees until one name remains and that person shall then become the neutral arbitrator and the Chairperson of the Board.
(f) The Arbitrator(s) in arriving at a decision shall consider the factors set forth in Government Code Section 3505.4 (d) in the following order of priority and importance:
(1) State and federal laws that are applicable to the City; (2) Local rules, regulations, or ordinances; (3) Stipulations of the parties; (4) The interests and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the City as these terms are defined in paragraph (g) below; (5) Comparison of the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of the employees involved in the arbitration with the wages, hours, and conditions of employment of other employees performing similar services in comparable cities; (6) The consumer price index for goods and services, commonly known as the cost of living; and (7) The overall compensation presently received by the employees, including direct wage compensation, vacations, holidays, and other excused time, insurance and pensions, medical and hospitalization benefits, the continuity and stability of employment, and all other benefits received.
(g) The interests and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the City to pay shall be determined based on an evaluation of evidence submitted by both parties based on all of the following criteria: (1) The documented cost of the respective proposals submitted by both parties to the general fund and other dedicated public safety funding sources; (2) A genuine general fund budget deficit of the City; (3) Inability of the City to pay its debts to third parties; (4) Legislative action by the City declaring a financial emergency; (5) Long term cash flow problems in the general fund or other dedicated public safety funding sources; (6) The City's bond rating and inability to sell bonds and other obligations at a reasonable interest rate; (7) Decline in general fund or other dedicated public safety tax revenues over a period of years; (8) Documented increases or decreases in benefit costs or other City mandatory expenditures in the general fund or other dedicated public safety funding sources; (9) Projected costs to the general fund of pending litigation against the City; (10) Condition of the City's physical infrastructure, especially safety and liability issues arising from poorly maintained facilities; (11) Reduction in the number of positions by attrition and layoffs of employees in the two fiscal years prior to the fiscal year under negotiation; (12) Layoffs proposed for the fiscal year under negotiation; (13) Consideration of salary and benefit increases or decreases to other City general fund employees in the fiscal year prior to the year(s) under negotiation and the current fiscal year(s) at issue; (14) The relative wealth of the City when comparing general fund revenue per capita with the comparable agencies; and (15) If the proposed contract is a multiyear contract, the arbitrator must consider ability to pay over the life of the contract being arbitrated.
(h) The decision of the Arbitrator(s) shall provide a written explanation as to the application of the factors set forth above in the decision. Compliance with the provisions of the Charter shall be mandatory and enforceable by either party pursuant to Section 1085 of the Code of Civil Procedure; failure to comply with these provisions shall also constitute an act in excess of jurisdiction.
(i) After reaching a decision, the Arbitrator(s) shall mail or otherwise deliver a true copy of its decision to the parties. The decision shall not be publicly disclosed and shall not be binding until ten (10) days after it is delivered to the parties. During that ten (10) day period the parties shall meet privately, attempt to resolve their differences, and by mutual agreement amend or modify the decision of the Arbitrator(s). At the conclusion of the ten (10) day period, which may be extended by mutual agreement between the parties, the decision of the Arbitrator(s), as it may be modified or amended by the parties, shall be publicly disclosed and shall be binding on the parties. The City and the employee organization shall take whatever action is necessary to carry out and effectuate the arbitration award. No other actions by the City Council or by the electorate to conform or approve the decision of the Arbitrator(s) shall be permitted or required.
(j) The expenses of any arbitration proceeding convened pursuant to this Section, including the fee for the services of the Chairperson of the Arbitration Board and the costs of preparation of the transcript of the proceedings shall be borne equally by the parties. All other expenses which the parties may incur individually are to be borne by the party incurring such expenses.
(k) The terms and language of this Section have been conceived in good faith and based on best known practices and applicable law at the time of its creation; however if after adoption any portion of this Section should be enjoined or declared invalid or otherwise vacated, other than by a vote of the electorate, the court shall determine whether the disputed portion of this Section is severable from the remaining portions of this Section and whether the remaining portions of this Section without the disputed portion maintains the intent of the voters in adopting this Section. The court shall set forth the basis for its determination on this issue as part of any judgment which invalidates any portion of this Section.
Section 2. Enumeration of New Powers. This proposed Charter Amendment does not result in any new powers for the City and does not grant any new power to the Council to increase its own compensation or the compensation of other City officials.