PA judge dismisses union complaint

Nov. 17, 2011, 2:08 a.m.

On Tuesday, Chief Administrative Law Judge for the City of Palo Alto Shawn Cloughesy dismissed a complaint from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) on behalf of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1319.

Palo Alto firefighters protested a new ballot measure that prevents Palo Alto police and firefighters from using outside arbitrators in the settlement of contractual disputes with the city. The PERB argued that the Palo Alto City Council violated California’s collective bargaining law.

Palo Alto voters passed the measure in question, Measure D, with a 67.28 percent majority in the Nov. 8 election.

Judge Cloughesy in his ruling stated that he dismissed the complaint because the City of Palo Alto had provided sufficient notice to Local 1319. Cloughesy indicated that the union had enough time to object to the new ballot measure, yet did not object to the ballot measure until the last minute.

Local 1319 has 20 days to decide whether or not to appeal the decision and has yet to announce whether it intends to take action.

Voters added the provision of binding arbitration to the City Charter in 1978, giving arbitrators the ability to make binding rulings when two parties reach an impasse on pay and benefit disputes. The move was attributed at the time as a method to counterbalance the fact that the city’s firefighters and police officers do not have the right to strike.

Palo Alto voters followed a statewide trend in passing Measure D early this month. Vallejo voters also repealed binding arbitration in June, while San Luis Obispo voters did so in August.

Marianne LeVine

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