Police Contract Arbitration at Risk


We approach the anniversary of the signing of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to find our own workplace rights, and FOP contract, under attack from the Montgomery County Council. Nationwide attacks like this have been too frequent lately. Unlike the battles over collective bargaining that have raged in the Midwest, here in Montgomery County democrats are driving the attack against unions.

On June 17, 2016, Montgomery County Council President Nancy Floreen introduced Expedited Bill 24-16. This bill amends the collective bargaining laws of all three Montgomery County Government employee unions – FOP, MCGEO and IAFF. The bill as introduced could do little more to tilt the contract arbitration process in favor of the County during term negotiations.

In the decades leading up to the passage of the 1935 NLRA, scores of labor disputes in the United States turned violent with deaths numbering in the hundreds over the years. A system of collective bargaining was sought to provide a means of dealing with workplace conflict in a non-violent manner. The NLRA, also known as the Wagner Act, paved the way for collective bargaining for workers in the United States. The key to collective bargaining was, and remains, that employers and employees deal with each other on equal terms on a level playing field and that the resolution of disputes is perceived as fair.

In 1980, by overwhelming two-to-one vote on a referendum, the residents of Montgomery County gave collective bargaining with binding arbitration to their police officers. In 1982, the Police Labor Relations Article (PLRA) was enacted drawing its provisions from the NLRA. Since providing collective bargaining to police officers in 1982, there have been no job actions by police in Montgomery County. The law brought labor peace because it brought a level playing field and a resolution process perceived as fair.

In the last decade the Montgomery County Council made some tough budgetary decisions. They said “no” to the public and to public employees while saying “yes” to themselves. The fallout for councilmembers’ actions has come home to roost in the form of a pending term limit referendum that may remove up to five councilmembers, many of whom are now considering running for County Executive.

We are watching as the bill proceeds through the Council, and working with other unions and allied political groups to stop the bill.  There is nothing of value in this bill for police officers or other County employees. We will likely have to take action, as we have in the past, to defeat this shameless attack on our organizations, and collective bargaining itself. We can defeat this bill and preserve a level playing field for resolving conflict under the law.

Every provision of the collective bargaining agreement – which defines the terms of employment including pay, benefits and hours – is subject to arbitration. If the resolution process unfairly favors the employer, police officers have a great deal to lose.


As always, thank you for your support.

Bill 24-16 breakdown

FROM: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/Resources/Files/bill/2016/Packets/20160621_3A.pdf


The law currently provides that neither the PLRA nor any agreement arising under the PLRA shall impair management rights of the County Executive.  [33-80(b)]


All “elements of the employment relationship” not expressly identified as a mandatory subject of bargaining in the PLRA are not subject to bargaining.


Under the law today the County Executive appoints the Permanent Umpire who is then confirmed by the County Council for a five-year term. At the end of any five-year term, the FOP can prevent Umpire from reappointment by filing an objection. [33-77(b)]


Executive may reappoint any incumbent Permanent Umpire without condition.


Anyone appointed to be the Permanent Umpire must have experience in the field of labor relations. [33-77(d)]


Anyone with experience in conducting adjudicatory hearings may be appointed as a Permanent Umpire. This would include retired judges, family law magistrates (masters) and MVA administrative judges.


Contract Arbitrator attempts mediation before Arbitration


Separate Mediator comes in before Arbitration


Contract Arbitration by an agreed upon Individual


3 Person Arbitration Panel – County chooses 2 of them


Under the current law there are 10 enumerated management rights:

(1) To determine the overall budget and mission of the employer and any agency of county government;

(2) To maintain and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations;

(3) To determine the services to be rendered and the operations to be performed;

(4) To determine the overall organizational structure, methods, processes, means, job classifications or personnel by which operations are to be conducted and the location of facilities;

(5) To direct or supervise employees;

(6) To hire, select and establish the standards governing promotion of employees and to classify positions;

(7) To relieve employees from duties because of lack of work or funds, or under conditions when the employer determines continued work would be inefficient or nonproductive;

(8) To make and enforce rules and regulations not inconsistent with this law or a collective bargaining agreement;

(9) To take actions to carry out the mission of government in situations of emergency;

(10) To transfer, assign and schedule employees.


Remove one of the current rights (#9) and add the following additional management Rights:

(10) To determine the size, grades, and composition of the workforce;

(11) To set the standards of productivity and technology;

(12) To establish employee performance standards and evaluate employees, except that evaluation procedures shall be a subject for bargaining;

(13) To make and implement systems for awarding outstanding service increments, extraordinary performance awards, and other merit awards;

(14) To introduce new or improved technology, research, development, and services;

(15) To control and regulate the use of machinery, equipment, and other property and facilities of the employer, subject to section (a)(6) of this section;

(16) To maintain internal security standards;

(17) To create, alter, combine, contract out or abolish any job classification, department, operation, unit, or other division or service, provided that no contracting of work which will displace employees may be undertaken by the employer unless ninety (90) days prior to signing the contract, or such other date of notice as agreed by parties, written notice has been given to the certified representative;

(18) To issue and enforce rules, policies, and regulations necessary to carry out these and all other managerial functions which are not inconsistent with this article, federal or State law, or the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.


Negotiations for a new contract begin on November 1. [33-80(d)] Negotiations will begin on October 15


Negotiation proposals are kept within negotiations and between the parties


The County Executive must publicly publish the FOP’s initial proposals on a website within 10 days of the Executive’s initial counter-proposal.



If the County Executive and the FOP cannot come to an agreement and an impasse is declared, resolution of the impasse must occur by February 1. [33-80(d)] An additional two weeks is added to the time for resolving an impasse. Resolution must be completed by February 15.
The FOP and the County Executive mutually agree upon a neutral arbitrator called an impasse neutral who must be available to resolve any impasse between January 20 and February 1. [33-81(a)] The FOP and the County Executive no longer agree on an impasse neutral. Instead, the parties mutually agree upon a mediator who must be available to resolve any impasse between January 20 and February 15. [33-81(a)]
The impasse neutral attempts to mediate a settlement. [33-81(b)(2)] The mediator chosen by the FOP and the County Executive attempts to mediate a settlement.
If the impasse neutral determines that a settlement is not possible, the impasse neutral accepts final offers of the parties and may conduct a hearing if necessary. [33-81(b)(3)] If the mediator determines that a settlement is not possible the mediator certifies the impasse and an arbitration panel must be selected. The arbitration panel requires each party to submit a complete package proposal. The arbitration panel may hold a hearing if necessary. [33-81(b)(3)]
Contract arbitration hearings are not open to the public. [33-81(b)(4)] Any hearing conducted by the arbitration panel must be open to the public. [33-81(b)(4)]
The impasse neutral must select the more reasonable offer of the two final offers no later than February 1.

The arbitration panel must select the more reasonable offer of the two final offers no later than February 15.

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