County Council Hears Public Comment on Binding Arbitration Bill

The Council will address the bill again next Tuesday.

Frederick, MD – A bill to allow binding arbitration between Frederick County and its career fire fighters was discussed by the County Council Tuesday evening.

The measure follows Question D, a charter amendment made in November, 2018 which allows the county and its firefighters union to seek binding arbitration if negotiations between the two are deadlocked.

“This bill amends our current county code on collective bargaining to reflect the changes put forth in the charter amendment,” Councilwoman Jessica Fitzwater said in January.

Fitzwater sponsored the bill and has said it’s similar to firefighter unions in Montgomery and Howard County

Public comment was taken with several firefighters filling the room.

Richard Baer has been a firefighter for 33 years and said he was one of many firefighters that spent much of their free time campaigning for the passage of Question D back in 2018.

“Many of us would have liked to nap, preferred being with our family or working around the house,” Baer said. “We show up here over and over again because this is so important.”

Baer said the legislation of Question D was voted for by the people and it is the duty of the council to listen to their decision.

Binding arbitration would only be used if the county and the career fire fighters union reach an impasse in labor negotiations and the neutral arbitrator’s decision must be funded in the County Budget.

The council will meet Tuesday, February 18 to make possible amendments and votes on the bill.

By Timothy Young