|November 14, 2008
A-2243 (Time Limits on Mediation and Fact Finding)
We have learned that the Assembly plans to vote on A-2243 on Monday. We oppose this legislation, which would place 60 day limits on the mediation and fact-finding phases of police and fire contract arbitration. It would also require an arbitrator or panel of arbitrators to issue an award within 120 days of selection or assignment, which limit could only be extended by 90 days, by mutual consent of the parties.
Though we can see a benefit in enforcing the time limit on the arbitrator at the end of the process, we cannot support the proposed limits on mediation and fact-finding at the beginning. Those limits place an emphasis on timely resolution of disputes, at the possible expense of the interests of our property taxpayers. They would limit the ability of an arbitrator to use time as a tool to encourage negotiation and compromise on important aspects of a settlement. And they could compromise the fact-finding process, limit the ability of both parties to digest the results of that process, and lead to the inclusion of mutually disagreeable provisions in the final settlement.
Given the low percentage of cases that are ultimately resolved by a binding interest arbitration award, we see no need to advance these changes at this time. Accordingly, we oppose A-2243.
We urge you to contact your Representatives in the General Assembly. Ask that they consider your opinion of this legislation.
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.