February 15, 2011

Campus Police binding arbitration fight moves to Senate

A Senate committee on Monday (Feb. 14) took up the Federation-initiated bill extending binding interest arbitration rights to campus police.

Lana Brewster, a veteran police officer at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and a member of Local 443, said "binding arbitration levels the playing field for us as law enforcement officers."

SB 5606 came before the Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.

She rejected the claim by the governor's Office of Financial Management representative that arbitration doesn't lead to contract settlements.

Brewster, a member of the TESC Bargaining Team, said her team is still battling management for a fair contract even without arbitration now.

Local 931 member Quincy Burns, a detective at Eastern Washington University, also disputed the administration's anti-arbitration argument.

"By having binding arbitration extended to us, it does create an incentive to reach an agreement," Burns said.

"What it does is it keeps the reasonableness factor on the table so that both sides don't ask for pie in the sky."

Josef Bailey, a police officer at Western Washington University and a member of Local 1381 joined Brewster and Burns.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Steve Conway of the 29th District, also expressed his puzzlement at the governor's opposition and claim that the current system of non-binding mediation and fact-finding is adequate.

"I guess my feeling about mediation is it doesn't lead to a decision and could go on forever," Conway said.

"It just seems like binding arbitration addresses particular needs of certain uniformed personnel. And that has been the case in this state for many years. And you're kind of taking a position opposite of that.

"We allow for binding arbitration for all kinds of uniformed personnel, firefighters and police officers. Why would we not allow it for state uniformed personnel?"

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