OC firefighter referendum passes; union attains bargain interest arbitration
OCEAN CITY, Md. – The firefighter’s union in Ocean City has been working hard for the past two years to get their hands on a binding interest arbitration and now after the election on November 6th, voters approved the referendum. The ballot question allowed a third party to be involved if the firefighters union, the mayor and council couldn’t agree on contract negotiations.
Local firefighter union president, Ryan Whittington says, “We didn’t feel like we were listened to. We didn’t feel like they took in consideration what we thought was in the best interest for our firefighter paramedics that come to work every day.”
Whittington says that the contract negotiation back in 2016 was an eye opener and the main reason for adding on a third party. We’re told their schedules changed from working a 24-hour shift with 72 hours off, to two 10 and two 14-hour shifts over four days with four off. “We signed that contract knowing that we had no way to work it out and that’s why we went to the voters to support us in binding interest arbitration,” Whittington tells us.
47 ABC also to Mayor Rick Meehan who says, “I was a little surprised they asked for it to begin with, I think we’ve been very successful in our negotiations but it was something they felt was important, felt they needed to have. It will be the third party that makes a final decision, removes that final decision from the elected officials of Ocean City, which was our concern, but if that’s what the voters wanted to do and that’s what they did so then that’s what we’ll do and it we’ll make it work the best way possible.”
Their contract negotiations can include anything from wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Their last contract took over a year to negotiate. The union tells 47 ABC that they’ve exchanged intents to renegotiate with the Mayor and council and they have until March to come up with a new contract.
Both parties agreed that they hope they can resolve any issues without having to bring in that binding arbitration.