Prop. A passes, requires arbitration between Austin firefighters’ union, City if there’s a dispute

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — In the upcoming May election, locals voted to change how the Austin firefighters’ union negotiates.

Proposition A passes with 81% of votes at 124,215 for, 29,089 against.

The language states:

Proposition A: Shall the City Charter be amended to give the Austin Firefighters Association, Local 975 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, the authority to require the City to participate in binding arbitration of all issues in dispute with the Association if the City and the Association reach an impasse in collective bargaining negotiations?

This amendment allows a neutral third party come in if the union and city can’t reach an agreement on issues like hiring, promotion, discipline, pay wages and working conditions. According to the Austin Firefighters Association President Bob Nicks, an impasse can lead to personnel shortages that end up costing the city more money. He said Austin firefighters have run into impasses during three of the last six negotiations.

The union gathered 20,000 petition signatures to get the amendment to the city’s charter on the ballot.

Austin’s interim budget officer pointed out two potential issues the proposition could cause for the city in a memo to the mayor and city council: the chance binding arbitration leads to a collective bargaining agreement that doesn’t take into account the needs of the entire city budget, and the potential for credit rating agencies to downgrade the city.

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