Last week a majority of the Cecil County’s State legislative delegation (the Delegation”) approved the introduction of companion bills in the Maryland Senate (SB 726) and House of Delegates (HB 916)(the “Bills”), which call for a County-wide referendum during this November’s elections, in which the voters of Cecil County are to be asked to consider and approve one of two alternative versions of legislation authorizing collective bargaining for the County’s deputy sheriffs. One alternative calls for the enactment of collective bargaining with so-called “binding interest arbitration,” the other with so-called “non-binding interest arbitration.”
These Bills were introduced by the Delegation over the Commissioners’ strong written and verbal objections. This is the latest chapter in a debate which has been on-going in the County for some time, between and among the Commissioners (both past and present), the Sheriff, State and local representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police (the “FOP”) and the Delegation.
For years, the Commissioners have consistently supported legislation to authorize collective bargaining for Sheriff’s deputies but, just as consistently, they have opposed any authorizing legislation which creates a right of interest arbitration, whether binding or non-binding. The Commissioners are now also strongly opposed to having this matter presented to County voters for decision, in a referendum. The Commissioners object to the proposed bills for many reasons, and want to explain why.
Collective Bargaining Basics
The Commissioners believe that Sheriff’s deputies should have the right to engage in collective bargaining with them and with the Sheriff. But they strongly oppose the Delegation’s Bills, which offer alternative versions of collective bargaining legislation for approval by referendum in November. Perhaps it would be helpful to begin by providing some information about basic collective bargaining concepts and terms.
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