Demonstrating that at least some arbitrators understand the constraints on municipal employers caused by the recession, a panel of arbitrators chaired by Arbitrator Susan Meredith has declined to award a non-certified bargaining unit in the Town of Sterling any wage increase for the 2009-10 fiscal year. It also awarded a 2.5% increase for 2008-09 and a 1.5% increase for 2010-11.
The panel also refused to introduce steps into the contract, a position the union insisted upon throughout negotiations and which ultimately became the issue which forced negotiations into the hands of the arbitrators.
While the award arguably does not have far reaching impact given that Sterling is a relatively poor community, it certainly is strong support for similar decisions in other communities that can show actual material detrimental impact from the recession. Floyd J. Dugas and Jason R. Stanevich represented the Sterling Board of Education in the arbitration hearing.