Arbitrator rules city wrong to cut firefighter compensation

An independent arbitrator has ruled that the city of Stockton did not have the right to impose wage cuts on its firefighters, but did have the right to close a truck company.. The arbitrator, Alexander Cohn, said that the city’s financial situation did not constitute a “imminent threat,” as specified by the contract language.

From The Stockton Record:

Among the evidence Cohn cited was an offer by the city in June 2010 to raise firefighter salary by 8.5 percent, rather than the 12.5 percent called for in the contract. According to the ruling, following the union’s rejection of that offer, the City Council suspended the raise, closed Truck Co. 4 and imposed other compensation cuts. The city was then projecting a general fund deficit of $23 million.

The closure of Truck Co. 4, unlike the compensation cuts, was governed by a different standard, requiring “extraordinary circumstances.” That the city’s financial woes met that standard was “patently clear,” Cohn wrote.

Cohn rejected the union’s claim that even had conditions been met, the city did not have the authority to close the truck company.