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Arbitration Process in Westport Rules for Firefighters

Thursday, September, 8, 2011


The arbitration process is a way of resolving disputes without the need for a lawsuit or court settlement.  In the case of firefighters pursuing contract arbitration with their employer, the town of Westport, Connecticut, arbitration attorneys have issued a ruling that helps the workers to retain a better retirement plan than the town wished to offer them.

Arbitration Process Enforced Previous Agreements

One point of contention between the city and Local 1081 of the International Firefighters Association, a member of the AFL-CIO, was the retirement plan in place.  The town of Westport wanted to move the firefighters onto a "defined contribution" style of plan.  These plans specify how much each worker will contribute to his or her own retirement, but do not specify the benefit that the worker will garner at retirement age; such benefits are left up to the fluctuations of the stock market and other investment vehicles the employee has chosen to place funds in.

Arbitration attorneys who heard both sides of this dispute ruled that a defined contribution plan could not be put in place at the current time.  Their reasoning rested on the fact that the firefighters have previously bargained for a pension agreement; this agreement is slated to last until 2016.  The ruling leaves open the possibility that a defined contribution plan could be adopted by the city sometime after the current agreement has expired.

No construction arbitration was involved in the ruling.