Pennsylvania Court Workers Reach Deal with County via Binding Arbitration1591
Saturday, January, 17, 2015
Court employees and County Commissioners in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, have agreed to a new four year contract. The Union involved in the binding arbitration represents about 140 workers in the courts, including court reporters and workers in the prothonotary office (the office of the Chief Court Clerk – Pennsylvania and Delaware are the only two States in the U.S. to still use the term).
The binding arbitration was invoked when the county and the union could not find immediate common ground on issues including the salary scale used for court employees and the annual raises to be guaranteed to court workers. The union pushed for its members to be put on a unified salary scale, which was opposed by the county out of fears similar moves would follow from other government employee unions, making it more difficult to negotiate separately with each union.
In the end, the union won, and the court workers were placed on a unified salary scale. It also won guaranteed raises for the next four years between 2% and 2.5% depending on the precise position of each employee, which is seen as a victory for the union. Although the county expressed unhappiness with the salary scale decision, they have no recourse to appeal the arbitrator’s decision.
The union’s members are vital parts of the county justice system. Any work stoppage or slowdowns would be disastrous for criminal and civil trials being conducted. The binding arbitration was seen as a way of avoiding any of these negative scenarios and keeping county business moving.