Following a successful petition effort in which the police and fire fighter unions accumulated more than 12,000 signatures, residents of the city of Hagerstown, MD will have the opportunity to vote on a referendum allowing binding arbitration by a neutral arbitrator if negotiations between the unions and the City lead to impasse. While the City Council members expressed a concern that passage of such a resolution might lead to economic pressure on the City — for example, when pay raises are determined by a neutral third party — the Unions stressed that it is not their intention to cause any undue economic hardship on the City or its citizens.
Herald-Mail Media.com reports that in a council meeting July 26, 2016, in a 4-1 vote, the Council approved changing the City charter formally to make union representation and collective bargaining official within the City charter. The referendum regarding binding arbitration at impasse [interest arbitration] will coincide with the national election on November 8, 2016. When interviewed, Hagerstown Mayor David S. Gyberts said that if the referendum passes, he continues to hope that mediation and collective bargaining can avoid the necessity for binding arbitration.