In 1998, Sacramento County become one of the first counties (if not the first) in California to adopt binding arbitration as a mechanism to settle labor disputes. In the case of Sacramento County, the binding arbitration measure applied only to its deputy sheriffs. On May 19th, Sacramento County voters will decide the fate of Measure A, which would extend the County’s binding arbitration charter provision to cover probation officers and law enforcement management. The local newspaper—the Sacramento Bee—has come out strongly against Measure A. The Bee has also been running articles and editorials criticizing public safety salaries and overtime, particularly in the Sacramento metro fire department. However, other than the Bee there appears to be no organized opposition to Measure A.
Given the state of the economy and voter hostility to the state propositions, my initial thought is that Measure A may have a tough time passing. But given the expected tiny voter turnout and the fact there is no organized opposition, its anyone’s call as to what will happen. Also, since Sacramento County has had binding arbitration for its deputy sheriffs for over a decade and the City of Sacramento also has binding arbitration, the voters may not see Measure A as controversial. So keep you eyes out for the result on Measure A, it may be a harbinger of things to come.