Oklahoma City’s contract dispute with its fire union could be headed to court after an arbitrator’s ruling Tuesday afternoon went against the city.
The city and the fire union were unable to reach an agreement in their negotiations this year, meaning a panel of three arbitrators was left to decide between the two sides’ last best offers. The union and the city each appoint an arbitrator and a third neutral arbitrator leads the panel. Firefighters want a raise of almost 2 percent for the fiscal year that began July 1. City officials say they have no money for raises. City department heads are planning to make midyear cuts to their budgets as sales tax revenues continue to decline in the national recession. The city offered to roll over its contract with the firefighters for the past fiscal year with no pay cuts. Two of the three arbitrators agreed to throw out the city’s last offer after agreeing with the union’s argument that some of the language included in the offer was not part of the negotiations.