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FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | NORTH / ANAHEIM

Firefighters Push Ballot Measure on Arbitration

May 29, 1998|DEBRA CANO

Firefighters have gathered more than 21,000 signatures in an effort to qualify a November ballot measure requiring that labor disputes between them and the city be resolved by a neutral third party.

If the measure is successful, Anaheim would be the first county city in required to use binding arbitration in contract disputes. A three-member panel would decide on disputes over wages, hours or terms and conditions of employment.

Anaheim firefighters have been in negotiations with the city for two years and want a modest pay raise, said Richard Chavez, president of the Anaheim Firefighters Assn.

The union will submit the signatures for verification to the city clerk on Monday, said Tony Spitaleri, the firefighters' campaign advisor and a firefighter himself in Palo Alto, which has used binding arbitration for 20 years.

Spitaleri said he is confident that the local firefighters have the 14,993 signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot. If it qualifies, the City Council would decide whether to place the measure on the November ballot.

Officials said that 16 cities in Northern and Central California use binding arbitration in negotiations with police, fire and other public employees.

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