Regarding the July 29 editorial “Unions halt a smart plan in Montgomery County”:
I am a professional arbitrator. I support neither the unions nor Montgomery County. The editorial board placed great stock in the 80 percent “outright victories” for the unions. Honest neutral parties, be they judges or arbitrators, call them as they see them. Would a 50-50 split on “victories” have been more satisfactory? One might rightly wonder whether the neutrals were, Solomon-like (with no reference to the merits), simply splitting the baby.
If the arbitrators were concerned about the risk of being “blackballed by the unions,” why would they not be equally, and equally improperly, worried about the county’s similar response?
The editorial board referred to an “irony” that resides in the county’s apparent unwillingness to exercise its power to limitlessly reject and reshape an arbitration decision it doesn’t like. That is not ironic; it is the problem. If reform is in order — if the county’s advocacy at arbitration has been unsatisfactory — it should come with better cases. If the arbitrator is misguided or worse, the county should get a different one the next time. And, if an opinion is repugnant, the elected representatives should discard it and not suggest that it’s the arbitrators who are selling out.
Richard I. Bloch, Washington