|Contract Negotiation Under 4117|
Contact Negotiations Under 4117
By: Joe Hegedus, Attorney
As most of you who are active in assisting in the local contract negotiation process are already aware, negotiations, in the public sector in Ohio, are governed by Chapter 4117 of the revised code.
Specifically, R.C. Section 4117.14 contains the procedure for negotiation or re-negotiation of a contract, commencing with a timely Notice to Negotiate, which triggers the duty of the parties to engage in good faith negotiations, and culminating, where necessary, in binding arbitration, which is also known as Conciliation.
Of course, there are other steps that the parties must engage in along the way, in an effort to reach mutual resolution, including mediation and Fact-Finding.
Where mediation fails to result in a mutually agreed upon contract, the parties resort to Fact-Finding as the next step of the dispute resolution process set forth in the aforementioned statute.
In Fact-Finding, the parties engage a neutral selected from a list provided by the State Employment Relations Board (“SERB”) who, usually, first attempts to mediate, once again.
If mediation is unsuccessful at this step, the Fact-Finder convenes an evidentiary hearing and accepts evidence from both parties as to all of the open issues.
Within an agreed upon time period after the hearing, the Fact-Finder issues a Report & Recommendation which can be rejected by either party by a 3/5 vote of either the Union membership or the relevant legislative body.
A rejection of the Fact-Finder’s report, results in binding, final offer arbitration before a neutral called a Conciliator.
As in Fact-Finding, the Conciliator is required to consider the following factors in R.C. Section 4117.14(G)(7) when choosing from the final offers of the parties, on an issue-by-issue basis:
(7) after hearing, the conciliator shall resolve the dispute between the parties by selecting, on an issue-by-issue basis, from between each of the party’s final settlement offers, taking into consideration the following:
Unlike Fact-Finding, the Conciliator’s award is final and binding on the parties, subject to a seldom attempted, and extraordinary review by the Common Pleas Court.
There are other significant differences between Fact-Finding and Conciliation including the fact that Conciliation is only available to a specifically delineated universe of employees referenced in R.C. §4117.14(D)(1), including, but, not limited to, members of a police department, deputy sheriffs, dispatchers and corrections officers.
Finally, and, tactically, the most important distinction between Fact-Finding and Conciliation is the statutory requirement that the Conciliator must choose between the final offer of the Employer and the Union, on an issue-by-issue basis, and may not select a compromise position, unlike the Fact-Finder who is free to fashion a remedy that deviates from the position(s) of the parties.
The foregoing was intended to give you a brief overview of the negotiations process as it is contained in R.C. §4117.14.
Please contact your assigned OPBA representative to discuss the application of this process to your individual situation.
 Although the statute does not indicate what relative weight that is to be assigned to each of the factors, clearly, internal and external comparables and ability to pay are emphasized and relied on the most by both the parties and the neutrals.