Oregon Local secures victory in landmark arbitration case

September 18 • 2023

Ashland, OR Local 1269 members emerged from a grueling two-year contract negotiation with the introduction of longevity pay, thanks to persistence from Local leadership and a pivotal decision in its favor during interest arbitration proceedings.

“The Local 1269 negotiating team had bargained in good faith and provided a reasonable Last Best Offer (LBO). However, the two sides could not come to an agreement,” said IAFF General Counsel Peter Leff. “Under Oregon state law, any unresolved issues subject to mandatory bargaining are to be submitted to interest arbitration. And we are pleased that they have received a positive ruling.” 

Settling the contract came down to two issues: a reduction in health insurance benefits contribution and longevity pay. 

“The city wanted to make significant changes to our health insurance without discussing it with us. And it was going to cost us more,” said Local 1269 President Brent Knutson. “And our members had never had longevity pay. We believed strongly that we needed to stand our ground on these two issues.” 

According to the rules of interest arbitration, both sides submitted their LBOs for consideration. The arbitrator then had to decide which offer was most fair and reasonable. 

During arguments, it was shown that the city had the funds to support Local 1269’s LBO. And none of the union’s requests in their offer were deemed unreasonable. Therefore, the arbitrator ruled in favor of Local 1269 and ordered that their amended LBO be implemented without modification. 

The new July 2022-July 2025 contract does include a health insurance modification, but one that will be less impactful on the membership. The big victory is the inclusion of longevity pay. Longevity pay will occur every five years, with an initial payment of $1,000. It will increase $750 every five years, eventually maxing out at caps at $3,250.