Case shouldn’t have lasted 10 years

March 25, 2014

I read your Friday article concerning the lengthy legal case between the Washington County Court and its adult and juvenile probation officers. The contents of the article were truly eye-opening. The sad message in all this is the original arbitration decision of 2004 got it right.

The questionable decision of Washington County Court administrators to ignore this arbitration decision cost the taxpayers plenty of money. The costs exceeded $700,000 in back pay, and more in legal fees. One poor employee did not live long enough to see the case settled.

When dealings between a management entity and a bargaining unit require multiple instances of costly arbitration, something is seriously wrong. When there are 10 years of litigation over one matter of contractual interpretation, someone should be held fully accountable.

This should never have been a 10-year issue. The original arbitration finding in 2004 stood the test of a decade of legal proceedings. Nothing in the article proved otherwise. That is what arbitration is designed to do. Those who chose to ignore this did the public a great disservice.

If these workers had not been covered under collective bargaining, they would very likely be $700,000 poorer. A court system that is supposed to be about justice and fair treatment under the law has set a very poor example in its treatment of employees.

Craig Dotson



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