Anne Arundel County Executive Laura Neuman has vetoed a bill that would boost a retirement perk for public safety unions because she said the County Council improperly added a firefighters' union to the bill even though the union hadn't asked for it.

Neuman said in a statement on Tuesday that the council's addition of Local 1563 of the International Association of Fire Fighters to the bill "undermines the labor relations process of contract negotiations."


During union negotiations earlier this year, agreements for some unions included adding a sixth year to the county's deferred retirement option plan. Called "DROP," the program allows retirement-eligible public safety workers to keep working for a salary while banking their pension benefits once they reach retirement age.

IAFF and the county ended up in arbitration. The county offered the sixth year of the pension deferment program, but the IAFF did not request it.

Keith Whalen, Local 1563's president, said it was a strategic move that was made in hopes of winning a dispute over how much down time firefighters get between shifts.

Though the arbitrator, the firefighters ultimately won their schedule request to have 72 hours off between 24-hour shifts instead of 48 hours off. But the arbitrator's award did not include the sixth year of the pension deferment.

When Neuman introduced the bill adding the sixth year for the DROP plan for other unions, the County Council voted 4-3 to add the IAFF to the bill. The amended bill then passed, 7-0, on July 1.

But Neuman vetoed the bill, saying the firefighters union couldn't be included because the provision wasn't part of the negotiated deal.

"I believe we negotiated in good faith," she said Tuesday. "They got the deal they negotiated."

"We appreciate the support given to us by the four council members," Whalen said. "We're disappointed that Ms. Neuman did not let the bill go forward and sign it."

Neuman plans to reintroduce her initial bill.

County Council Chairman Jerry Walker, a Gambrills Republican, voted against the amendment.

"This is sort of bypassing the arbitration," he said, adding he supports Neuman's veto.