Arbitrator Finds in Favor of Los Alamos County in Firefighter Dispute


An arbitrator has determined that Los Alamos County acted within its rights in terminating a firefighter who lost his security clearance at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Edwin Render delivered his opinion recently following a February hearing.

The Los Alamos Firefighters Association, Local 3279 initiated the arbitration under the terms of the association’s collective bargaining agreement with the County after the employee lost his security clearance for failing to comply with a request from LANL staff that he submit a urine sample as part of a random drug screening process. The union alleged that the County had changed its drug testing procedures without agreement from the union. Render ruled that the changes in the procedures did not constitute a modification of the union contract.

County Administrator Harry Burgess said he was pleased that the arbitrator’s ruling in the case supported the County’s position.

“Our fire department has a long history of providing contractual fire emergency services to LANL and our local community. We are proud of the fact that we have a strong, responsive department ready to enter and defend LANL property and lives,” Burgess said. “Because of that unique contract with the Laboratory, our drug testing procedures support the requirement that our firefighting personnel maintain a Q clearance in order to protect Lab property.”

LAFD Chief Troy Hughes said that the County will continue to coordinate with the union to address important personnel issues.

“The Los Alamos Firefighter’s Association Local 3279 and the Fire Department management team continue to meet monthly to resolve labor issues before they reach the arbitration level. These monthly meetings have been successful in that no new labor issues have reached the arbitration level in 2012 or 2013,”Hughes said.

Los Alamos County was represented by Assistant County Attorney Dan Gonzales in the arbitration and the Union was represented by Barry Paisner of the Hinkle firm in Santa Fe.

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