Labor law was a second year elective and I have had very little contact with labor issues since. But I have seen the inside of a courtroom once or twice and know that it's to the principals' benefit to try to resolve issues before their lawyers stand up and introduce themselves to the person in the black robe.
Martha, there is absolutely no labor law or practice that prevents the parties from sitting down before the Hearing date to try to resolve your differences. For legal reasons, the request must come from the Union and, given the history, it seems like the best thing to do would be for the meeting to take place without the lawyers. What can either side lose? I'm sure that you have a confidentiality agreement and settlement discussions are never admissable. Even if you just sit with the Mayor and listen to what she has to say. Isn't there a benefit in that?
The entire Town -- including the AFSCME Members -- will benefit from resolving this matter ASAP.
"Dear Mayor Murphy: Without prejudice to any claims, we would like to meet with you to discuss and perhaps resolve pending issues. We would like to do this without the attorneys."
How about it?