(1) The mediator, arbitrator, or arbitration panel may consider only matters that are subject to bargaining under this chapter, except that health care benefits are not subject to interest arbitration.
(2) The decision of an arbitrator or arbitration panel is not binding on the legislature and, if the legislature does not approve the funds necessary to implement provisions pertaining to compensation and fringe benefit provisions of an arbitrated collective bargaining agreement, is not binding on the state, the department of transportation, or the ferry employee organization.
(3) In making its determination, the arbitrator or arbitration panel shall be mindful of the legislative purpose under RCW 47.64.005
and, as additional standards or guidelines to aid it in reaching a decision, shall take into consideration the following factors:
(a) The financial ability of the department to pay for the compensation and fringe benefit provisions of a collective bargaining agreement;
(b) Past collective bargaining contracts between the parties including the bargaining that led up to the contracts;
(c) The constitutional and statutory authority of the employer;
(d) Stipulations of the parties;
(e) The results of the salary survey as required in RCW 47.64.170
(f) Comparison of wages, hours, employee benefits, and conditions of employment of the involved ferry employees with those of public and private sector employees in states along the west coast of the United States, including Alaska, and in British Columbia doing directly comparable but not necessarily identical work, giving consideration to factors peculiar to the area and the classifications involved;
(g) Changes in any of the foregoing circumstances during the pendency of the proceedings;
(h) The limitations on ferry toll increases and operating subsidies as may be imposed by the legislature;
(i) The ability of the state to retain ferry employees;
(j) The overall compensation presently received by the ferry employees, including direct wage compensation, vacations, holidays and other paid excused time, pensions, insurance benefits, and all other direct or indirect monetary benefits received; and
(k) Other factors that are normally or traditionally taken into consideration in the determination of matters that are subject to bargaining under this chapter.
(4) This section applies to any matter before the respective mediator, arbitrator, or arbitration panel.