(1) If, after a reasonable period of negotiation concerning the terms and conditions of employment to be incorporated in a collective bargaining agreement, a dispute exists between a public employer and a bargaining agent, an impasse shall be deemed to have occurred when one of the parties so declares in writing to the other party and to the commission. When an impasse occurs, the public employer or the bargaining agent, or both parties acting jointly, may appoint, or secure the appointment of, a mediator to assist in the resolution of the impasse. If the Governor is the public employer, no mediator shall be appointed.
(2)(a) If no mediator is appointed, or upon the request of either party, the commission shall appoint, and submit all unresolved issues to, a special magistrate acceptable to both parties. If the parties are unable to agree on the appointment of a special magistrate, the commission shall appoint, in its discretion, a qualified special magistrate. However, if the parties agree in writing to waive the appointment of a special magistrate, the parties may proceed directly to resolution of the impasse by the legislative body pursuant to paragraph (4)(d). Nothing in this section precludes the parties from using the services of a mediator at any time during the conduct of collective bargaining.
(b) If the Governor is the public employer, no special magistrate shall be appointed. The parties may proceed directly to the Legislature for resolution of the impasse pursuant to paragraph (4)(d).
(3) The special magistrate shall hold hearings in order to define the area or areas of dispute, to determine facts relating to the dispute, and to render a decision on any and all unresolved contract issues. The hearings shall be held at times, dates, and places to be established by the special magistrate in accordance with rules promulgated by the commission. The special magistrate shall be empowered to administer oaths and issue subpoenas on behalf of the parties to the dispute or on his or her own behalf. Within 15 calendar days after the close of the final hearing, the special magistrate shall transmit his or her recommended decision to the commission and to the representatives of both parties by registered mail, return receipt requested. Such recommended decision shall be discussed by the parties, and each recommendation of the special magistrate shall be deemed approved by both parties unless specifically rejected by either party by written notice filed with the commission within 20 calendar days after the date the party received the special magistrate’s recommended decision. The written notice shall include a statement of the cause for each rejection and shall be served upon the other party.
(4) If either the public employer or the employee organization does not accept, in whole or in part, the recommended decision of the special magistrate:
(a) The chief executive officer of the governmental entity involved shall, within 10 days after rejection of a recommendation of the special magistrate, submit to the legislative body of the governmental entity involved a copy of the findings of fact and recommended decision of the special magistrate, together with the chief executive officer’s recommendations for settling the disputed impasse issues. The chief executive officer shall also transmit his or her recommendations to the employee organization;
(b) The employee organization shall submit its recommendations for settling the disputed impasse issues to such legislative body and to the chief executive officer;
(c) The legislative body or a duly authorized committee thereof shall forthwith conduct a public hearing at which the parties shall be required to explain their positions with respect to the rejected recommendations of the special magistrate;
(d) Thereafter, the legislative body shall take such action as it deems to be in the public interest, including the interest of the public employees involved, to resolve all disputed impasse issues; and
(e) Following the resolution of the disputed impasse issues by the legislative body, the parties shall reduce to writing an agreement which includes those issues agreed to by the parties and those disputed impasse issues resolved by the legislative body’s action taken pursuant to paragraph (d). The agreement shall be signed by the chief executive officer and the bargaining agent and shall be submitted to the public employer and to the public employees who are members of the bargaining unit for ratification. If such agreement is not ratified by all parties, pursuant to the provisions of s. 447.309, the legislative body’s action taken pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (d) shall take effect as of the date of such legislative body’s action for the remainder of the first fiscal year which was the subject of negotiations; however, the legislative body’s action shall not take effect with respect to those disputed impasse issues which establish the language of contractual provisions which could have no effect in the absence of a ratified agreement, including, but not limited to, preambles, recognition clauses, and duration clauses. (5)(a) Within 5 days after the beginning of the impasse period in accordance with s. 216.163(6), each party shall notify the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives as to all unresolved issues. Upon receipt of the notification, the presiding officers shall appoint a joint select committee to review the position of the parties and render a recommended resolution of all issues remaining at impasse. The recommended resolution shall be returned by the joint select committee to the presiding officers not later than 10 days prior to the date upon which the legislative session is scheduled to commence. During the legislative session, the Legislature shall take action in accordance with this section.
(b) Any actions taken by the Legislature shall bind the parties in accordance with paragraph (4)(c).