Without Bargaining, Officers Have No Right To Challenge Implementation Of Education Incentive Policy

On June 19, 2000, the Asheville, North Carolina Police Chief distributed a memorandum entitled “Changes in Policies and Procedures Regarding Recruitment, Retention and Career Development.” The memorandum stated that any new officer hired after July 1, 2000 with a Bachelor’s Degree would receive five percent above the minimum starting salary, and that any new hire with a Master’s Degree would receive ten percent above the minimum starting salary.

A group of current Asheville officers without college degrees filed a grievance, asserting that they too should receive additional compensation. The city manager denied the grievance, and the officers appealed to the Civil Service Board.

The Board concluded that it had no jurisdiction to grant any relief, and found that the officers had not been denied a promotion or pay raise to which they were entitled. The officers then appealed through the court system.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals also rejected the grievance. No North Carolina law allows the unionization of city police departments. In the absence of such a law, decisions on matters such as wage increases are vested exclusively with employers, subject only to limitations such as civil service rules.

The Court found that the officers had no entitlement to a pay raise, reasoning that “no evidence indicates that defendants, as current employees, were eligible for this pay policy directed towards new candidates for employment. Moreover, the officers have failed to show that any such pay policy based upon educational degree was approved by the Asheville City Council. In cities which operate pursuant to a council-manager form of municipal government, any new increase in salary for a class of employees must be approved by the city council prior to becoming effective. Thus, the officers were not entitled to additional compensation under an administrative policy of the Wilmington Police Department where the policy had not been approved by the Wilmington City Council.”

City of Asheville v. Bowman, 616 S.E.2d 669 (N.C.App. 2005).

This article appears in the November 2005 issue