Employer Not Allowed To Unilaterally Implement Pension Contributions

The pension plan governing police officers working for the Borough of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania was enacted in 1975. Despite the fact that the plan allowed the Borough to require employee contributions, it was not until 2005 that the Borough first mandated an employee contribution of 5.0%. Lodge 13 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) challenged the employee contribution in arbitration.

An arbitrator sided with the FOP, and ordered the Borough to rescind the mandated contribution and make all officers whole for the contributions made while the grievance was pending. The Arbitrator concluded that it was clear that pension contributions were mandatory subjects for collective bargaining and that, as such, the Borough could not unilaterally make a change in the area without first bargaining with the FOP. The Arbitrator also rejected the Borough’s argument that the FOP should have filed its challenge in 1975, when the pension system was first adopted, holding instead that the FOP had no reason to believe that the Borough would require employee contributions.

Borough of Port Carbon, Pennsylvania, LAIG 6368 (Stanley Schwartz, 2006).

This article appears in the August 2006 issue