Town Violates Contract By Forcing Officers To Work Overtime

The collective bargaining agreement between the Town of Saugus, Massachusetts and the Saugus Police Patrol Officers Union contains a clause that forbids the employer from compelling officers to work overtime unless an “emergency” exists. When the employer ordered employees to work overtime on a number of occasions, the Union challenged the employer’s decision in arbitration.

An arbitrator sided with the Union. The Arbitrator found that the “emergency” exception did not apply, and concluded that budget reductions caused staffing shortages that were the underlying root of the need for overtime.

The Arbitrator also found that the idea that staffing shortages would make it hard for the Department to obtain volunteers for overtime was an event that was neither unforeseen nor unusual. The Arbitrator commented that the “frequency of the need for mandatory overtime was particularly striking because in the ten prior years that the provision was in the agreement, there had been, at most, a dozen instances where a shift had less than four officers and none resulted in mandatory overtime. However, in just ten months following filing of the grievance, there were nearly 40 mandatory overtime shifts.”

The Arbitrator ordered the Town to grant paid time off equal to the number of hours worked on each compulsory overtime shift.

Town of Saugus, Massachusetts and Saugus Police Patrol Officers Union, LAIG 6383 (Irvings, 2006).

This article appears in the November 2006 issue