The collective bargaining agreement between the Town of Warminster, Pennsylvania and the Warminster Township Police Benevolent Association (PBA) contains a clause requiring the Town to reimburse employees for the use of their personal vehicles and pay other expenses associated with official business. For many years, the Town had applied the clause to allow reimbursement for things such as gas mileage and meals associated with off-duty court appearances and training.
In 2006, the Town changed its policy to limit mileage and expense reimbursement to “routine work duties” similar in kind to those performed by the officer during the normal job. The PBA challenged the Town’s decision in arbitration.
An arbitrator upheld the PBA’s grievance. The Arbitrator ruled that “the consistent practice spanning at least two collective bargaining agreements indicates that the parties had a clear understanding of the meaning of the language of the contract.” The Arbitrator viewed the employer’s new policy as a change in a mandatorily negotiable subject which was contrary to the parties’ past practice. The Arbitrator concluded any modification of the way the parties had applied the particular contract language had to be announced in advance and bargained.
Town of Warminster, LAIG 6703 (Loewenberg, 2008).
This article appears in the May 2009 issue