The collective bargaining agreement between the City of Key West, Florida and the Florida Police Benevolent Association (PBA) contains a clause calling for premium pay for police officers assigned to work on holidays. The contract language refers to holiday “shifts.”
For 16 years, the City’s payroll department had limited the amount of holiday premium pay to eight hours per day, without regard to the length of the shift worked by the officer. When the PBA learned of this practice, it challenged the calculations through the arbitration process.
The Arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator found that the use of the word “shift” required payment of holiday premium pay for all hours worked on the shift, not simply eight hours. Since members of the PBA worked 10- and 12-hour shifts, the Arbitrator required additional premium pay compensation for the hours worked over eight in any one workday.
The City argued that the PBA’s failure to challenge the practice over the last 16 years amounted to a past practice that called for the reformation of the contract. The Arbitrator disagreed, finding that the City had never officially notified the PBA of the decision to limit holiday premium pay to eight hours.
The Arbitrator observed that “the union members who allegedly contacted the City payroll department were given information that was never proven to be given to the union. It would be unfair and unjust to penalize the union for a mistake never made.”
City of Key West, Florida, LAIG 6763 (McGinnis, 2009).
This article appears in the November 2009 issue