Remedy For Firefighter Staffing Violation Not Payment Of Lump-Sum Overtime

The contract between the City of Ecorse, Michigan and the Ecorse Fire Fighters Union has a minimum staffing provision calling for five firefighters per shift. When the City began facing economic difficulties, it began disregarding the minimum staffing rules. The Union filed a grievance, seeking a remedy of a lump-sum overtime payment to divide among its members. The Union argued that the $90,000 to $100,000 payment it was seeking compensated for the “unjust enrichment” it contended was received by the City when it assigned only four firefighters per shift.

While an arbitrator agreed that the City violated the staffing clause, he rejected the Union’s proposed remedy. The Arbitrator cited the employer’s financial distress as the basis for his decision, describing the lump-sum overtime payment as something that “could represent a punitive remedy to a city that is already mired in debt.” In lieu of the lump-sum payment, the Arbitrator ordered the City to allow the impacted firefighters to make up their lost overtime through future overtime assignments.

City of Ecorse, Michigan, LAIG ¶6982 (Glazer 2011).