Delay In Complying With Settlement Agreement Is ULP

Angelo Lewis was a police officer with the City of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. In October 2014, the City terminated Lewis, and his labor organization, Lodge 26 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), challenged the termination in arbitration. On May 19, 2015, the parties executed a written settlement agreement and canceled the arbitration hearing.

The Agreement called for Lewis to retire effective May 6, 2015, for the City to make Lewis whole for all lost wages and benefits, and for the City not to contest Lewis’ application for retirement benefits. The Agreement specified: “Any and all monetary payments and other obligations of the City under this Agreement shall be fully tendered and completed within thirty (30) days of the full execution of the written settlement agreement.”

On July 2, 2015, Lewis received a “make whole” payment amount of $4,840.48, but the payment was not itemized. The FOP requested an itemization of the payment, including deductions, but the City failed to respond. A second request from the FOP was met with an itemization that contained significant errors. When the FOP’s further complaints did not produce a correctly-calculated itemization nor adequate information about the City’s position on Lewis’ pension, the FOP filed an unfair labor practice complaint.

An administrative law judge (ALJ) for Pennsylvania’s Labor Relations Board found that the City’s failure to comply with the settlement agreement was an ULP. The ALJ ruled that “the Board has consistently held that an employer’s refusal to comply with a grievance settlement at a lower stage in the grievance procedure is an unfair practice. In this matter the Union has presented substantial and legally credible evidence that the Agreement exists and that the City had not complied with the terms of the Agreement. Specifically, the City has not processed Lewis’ pension and he has received no pension payments as provided for by the Agreement.

“At the hearing on November 13, 2015, the City did not contest that it had not fully complied with the Agreement that was fully executed May 19, 2015. This is a delay of approximately six months and is unreasonable. Moreover, the City has not raised any defense for its actions or even an adequate explanation or justification. It has simply failed to fully comply after nearly half a year, multiple inquiries by the Union, a charge before the Board, and a hearing.”

By way of remedy, the Administrative Law Judge ordered the City to “immediately comply with all terms of the Agreement including, but not limited to, taking all actions necessary to pay Lewis his proper pension proceeds in accordance with the Agreement, immediately pay to Lewis interest of 6% per annum upon any unpaid monetary amount from May 19, 2015, to the date of payment; and post a copy of this Decision and Order within five (5) days from the effective date hereof in a conspicuous place readily accessible to the bargaining unit employees and have the same remain so posted for a period of ten (10) consecutive days.”

City of Aliquippa, 47 PPER ¶ 75 (Pa. LRB ALJ 2016).