Administrative Leave and Shift Bidding

The collective bargaining agreement between the City of East St. Louis, Illinois and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council has several clauses dealing with shift configuration and bidding. The City uses four 12-hour shifts for its 24 patrol officers. “B Shift” is a day shift, from 0600 to 1800 hours. “C Shift” is a night shift, from 1800 to 0600 hours.

A separate clause in the contract sets minimum staffing levels, with equal numbers of officers assigned to each shift. Because of financial constraints, the City runs at or near minimum staffing.

The City had placed one of the 24 patrol officers on paid administrative leave pending a likely attempt by the City to discharge her. The City had not assigned that officer’s position to any particular shift, and the City did not have the funds to allow it to replace the officer until her disciplinary situation was resolved.

The City’s solution had been to run the B Shift short, with just five officers. Another officer – described in the Arbitrator’s opinion only as the “Grievant” – wanted to work the B Shift, and had higher seniority than the officer on administrative leave. When the City refused the officer’s request to bid for the B Shift, the FOP challenged the decision in arbitration.

An arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator observed that “while the contract gives management the right to manage its operations and determine how services will be provided, that right may be limited by other, specific contract language. Here, the Union is correct that there is clear language requiring that employees obtain shift assignments on the basis of seniority. There is also clear language requiring an equal number of employees per shift, and additional language mandating notice to and negotiation with the Union concerning the impact of any Employer decision to revise its work schedule, which did not occur here.

“Taking all of this together, whatever the Employer’s motives, its decision to keep the vacant position on the day shift amounted to an assignment of the officer on leave to that position. That action violated the contract and, in particular, the Grievant’s bidding rights. The B shift position shall be made available for bidding and if, as the record indicates will be the case, the Grievant is the senior bidder, he will be awarded the position.”

Illinois FOP Labor Council and City of East St. Louis, Grievance Nos. 17-1 and 17-2 (Zimmerman, 2017).