Buffalo Protest Officers Absolved In Arbitration

Many in the United States have seen a five-second clip from a video taken by a journalist of Buffalo police officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski (“the Officers”) pushing 75-year-old Martin A. Gugino to the ground during a protest on June 4, 2020. Few, however, have seen the entire video, or bodycam videos taken of the same incident, or heard the testimony of several other Buffalo officers who encountered…

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No Basis To Overturn Arbitrator’s Decision Reinstating Corrections Officer

Ronald James, a corrections offi­cer with Berks County, Pennsylvania, was seated at a desk in the common hall of the prison’s E-Unit when he ob­served an inmate attempting to cover the cell door window with a towel in violation of safety regulations. James opened the cell door electronically from a control panel so that he could direct the inmate to take down the towel. The inmate came out of…

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Q & A

From Michigan:Question: How long can an arbitration decision in one case, be used as a precedent in another similar case within the same agency? For instance, 12 years ago an officer is found to have had sex on duty. Department proposed termination. Arbitrator reduced to a five-day suspension. Same Union, same department. Does that arbitration award hold strength in a current case for a similar discipline or can the…

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Arbitrator Upholds Chicago Police Vaccine Mandate

The sworn members of the Chi­cago Police Department who are not exempt are represented by four unions. The Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge No. 7 represents officers below the rank of Sergeant. The Policemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois has three Units: Unit 156A represents the Sergeants, Unit 156B represents the Lieutenants, and Unit 156C represents Captains. On August 25, 2021, Chicago’s Mayor announced that all City…

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Court Rejects Challenge To Arbitrator’s Opinion In Excessive Force Case

On October 21, 2017, Michael Sta­nitis, a police officer for the Bridgeport Police Department in Connecticut, re­sponded to an incident in which he and other police officers arrested Carmelo Mendez. On October 22, 2020, the Bridgeport Board of Police Commis­sioners terminated Stanitis’ employment upon finding that he used excessive force during Mendez’s arrest, and that he was dishonest in an investigation into his con­duct during the arrest. After Stanitis…

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Firefighter Arbitration Award Upheld As ‘Reasonably Debatable’

The collective bargaining agreement between Carteret, New Jersey and the Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association provides that senior firefighters in the Carteret Fire Department are entitled to acting captain’s pay whenever they assume the role of a fire captain. A dispute arose when the Borough of Carteret created the new position of lieutenant within the Fire Department but did not pay lieutenants at the rate of an acting captain when…

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Prevention Of ‘Prisoner Abuse’ Not Basis To Overturn Arbitrator’s Opinion

On May 1, 2018, York County, Pennsylvania Corrections Officers Marcial Baez and Graig Phillips were responsible for the custody and care of an inmate with mental health issues who had been placed on suicide prevention watch. The two verbally engaged in bantering with the inmate. They used profanity and slurs, taunted and antagonized the inmate, causing him to become agitated to the point that he placed a mattress against…

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Arbitrator Rules In Favor Of Disciplinary Arbitration

When the collective bargaining agreement between the Village of River Forest in Illinois and the FOP expired in April 2019, the parties were unable to reach agreement on a new contract. In dispute was the system of appealing discipline. The prior labor agreements between the Village and the FOP excluded discipline from the coverage of the contract and routed disciplinary appeals to the Village’s Board of Fire and Police…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Opinion Reinstating Officer

Andrew Kline is a police officer with the Township of Uwchlan in Pennsylvania. On October 26, 2018, Kline, Officer Warren Obenski and Sergeant David Balben responded to a domestic violence call. While at the caller’s residence, Obenski seized a black duffel bag on the suspicion that it contained illegal drugs. After arriving at the police station, Obenski processed the bag and reminded Kline that it could not be opened…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Opinion Awarding ‘Cancellation Fees’

The City of Newton, Massachusetts and the Newton Police Association are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. When a dispute broke out between them as to whether officers should receive “cancellation fees” when paid details were cancelled on a last-minute basis, the Association challenged the City’s position in arbitration. An arbitrator sided with the Association, awarding late cancellation fees to three officers for their detail work. The City challenged…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Opinion Forbidding Civilianization Without Fire Union’s Consent

The City of Columbus, Ohio and Local 67 of the IAFF are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. On October 19, 2015, the City indicated that it had decided to civilianize 17 special assignments then filled by uniformed firefighters, including positions as coordinators in programs known as as Fitness, Special Events, Training, Community Relations and Video and the Public CPR trainer. An arbitrator upheld Local 67’s grievance challenging the…

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Arbitrator Reinstates Officer Accused Of Paying Prostitutes

A 17-year veteran police officer working for Columbus, Ohio, referred to only as Officer A, was the subject of an internal affairs complaint. Three different women – Ms. B, Ms. C, and Ms. D – alleged they had sex with Officer A in exchange for cash while he was on duty as a Columbus police officer. All three women reported independent recollections of the encounters with Officer A, and…

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Arbitrator’s Decision On Civilianization ‘Rational’

City of Columbus, Ohio and Local 67 of the IAFF are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. In 2015, the City notified the Local that it intended to civilianize 17 positions. When Local 67 filed a grievance over the civilianization, the matter ended up in arbitration. The Arbitrator found that language in Section 7.2 of the collective bargaining agreement, wherein the City’s agreement “to not civilianize any fire prevention,…

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Arbitrator’s Fire Watch Decision Does Not Violate Federal Law

The collective bargaining agreement between Local 146 of the IAFF and the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts provides that the City must require a fire watch detail at the site of any demolition work in its boundary. The agreement contains provisions requiring the City to “act as custodian of the funds collected as a result of Fire Watch Duty” and to create an escrow account “for payment of all detail…

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Lapse Of State Certification Results In Loss Of Officer’s Job

Adrian Rodriguez became a Miami police officer in 2007. In 2012, the City’s homicide unit received a tip that Rodriguez’s brother and father may have been involved in a homicide in 2007. In 2013, based on the results of an Internal Affairs investigation, Rodriguez was relieved of duty with pay. While on relieved-duty, Rodriguez was observed violating the terms of his relieved-duty status. In 2016, the City terminated Rodriguez….

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Destruction Of Disciplinary Records Violates Public Policy

In 2011 and 2012, Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents officers in the Chicago Police Department, filed grievances seeking the destruction of disciplinary records older than five years. Section 8.4 of the Lodge’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) provides that “all disciplinary investigation files, disciplinary history card entries, Independent Police Review Authority and Internal Affairs Division disciplinary records, and any other disciplinary record or summary of…

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Only Union, Not Firefighter, Has Right To Challenge Arbitration Decision

Sean Gannon was a firefighter for the City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Local 1261 of the IAFF represents the City’s firefighters. The City terminated Gannon in November 2013 and Local 1261 challenged the termination decision through the arbitration process. After several days of hearings, the Arbitrator rendered a decision on March 2, 2016, finding in favor of the City. When Local 1261 elected not to challenge the Arbitrator’s decision…

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Massachusetts Court Retrenches On Dishonesty Arbitration Decisions

Massachusetts courts have had a difficult time achieving consistency as to when an arbitrator’s opinion may be overturned because it violates “public policy.” The difficulties have particularly been evident in how the courts have dealt with arbitrators’ opinions involving the termination of police officers for dishonesty. In a 2005 decision involving Boston police, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts seemingly took a broad view of the court’s ability to…

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Question Of Retroactivity For Arbitrator, Not Labor Board

Rank-and-file police officers in the City of Waterbury, Connecticut are represented by the Brass City Local of the Connecticut Alliance of City Police. On November 10, 2016, an interest arbitrator set the terms for the parties’ 2012-2017 collective bargaining agreement. One of the issues in arbitration involved extra-duty work. The relevant contract clause specified that certain rates of pay for extra-duty work would be “effective upon signing of this…

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Union, Not Member, Has Right To Challenge Arbitration Decision

Arthur Herder began work for the Philadelphia Police Department in 1993. Herder received a 30-day suspension in 2007 for vandalizing his wife’s vehicle. In 2012, the City twice suspended Herder for abusing his authority while off duty. The City also twice transferred Herder for threatening behavior toward his coworkers. In January 2015, the City learned of a road rage incident in Cheltenham Township, a neighboring municipality. During the incident,…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Award Reinstating Trooper Who Cannot Carry Gun

Following his assignment to Troop M of the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), Trooper Craig Acord became romantically involved with Trooper Rachel Jones. After their relationship ended in 2014, Jones filed several complaints against Acord, alleging harassing behavior. As a result, Acord was issued a Supervisor’s Notation instructing him to cease communications with Trooper Jones and was the subject of two internal and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) investigations relating to…

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Arbitrator’s ‘Release Time’ Opinion Upheld

For years, the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between Hudson County, New Jersey and Local 109 of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) has had a provision that “the PBA president shall be granted reasonable release time from work duties to attend to union business during work time, provided that such release time shall in no way interfere with the operation or normal routine of the correctional facility or any other…

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Court Upholds Arbitration Decision Overturning ‘Sexting’ Detective’s Termination

Detective Vincent Lucarelli works for the Cleveland, Ohio Police Department. In May 2012, the Department’s Internal Affairs Unit commenced an investigation into Lucarelli’s conduct. Cell phone records, which had been subpoenaed for a criminal case involving private investigator Brenda Bickerstaff, revealed that during his shifts, Lucarelli had been inappropriately texting or “sexting” women, including the victims in several criminal cases on which he had worked or was currently working….

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Arbitrator Overturns Chicago PD’s Ban On Tattoos

Lodge 7 of the Fraternal Order of Police represents police officers in the Chicago Police Department. Prior to 2015, the Department had no policy banning the display of visible tattoos. Neither Lodge 7 nor the City had ever raised the topic of tattoo regulation during bargaining. On June 8, 2015, the Department issued a revised “Personal Appearance, Uniform/Citizen’s Dress and Equipment” Policy. Among other things, the new Policy regulates…

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Arbitration Not So Binding In Rhode Island

With few exceptions, when a collective bargaining agreement says that an arbitrator’s decision is final and binding, courts will say just that and uphold an arbitrator’s decision even if they thoroughly disagree with the result. But one state – Rhode Island – treats arbitrations, or at least disciplinary arbitrations in law enforcement agencies, completely differently. For Rhode Island courts, those arbitrations are much more like advisory opinions, not binding…

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