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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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Costs Are Legitimate Reason Not To Arbitrate Grievance

The Sussex County PBA represents all corrections officers, sergeants, lieu­tenants, and captains employed by the Sheriff’s Office. Paul Liobe was a cor­rections officer with the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office in New Jersey and was president of the PBA. On July 25, 2019, Liobe filed a griev­ance alleging that the Sheriff’s Office failed to properly compensate him at the special events overtime rate for an overtime detail. Liobe later demanded…

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When Must Federal Employment Claims Be Arbitrated?

John Brooks and Gregory Simmons were police officers for the City of Pekin, Illinois. Brooks and Simmons sued the City and a number of Department employees in federal court. They alleged that their problems began when Simmons made an internal harassment complaint against his shift commander, Lieutenant Gregory Burris, which later prompted Officer Jennifer Melton to make a false accusation against Simmons. Brooks, who was ordered to investigate Melton’s…

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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 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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Injunctions And Grievances Don’t Usually Mix

It is rare for a labor organization to be able to obtain an injunction to prevent a future contract violation. A decision from the Illinois Appellate Court involving the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge No. 7 provides one example of why. Since about 2009, most patrol officers in the Chicago Police Department have had a work schedule in which they work an 8.5-hour shift for four consecutive days…

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Only Union, Not Terminated Police Commissioner, Can Compel Arbitration

Matthew Nichols was the Deputy Police Commissioner for Warren, Michigan. On July 18, 2018, Nichols responded to a dispatch call regarding a suspected shoplifting and took an active role in arresting the suspects, one of whom later alleged that Nichols used excessive force in effectuating the arrest. After an internal investigation the Department terminated Nichols. Nichols challenged his termination in federal court, alleging the City violated his rights to…

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County Required To Arbitrate ‘Me-Too’ Grievance

The County of Rockland in New York and the Superior Officers Council of the Sheriff’s Corrections Officers Association of Rockland County are parties to a collective bargaining agreement that requires the members of the Association to be paid a certain percentage more than the rate of pay of the corrections officers they supervise. On December 17, 2017, the corrections officers’ union reached an agreement with the County to increase…

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Arbitrator Can Award More Than FLSA Requires

Local 1953 of the International Association of Firefighters represents the firefighters who work for Perkins Township in Ohio. When the parties were unable to reach agreement on a new contract the matter was referred to “binding conciliation,” the phrase Ohio uses to describe binding arbitration. When the Township challenged the Arbitrator’s award, the matter wound up before the Ohio Court of Appeals. The Court upheld the validity of the…

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Arbitrator Can Consider Conduct Of Parties In Construing Contract Language

Pursuant to the terms of the collective bargaining agreement between Local 3111 of the IAFF and Anderson Township, Ohio, Lieutenant William Tillett received notice that disciplinary proceedings were being initiated against him because he had surrendered his fire-inspection certification. When the Department eventually demoted Tillett, Local 3111 challenged the demotion in arbitration. At the arbitration hearing, Tillett testified that he served as president of Local 3111 for approximately 18…

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Unions Have ‘Great Discretion’ In Deciding Whether To Seek Arbitration

Jose F. Valencia sued the Santa Fe Police Officers Association for breach of duty of fair representation. Valencia requested that the Association challenge his termination for dishonesty in arbitration. The Association’s Board scheduled a meeting on February 16, 2010, to consider the request. Two Board members, the President and the former President, recused themselves from the February 16 proceedings as they were the subjects of allegations made by Valencia…

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Officer’s Lawyer Required To Pay $66k In Fees To City

The Village of Orland Park, Illinois fired Officer Joseph McGreal after he spoke at a November 2009 Village board meeting. At the meeting, he suggested several solutions to a budgetary shortfall facing the Village. McGreal’s recommendations would have protected junior officers from layoffs by eliminating benefits enjoyed by more senior officers. McGreal believed that these suggestions motivated his June 2010 termination; however, the Village contended that it fired McGreal…

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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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Staffing Grievance Is Arbitrable

The Watertown Firefighters Association in New York filed a grievance contending that the City violated provisions in its labor agreement relating to minimum staffing levels for shifts and regular operations within the City of Watertown’s Fire Department. The City refused to proceed to arbitration, contending that the staffing clauses were “unenforceable job security provisions that violate public policy.” A New York court ordered the City to submit to arbitration….

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Employer Must Arbitrate Changed EMS Duties

The city of Yonkers, New York and the Yonkers Fire Fighters, Local 628 of the IAFF are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. The management rights clause of the contract allows the City to control the management of the fire department with certain limitations. It also allows the City to alter the Department’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) after negotiation with Local 628. The contract requires that the EMS program…

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Pennsylvania Court Struggles With Arbitrator’s Opinion Reinstating Officer

The Northern Berks Regional Police Commission provides police services to certain parts of Berks County, Pennsylvania. The Commission is a party to a collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police. In September 2016, the Commission terminated Officer Charles Hobart due to misconduct. Specifically, the Department learned that Hobart kept a file folder in his desk containing (1) explicit pictures of females in different stages of undress, (2)…

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If There’s A Last Chance Agreement, What’s Left To Arbitrate?

Thomas Eccleston is a firefighter with the City of Waterbury, Connecticut. Eccleston was arrested and charged with third degree assault and breach of the peace in the second degree, which caused the City to place Eccleston on paid administrative leave pending the completion of an investigation. On November 19, 2015, Eccleston and the president of his labor organization, the Waterbury Fire Fighters Association, signed a last chance agreement. The…

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Arbitration Decision Binding In Later Discrimination Lawsuit

From December 10, 2001 to September 25, 2012, Joshua Billings worked for the Public Safety Department of the Town of Steilacoom, Washington. On May 8, 2012, the City demoted Billings from the rank of sergeant to Public Safety Office (PSO). PSOs served dual roles as police officers and firefighters under the supervision of a Police Chief. Following several internal affairs investigations, the Chief concluded Billings violated numerous policies and…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Opinion Imposing ‘Reasonable Doubt’ Burden Of Proof

In February 2015, the East Dundee and Countryside Fire Protection District in Illinois terminated Lieutenant Anthony Pompa, who had 15 years of service with the District. The District alleged that Pompa engaged in misconduct by emailing a continuing education test answer sheet to two firefighters. Pompa declined to testify at a hearing before the District’s Board of Fire Commissioners. The Board sustained the charges against Pompa, and conducted a…

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Employer Not Allowed To Terminate Contract While Arbitration Pending

Under Illinois law, firefighter and police unions have the right to seek binding interest arbitration if negotiations for a new contract are not successful. When negotiations with the Village of North Riverside came to impasse, Local 2714 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) sought interest arbitration. The Village responded by sending a letter to all firefighters announcing its intention to terminate the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and…

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Cross-Examination Style Not Breach Of Duty Of Fair Representation

Nancy Newfer is a corporal for Wayne County, Michigan Sheriff’s Department. On November 12, 2016, Newfer and another officer were involved in an incident at the jail. Newfer was interviewed by Internal Affairs Division employees about the incident and signed a statement. The other officer was later discharged; his conduct during the incident played at least some role in his discharge. Newfer was not disciplined. Newfer and the disciplined…

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Arbitrator’s ‘Chokehold’ Opinion Upheld

As the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts charmingly started off a recent opinion: In Boston on St. Patrick’s Day in 2009, three friends, Michael O’Brien, Thomas Cincotti and Eric Leverone, “having consumed some alcohol during the daytime celebrations, proceeded to a Faneuil Hall bar where O’Brien received free drinks by virtue of knowing the staff and owners.” Because Leverone had recently returned from active military duty, patrons purchased him…

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Q & A

From Florida Question: I’ve often heard from my union’s legal defense plan that we cannot go to arbitration for a written reprimand because the grievant has no “property loss” and that the arbitrator can’t rescind the written reprimand. Often our members feel like this is an excuse by the legal defense plan because the LDP doesn’t want to spend the money on the arbitration. While a written reprimand doesn’t…

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No Evidence That Arbitrator Was Partial In Chief’s Termination Case

Matthew Cummings was the Police Chief for Newton, Massachusetts. Cummings worked under an employment contract, which specified that any dispute concerning his “termination of employment…shall be resolved exclusively by arbitration under the Voluntary Labor Arbitration Rules of the American Arbitration Association.” The agreement also specified that “the arbitrator’s decision, if in accordance with law, shall be final and binding upon the parties.” When the City terminated Cummings for conduct…

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