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City Required To Abide By Wage Terms In Contract

The Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association and the City of Albuquerque were parties to a collective bargaining agreement running from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2011. The contract contained a provision that provided compensation increases for the second and third fiscal years. The City implemented the two salary increases contemplated by the Contract during the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years. However, at the time of the April 1, 2010…

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The Importance Of How A Grievance Procedure Is Worded

Often, the parties to collective bargaining agreements pay little attention to how a grievance procedure is worded, simply renewing the old version of the grievance procedure each time a new contract is negotiated. A recent case from the Illinois Court of Appeals illustrates why the specific wording of a grievance procedure can be critical in how a contract will be interpreted. The case involved William Kovarik, a police officer…

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Contract Creates Property Right In Recall From Layoff

Alan Clukey was a police dispatcher with the Town of Camden, Maine Police Department for 31 years until the Department was eliminated in 2007 and he was laid off. At the time of his layoff, Clukey was the most senior employee in his department. The terms of Clukey’s employment with the Town were governed by a contract between the Town and the Fraternal Order of Police. One clause in…

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Grievance Challenging Reduction Of Retiree Health Benefits Not Arbitrable

Public safety employers seeking financial relief have more than occasionally sought to reduce retiree health care benefits. Those reductions have in turn resulted in grievances, which in turn have prompted responses by employers that since retirees are not covered by the collective bargaining agreement, the grievances are not arbitrable. Most courts have required employers to arbitrate grievances over changes in retiree health care benefits. The usual reasoning is that…

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Policy Manual Can Wipe Out Oral Contract

Frederick Harms worked as a deputy sheriff for Power County, Idaho. The County’s deputy sheriffs have no labor organization. When Harms was hired in 1990, he had no written contract, but a supervisor informed him that once he completed a probationary term, he would not be terminated except for cause. In 1999, the County adopted a Personnel Manual. The first page of the Manual contained a general disclaimer stating:…

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Divided Appeals Court Rejects Challenge To Wisconsin Bargaining Restrictions

In 2011, the Wisconsin Legislature passed Act 10, a bill proposed by recently-elected Governor Scott Walker. Act 10 significantly altered the state’s public employee labor laws, creating two distinct classes of public employees – a select group of “public safety employees” with the remainder classified as “general employees.” Among other things, the Act prohibited general employees from collectively bargaining on issues other than “base wages,” imposed rigorous recertification requirements…

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NLRB Abandons 50-Year-Old Precedent, Holds Dues Deductions Continue After Contract Expiration

In 1962, in a case known as Bethlehem Steel, 136 NLRB 1500 (1962), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) held that an employer’s obligation to make union dues deductions ended with the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement. Bethlehem Steel created an exception to the usual rule that an employer must maintain the status quo on all mandatory subjects of bargaining during the period between contract expiration and when…

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When Is A Canine Care Agreement ‘Reasonable’?

Under the FLSA, the time spent by canine officers off duty caring for and training their police dogs is considered compensable work. The Department of Labor’s regulations have special provisions governing compensation for work performed at home. Section 785.23 of the regulations provides: “It is, of course, difficult to determine the exact hours worked under these circumstances and any reasonable agreement of the parties which takes into consideration all…

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Student Loan Repayment Program Requires Union Negotiations

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of New York (PBA) represents officers with the NYPD. On October 22, 2007, the NYPD and the New York City Police Foundation issued a joint announcement for the commencement of a College Loan Reimbursement Program for NYPD recruits entering the January 2008 Police Academy class. The Program provided up to $15,000 over five years for each applicant to reimburse lenders holding the police officer’s student…

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End Of Contract Benefit Need Not Be Permanent

The County of Hunterdon, New Jersey negotiations separate labor agreements with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) for bargaining units of corrections officers and deputy sheriffs. Several years ago, the FOP agreed to the County’s request to end an “incremental salary schedule” with a number of pay steps. In the most recent negotiations, the FOP sought to regain the benefit. When the County refused to agree, an interest arbitrator…

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Pennsylvania Deputies Are ‘Police’ For Bargaining Purposes

Pennsylvania’s basic public safety collective bargaining law is known as Act 111. Act 111 grants to “police officers” and firefighters the right to binding interest arbitration in the event that negotiations fail to produce a voluntary agreement. When the Allegheny County Deputy Sheriffs’ Association sought Act 111 rights for the County’s deputy sheriffs, the matter wound up before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. A divided court sided with the Association…

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How Does A ‘Savings’ Clause Work?

Almost every public safety collective bargaining agreement or memorandum of understanding has what is colloquially called a “savings clause.” The wording of savings clauses varies, but essentially the clauses “save” the remainder of the contract in the event that one particular provision in the contract becomes illegal under federal or state law. Some savings clauses go further and obligate the parties to negotiate a substitute for the illegal provision….

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Court Leaves Intact Most Of Wisconsin’s New Law Eliminating Collective Bargaining

In 1959, Wisconsin became the first state to recognize the right of public employees to collectively bargain. In 2011, with the support of newly-elected Governor Scott Walker, the Wisconsin Legislature passed what was known as the “Budget Repair Bill.” The Bill created of two new classifications of public employees: “General” and “public safety.” Under the Bill, the State left the rights of public safety employees to unionize and collectively…

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Contract Requires That Lateral-Entry Firefighter’s Wages, Benefits Be Reduced

All firefighters employed by the Town of Andover, Massachusetts, except the Fire Chief, are represented by the Andover Fire Fighters, Local 1658, for purposes of collective bargaining. Ordinarily, the wage steps for a firefighter entering service with the town are P, A, B, and C, with newly-hired firefighters beginning employment at the P pay step and remaining there for one year. In each successive year, the firefighter moves up…

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Paramedics Are Firefighters For Purposes Of Pennsylvania Bargaining Law

Local 22 of the International Association of Fire Fighters is the bargaining representative of all uniformed fire personnel employed by the Philadelphia Fire Department, including firefighters and about 200 paramedics. Both firefighters and paramedics have been included in the Local 22 bargaining unit for over 20 years. However, on March 12, 2009, the City filed a unit clarification petition with Pennsylvania’s Labor Relations Board, seeking to have all paramedics…

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Changes In Staffing Rule Subject To Arbitration

Beginning in 1999, the Chief of Police of the Village of Horseheads, New York issued a series of general orders setting forth various rules and regulations relative to departmental operating procedures and policies. The rules included General Order A–13.1, which required that a minimum of two officers be assigned to patrol duty for each shift. In 2011, a new chief reissued General Order A–13.1, reducing the minimum staffing requirement…

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Arbitrator Rejects Proposal To Remove Lieutenants From Bargaining Unit

Baltimore County, Maryland and Lodge 4 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) bargain under a local collective bargaining code. One provision of the code defines the rand-and-file law enforcement collective bargaining unit as including lieutenants. Notwithstanding the code provision, the County made a bargaining proposal to the FOP to remove lieutenants from the bargaining unit. When the FOP refused to agree, the matter ended up in arbitration. For…

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Non-Union Battalion Chiefs Entitled To Union Benefit

Battalion chiefs assigned to Honolulu Fire Department are excluded from civil service protection, and are not part of the rand-and-file bargaining unit. On June 25, 2003, the Department implemented a “Rank for Rank Recall Program,” which entitled Department firefighters to work overtime to fill vacancies left by similarly ranked counterparts who had taken vacation leave. The Rank for Rank Program modified the rank-and-file collective bargaining agreement. On July 10,…

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DROP Benefits Are Mandatory For Bargaining

Local 293 of the International Association of Fire Fighters represents firefighters working for the City of Erie, Pennsylvania. A clause of Local 293’s collective bargaining agreement provided that the firefighters’ pension fund “shall be governed in accordance with statutes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and City of Erie ordinances or regulations now presently in effect and promulgated.” In 2004, the City enacted an amendment to its ordinances to provide…

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Collective Bargaining Agreement Trumps State Wage And Hour Law

It is well known that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) prevails over any contrary provision in a collective bargaining agreement, to the extent that the agreement calls for lower compensation than that mandated by the FLSA. But what if the wage and hour law is not the FLSA, but instead is found in state statutes? The results seemingly vary from state to state as to whether a…

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Because of Wording In Contract, Merit Pay Increases Cease With Expiration Of Contract

When a collective bargaining agreement expires, the usual rule is that an employer is obligated to maintain the status quo with respect to wages, hours, and other mandatorily negotiable working conditions. A fairly extensive body of case law has established that step increases are considered to be a “wage” that must be maintained after the expiration of a collective-bargaining agreement. In other words, if the past practice is that…

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Ohio Law Slashing Collective Bargaining Headed For November Ballot

The Ohio Secretary of State’s Office has certified for the November 2011 ballot a referendum petition seeking to overturn Senate Bill 5, the sweeping bill signed into law on April 1 which dramatically cuts the collective bargaining rights of public safety employees. Opponents of SB 5 submitted 915,456 valid signatures in support of the referendum; Ohio law required only 231,147 signatures. SB 5 was the product of contentious and…

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