No DFR Breach When Fire Union Balances Competing Priorities Of Members

Craig Gault is a firefighter with the City of Portland, Oregon, and is a member of the bargaining unit rep­resented by the Portland Firefighters’ Association. In 2019, Gault became a Fire Investigator, a job that required specific training. Under Oregon law, Fire Investigators are a form of police officer, and carry firearms. Shortly before Gault became a Fire Investigator, the Association filed a grievance challenging the City’s change in…

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What Happens When The Employer Fails To Respond To A Grievance?

Police officers for the City of St. Petersburg, Florida are represented by the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association. The PBA filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the City had violated its bargaining obligation in the handling of a termination grievance. At issue was the City’s failure to answer the grievance at Step 1 of the contract’s grievance procedure. Though the contract requires that the Chief “shall issue…

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City Stuck With Police Director’s Grant Of Grievances

The Newark Police Superior Officers Association (SOA) filed grievances alleg­ing that the City of Newark violated the terms of its contract with the SOA by: (1) refusing to pay active SOA members longevity on payments for compensatory time; and (2) failing to pay two SOA members for unused vacation days upon their retirement. Both grievances were sustained by the City’s Police Director, the decisionmaker at Step Five of the…

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Corrections Union Loses Grievance By Failing To Follow Requirements Of Grievance Procedure

Local 1741 of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) represents corrections officers working for the federal Bureau of Prisons. In May 2016, AFGE notified the warden of a Bureau facility that it was grieving the Employer’s alleged failure to equitably distribute overtime among bargaining unit employees, attaching a draft grievance to its email. About a week later, the warden responded by stating that “the information you have provided…

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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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Arbitrator Finds CBA Implicitly Bars Subcontracting

The City of Grand Rapids, Michigan and the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. In 2019, the police chief notified the Association that work performed by three employees in the Property Management, Traffic, and Detective Units would be transferred to civilian employees who were outside the Association’s bargaining unit. The Association responded by filing a grievance, and the dispute wound up before an…

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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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City Stuck With Police Director’s Grievance Resolution

The City of Newark, New Jersey and the Newark Police Superior Officers’ Association (SOA) are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. The SOA represents officers in the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, and captain. In 2013, the SOA filed a grievance with the City’s then-Police Director Samuel DeMaio alleging that the City had incorrectly calculated the amounts due to members for their 2010 accrued compensatory time payouts. The payouts did…

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Contracts And Memoranda Of Understanding

In February 2017, the City of Brook Park, Ohio, passed an ordinance calling for the City to pay $100 per month for the hospitalization and/or medical insurance benefits for a group of retired employees. Lodge 15 of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents the City’s police officers, filed a grievance challenging the ordinance. The FOP claimed that the ordinance violated the terms of a 2009 memorandum of understanding…

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Refusal To Abide By Grievance Resolution Is Unfair Labor Practice

Newark, New Jersey and the Newark Police Superior Officers’ Association are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. On August 5, 2011, the Association filed two grievances alleging that the City had improperly calculated the lump sum vacation payout of two retired captains. The City’s Police Director granted both grievances. When the City failed to pay the captains the sums claimed by the grievances, the Association filed an unfair labor…

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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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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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Merits Of Grievance For Arbitrator, Not Court, To Resolve

The City of Yonkers in New York and the Yonkers Fire Fighters, Local 628 of the IAFF, are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. Article 33 of the CBA, which contains various provisions concerning the City’s EMS Program, includes a provision stating that the “EMS Program shall mean the level of services provided as of the date of this Agreement.” Local 628 filed a grievance regarding a paramedic training…

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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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What’s The ‘Continuing Violation’ Theory?

“Limitation periods,” whether imposed by the time requirements in a grievance procedure or a statute of limitations, are generally harsh creatures. If someone wanting to file a claim lets a “limitation period” lapse, the result is almost always the dismissal of the claim. One exception to the usual notion that missing a statute of limitations means the complete loss of a claim is known as the “continuing violation” principle….

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No Need To Exhaust Grievance Procedure On Constitutional Claims

Steven Helm is a lieutenant with the Williamsport, Pennsylvania Bureau of Police, and is the President of Lodge 29 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). Helm’s wife has been a prominent critic of the leadership of the Police Bureau. In 2015, Helm filed unfair labor practice charges against the City, alleging that a captain’s negative Facebook posts and other activity by the Bureau was designed to intimidate members…

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Employer’s Beliefs About Grievability No Excuse For Not Processing Grievance

New Castle County, Delaware is party to a collective bargaining agreement with Lodge 5 of the Fraternal Order of Police. On June 27, 2017, Lodge 5 filed a timely grievance on behalf of a probationary officer terminated by the County. The County responded by refusing to “recognize” the grievance and failing to schedule a Step II grievance hearing “or any other hearing associated with the officer’s dismissal.” Lodge 5…

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No More Free Tolls For New Jersey State Troopers

For many years, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and the South Jersey Transportation Authority – independent authorities that operate the State’s major toll roads – allowed State Troopers to travel over those roads in their personal vehicles without paying tolls. As a result, troopers were able to commute to and from work without incurring that expense. Nothing in the State’s collective bargaining agreement with the State Troopers Fraternal Association…

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Captain Entitled To See Notes Taken In Disciplinary Investigation

In June 2015, the Town of Kernersville, North Carolina terminated Fire Captain Kevin Bray, who had served the Fire Department for more than 17 years. Bray’s termination stemmed from a meeting he had with Town Manager Curtis Swisher and the Town’s human resources director to discuss some of Bray’s concerns about the Fire Department. In response to Bray’s concerns, Swisher interviewed other employees and took notes during the interviews….

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Q & A

From Washington Question: Are you familiar with cases where IA investigator pre-interviews complainant for two hours before going on tape but makes no reference to the pre-interview or provides any notes on the pre-interview in the IA file? Answer: This is a practice that used to be fairly common, but by now has largely disappeared in the name of transparency of the IA process. We wouldn’t recommend it. From…

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Arbitrator, Not Court, Determines Whether Grievance Is Timely

In June 2012, the Village of Tequesta, Florida terminated Officer John Cox’s employment. A collective bargaining agreement between Cox’s union and the Village provided for termination “for just cause.” The agreement set forth a three-step grievance and arbitration procedure to be followed in the event an employee challenged his or her termination. When the Village refused to process Cox’s grievance to arbitration, he brought a lawsuit seeking to compel…

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Firefighter Promotional Grievance Held Arbitrable

The City of Lockport, New York and the Lockport Professional Firefighters Association are parties to a collective bargaining agreement that defines a grievance as including “all claimed violations of any contract existing between the City and the employees covered by” the CBA. After the City’s Civil Service Commission created a new Municipal Training Officer position within the Fire Department, the City and the Association negotiated the terms and conditions…

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Disciplinary Transfer Held Subject To Grievance Procedure

Sergeant Charles Jenkins works for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as a property crimes supervisor. In February 2011, after investigating an internal complaint against him, the Department issued Jenkins a written reprimand for violating its harassment and discrimination policy. The reprimand, which Jenkins signed, did not mention a transfer to a new assignment. Nonetheless, the Department transferred Jenkins on the same day he signed the reprimand. The transfer…

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