Firefighters’ Past Practice Grievance Subject To Arbitration

The collective bargaining agreement between the City of Orange, Texas and the Orange Association of Firefighters contains a grievance procedure with fairly standard wording. The contract defines as a grievance: “Any controversy between the City and the Union or any employee concerning the interpretation, enforcement, or application of any provision of this Agreement, or concerning any of the terms or conditions of employment contained in this Agreement.” When the…

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Union Entitled To Sick Leave Records Of Supervisors

Part of the obligation to collectively bargain in good faith is the obligation to exchange information about mandatory subjects of bargaining. This obligation frequently arises in a grievance arbitration setting, where either the employer or the union is seeking records in the other’s possession. A slight twist on the usual case occurred in Newark, New Jersey, where Lodge 12 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) was processing four…

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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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Los Angeles Required To Arbitrate Grievances Challenging Furloughs

After declaring a fiscal emergency, the City of Los Angeles adopted a mandatory furlough program for its civilian employees. Many employees represented by unions filed grievances against the City, arguing that the furloughs violated memoranda of understanding (California’s equivalent of a collective bargaining agreement) governing the terms and conditions of their employment. When their grievances were denied, these employees requested arbitration, and when the City refused to arbitrate, their…

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Non-Member Fails To Follow Grievance Procedure, Loses Termination Case

David Luginbuhl was a full-time police officer for the Gallup, New Mexico Police Department from October 27, 2007, until his termination on June 8, 2011. The City has recognized the Gallup Police Officer’s Association as the exclusive collective bargaining representative for officers and sergeants. Luginbuhl chose not to join the Association, did not pay dues, and never sought the assistance of the Association. The contract between the Association and…

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Without Agreement By The Parties, Arbitrator May Have No Right To ‘Retain Jurisdiction’ Over A Case

A common feature of grievance arbitrations is that, after issuing an award, an arbitrator will retain jurisdiction over the case to resolve disputes about the remedy. What is not always appreciated, however, is that depending upon how the underlying collective bargaining agreement is written, an arbitrator may have no inherent right to retain jurisdiction, but rather can only do so if the parties agree to it. A case recently…

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Grievance Over Shop Stewards Not Preempted By Bill Of Rights

Montgomery County, Maryland and Lodge 35 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. On August 11, 2009, the FOP filed a grievance with an arbitrator pursuant to its collective bargaining agreement alleging that the County violated the Agreement when it unilaterally terminated a 20-year old practice of allowing shop stewards in training to attend disciplinary interrogations conducted by the Police Department’s Internal…

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Corrections Officers Required To Arbitrate FLSA Claim

Corrections officers working for Butler County, Pennsylvania are covered by a collective bargaining agreement between the County and District Council 84 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The grievance procedure of the contract calls for the arbitration of “all disputes relating to the application or interpretation of the CBA and/or any dispute concerning the wages, hours, and working conditions of employees covered by this CBA….

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City Must Arbitrate Grievance Over Retirement Benefits

The City of Portland, Oregon has had a pension fund for police and fire employees for many years. In 2006, following public criticism of the Fund and its board, the City’s voters approved a ballot measure that, among other things, would restructure the Fund’s board and require new employees to become members of the statewide PERS system. After the election, the new Fund board determined that the Fund’s administrator…

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Court Orders Arbitration Of 15 Grievances

The Communications Workers of America represents corrections officers working for the Lexington–Fayette Urban County Government. When the Employer refused to process 15 separate grievances to arbitration, the CWA sued, seeking an order forcing the employer to arbitrate. The Kentucky Court of Appeals sided with CWA and ordered arbitration. The Court found that “it has been established that where the contract contains an arbitration clause, there is a presumption of…

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Arbitrator, Not Courts, Should Decide Whether MOU Settled Grievance

Dale England was a deputy sheriff in Chelan County, Washington and a member of the Chelan County Deputy Sheriff’s Association. England made a prank call to what he thought was a friend. Unfortunately for him, he misdialed his friend’s number and left a threatening message on a stranger’s answering machine. The recipient called police, who reported the call to the Department. Sheriff Mike Harum ultimately fired England. The Association…

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Union Must Label Grievance As Class Action To Receive Class-Wide Remedy

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) filed a grievance solely on behalf of Andrew Markowitz, a police officer with the City of Miami. The grievance claimed that the City was required to provide but denied light-duty work to Markowitz as he recovered from an off-duty injury. The FOP, on behalf of Markowitz, went through each step of the grievance procedure as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement and…

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Employer Can Assign Officers On Light Duty To Different Schedule

The collective bargaining agreement between the Kings Point Police Benevolent Association and the Village of Kings Point, New York has an “hours of work” clause that mandates a 12-hour rotating shift as the “sole schedule” for members of the bargaining unit. When a police officer who suffered a work-related injury that disabled him for more than three years returned to work, the Village assigned him to a four-day, eight-hour…

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Union Must Label Grievance As Class Action To Receive Class-Wide Remedy

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) filed a grievance solely on behalf of Andrew Markowitz, a police officer with the City of Miami. The grievance claimed that the City was required to provide but denied light-duty work to Markowitz as he recovered from an off-duty injury. The FOP, on behalf of Markowitz, went through each step of the grievance procedure as set forth in the collective bargaining agreement and…

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Courts Have ‘No Business’ Overturning Arbitrator’s Interpretation Of Contract

The City of Roosevelt Park, Michigan and the Police Officers Labor Council are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. In February 2009, the Council filed grievances regarding the allocation of overtime between full-time and part-time officers. The grievances were denied at the step one (the Chief of Police) and step two (the City Manager) levels of the grievance process. The grievances were then combined, and the Council requested to…

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Dispute Over Filling Firefighter Vacancies Belongs In Arbitration, Not Court

The City of Kingston, New York, and Local 461 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that runs for four years from the beginning of 2008 to the end of 2011. The CBA includes provisions for no layoffs during its term, minimum on-duty staffing levels, and an obligation that the City fill certain vacancies within 60 days. In May 2009, three…

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Arbitrator Has Right To Decide Timeliness Dispute

The collective bargaining agreement between the State Police Association of Massachusetts and the State of Massachusetts contains an arbitration clause. On December 31, 2002, a State Police detective sergeant assigned to the Worcester district attorney’s office filed a grievance alleging that the Department had failed to pay him for overtime worked. When the grievance was denied, the Association appealed to arbitration. The parties agreed to bifurcate the matter and…

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Public Records Law Trumps Arbitrator’s Decision

In September 2007, Local 890 of the International Association of Fire Fighters filed a grievance challenging a reprimand issued by the Klamath County, Oregon Fire District to a firefighter. During the grievance process, the District discovered new information and rescinded the reprimand. The District removed the disciplinary investigation records from the firefighter’s personnel file and placed them into a separate sealed file. The Association then filed a new grievance,…

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Firefighter Not Coerced Into Resigning

Kelvin Ross, who is African-American, was a firefighter for the City of Perry, Georgia. A fellow firefighter, Renee Kitchens, complained to Ross that a supervisor wore a T-shirt that offended her. The T-shirt depicted a firefighter laying on the front of a fire truck, dressed in shorts, slippers, a hat, and a shirt pulled up exposing his stomach. His legs were spread apart and something appeared to be in…

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Remotely-Assigned Firefighter Does Not Count Towards Staffing Minimums

The collective bargaining agreement between the North Andover Firefighters Union and the Town of North Andover, Massachusetts requires that the Town have a minimum of eight firefighters assigned to fire suppression on duty at all times. On June 3, 2008, the Town assigned one of its firefighters to travel to a nearby town to assist in the repair of a ladder truck. The Union filed a grievance, contending that…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Award Requiring Disciplinary Retraining Of Sheriff, Aides

Jan Bartleson became a Yakima County, Washington sheriff’s deputy in 1995. She generally received positive work reviews until January 2001, when she received a three-day suspension for an on-duty automobile accident. The Yakima County Law Enforcement Officers Guild filed a grievance and the suspension was reduced to one day. Thereafter, Bartleson’s relationship with Sheriff Ken Irwin began to deteriorate. Bartleson exhausted her paid leave due to a combination of…

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Fire Department’s No-Layoff Clause Subject To Binding Arbitration

The Johnson City, New York Professional Firefighters, Local 921 IAFF and the Village of Johnson City are parties to a collective bargaining agreement. The contract provides that “the Village shall not lay off any member of the bargaining unit during the term of the contract.” The Contract also includes a grievance procedure by which disputes “involving the interpretation or application of any provisions of the contract are subject to…

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Court Upholds Arbitrator’s Opinion Reversing Administrative Suspension Without Pay Pending Investigation

Christopher Winesburg is a trooper employed by the Pennsylvania State Police. During the weekend of March 1, 2008, Winesburg was involved in an incident with a woman after both left a nightclub in Ocean City, Maryland. Ocean City police were called to the scene, but they did not file criminal charges against Winesburg. Twelve days later, however, the woman filed a private complaint against Winesburg, and he was charged…

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Employer Must Proceed to Arbitration on Grievance That Is ‘Arguably Arbitrable’

Lake County, Michigan and the Police Officers Association of Michigan are parties to a collective bargaining agreement covering members of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. The parties’ 2003-2005 collective bargaining agreement expired without a new contract. A tentative agreement on a new contract was reached in May 2006, but did not state when the new contract would take effect. However, the agreement provided that a change in the seniority…

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Grievance Procedure Excludes Challenges To Terminations

The collective bargaining agreement between the City of Lowell, Massachusetts and the Lowell Police Association contains a grievance procedure that culminates with binding arbitration. Paragraph 4 in the grievance procedure states that “any matter which is subject to the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission, or any retirement board established by law, shall not be a subject of arbitration.” Paragraph 3 of the grievance procedure states that “grievances involving…

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