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‘Exploding Offers’ Can Be Bad-Faith Bargaining

In collective bargaining parlance, an offer that expires on a fixed date is known as an ‘exploding offer.’ In a lengthy opinion, the California Public Employment Relations Board analyzed when exploding offers amount to bad-faith bargaining. The case involved the City of Arcadia and the Arcadia Police Civilian Employees Association. In September 2013, the City announced that it wanted to conclude negotiations by November because of City Council elections…

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Firefighter Loses Claim Against Union

Brandon Santiago was a firefighter with the City of Villa Park in Illinois and was represented by Local 2392 of the IAFF. When he was fired, Santiago filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the Illinois Labor Relations Board alleging that Local 2392 breached its duty of fair representation towards him. In essence, Santiago claimed that Local 2392 failed to adequately represent him during an investigation into his on-duty…

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Change In Insurance Carrier Not Negotiable Without Substantial Changes In Benefits

The Hartford Police Union represents the rank-and-file sworn members of the Hartford, Connecticut Police Department. The health insurance clause in the agreement between the Union and the City describes in-network and out-of-network benefits, co-payments, lifetime maximum benefits, and other insurance benefits. The contract language specifically provides that “the City may provide health insurance benefits by other than the named insurance carriers provided the benefits and services provided by the…

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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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Violation of Union’s Bylaws Does Not Amount to Unfair Labor Practice

From time to time, an employee will file an unfair labor practice complaint against his or her labor organization, claiming the organization breached its duty of fair representation by not following its own bylaws. As illustrated by a recent Florida case, this type of unfair labor practice complaint is almost always unsuccessful, with labor boards routinely holding that the duty of fair representation is not implicated even if a…

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Non-Member Has No Right To Challenge Suspension Through Arbitration Under Fire Union’s Contract

Richard Robertson is an Orange County, Florida fire lieutenant. Taking advantage of Florida’s “right to work” laws, Robertson chose not to be a member of the Orange County Professional Fire Fighters, Local 2057 of the IAFF, the labor organization representing the County’s rank-and-file firefighters. On April 12, 2016, the County terminated Robertson, having found that he violated the Department’s rules on performance of duty and truthfulness. Robertson filed a…

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Employer Required To Bargain Over Providing Coffee

As a gesture of goodwill during a period of high mandatory overtime in 2007, King County, Washington began providing coffee to its correctional employees in the Juvenile Detention Center, the King County Correctional Facility, and the Maleng Regional Justice Center. The County provided coffee in the break room at the Juvenile Detention Center and in the “blue rooms” of the King County Correctional Facility and Maleng Regional Justice Center….

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Delay In Complying With Settlement Agreement Is ULP

Angelo Lewis was a police officer with the City of Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. In October 2014, the City terminated Lewis, and his labor organization, Lodge 26 of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), challenged the termination in arbitration. On May 19, 2015, the parties executed a written settlement agreement and canceled the arbitration hearing. The Agreement called for Lewis to retire effective May 6, 2015, for the City to make…

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Fire Union Commits ULP By Failing To Give Negotiators Authority

The Tri-State Fire Protection District, Located in Illinois, is party to a collective bargaining agreement with Local 3165 of the IAFF. During the contract that ended in May 2012, insurance had been a major issue of contention for Local 3165 members. At the first bargaining session for a new contract, Local 3165 suggested that the parties have their respective attorneys review any proposed tentative agreements before they were signed….

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Police Chief Not Required To Speak At Union Meeting

Rank-and-file officers in the Oak Harbor, Washington Police Department are represented by the Oak Harbor Police Association. The Association was scheduled to hold a general membership meeting on May 28, 2015, and invited the Police Chief to attend the meeting. To facilitate the event, the Association provided the Chief with a list of questions almost two weeks prior to the meeting. The Association was anticipating that the Chief would…

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Fire Chief’s Threatening Memo Is ULP

A minimum staffing clause in the contract between Penn Township, Pennsylvania and the Greater Hanover Professional Association of Firefighters, Local 2045 requires that there be four firefighters on duty per shift. Jeffry Parks has been employed as a firefighter for the Township for approximately 15 years. He has also been the vice president of Local 2045 for over three years. On October 7, 2014, Parks began working a 24-hour…

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Inserting New Sentence Into Contract Draft Is Unfair Labor Practice

On March 17, 2014, representatives of the Newark Police Superior Officers’ Association met with Mayor Luis Quintana and other members of the City’s negotiating team. John Chrystal, the Association’s president, and Dave Giordano, the City’s lead negotiator, presented the terms of the successor agreement to the Mayor. The two reviewed the proposed contract “carefully and slowly” and “reiterated several times” the changes in the contract. The Mayor and Chrystal…

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Union Entitled To Copy Of Complaint Against Member

Though the case does not involve public safety officers, a recent decision from an administrative law judge (ALJ) of the California Public Relations Board (PERB) could have significant ramifications in the public safety workplace. In the case, the ALJ ruled that employees filing a complaint against a fellow employee do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their complaints. The case began in October 2009, when two community…

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City Ordered To Reinstate Union President With Back Pay

Katherine Homelius is a corporal for the City of Groveland, Florida Police Department, and is assigned as a detective. Prior to coming to work for the City in 2011, Homelius had worked as a police officer for 13 years in Clermont, a neighboring city, including four and a half years as a detective. The Department began to have serious issues with City management, including Groveland’s mayor, Jim Gearhart. Eventually,…

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No Right For Non-Members To Vote On Contract

Three members of Local 1583 of AFSCME circulated a decertification petition in an effort to have a vote on the removal of Local 1583 as the representative for their bargaining unit. Local 1583 then brought charges against the employees under AFSCME’s constitution, which authorizes charges when a union member engages in “any activity which assists or is intended to assist a competing organization within the jurisdiction of the union.”…

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Unilateral Policy Changes Rescinded Due To Anti-Union Animus

In Pennsylvania, the Palmyra Borough Police Officers Association filed an unfair labor practice complaint alleging Palmyra Borough was motivated by anti-union animus in changing several terms and conditions of employment. In 2013, the Association and the Borough were engaged in contentious negotiations for a new contract. The Borough eventually declared impasse and sought arbitration. Beginning on day one of the arbitration hearing and continuing through day three, the Police…

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Firefighter Wins Back-Pay Award Against Employer And Union

Donald Berg was a Lieutenant with the Long Ridge, Connecticut Fire Company until his termination in 2008. After he was terminated, Berg filed unfair labor practice charges with the State Board of Labor Relations against the Fire Company and the Stamford Career Firefighters Association, his labor organization. Berg alleged that the Fire Company terminated him without just cause and also that the Association breached the duty of fair representation…

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Court Affirms Reinstatement of Terminated Disabled Firefighter

Tom Hurley, a Portland, Oregon firefighter, suffered an on-the-job injury in 1993. Hurley received disability benefits from the City’s Fire and Police Disability Fund (Fund), and also vocational training that allowed him to become a chef. Under the Fund’s rules, the wages Hurley earned as a chef had the effect of reducing his disability benefits, but no lower than a minimum of 25% of his base rate of pay…

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Photographing Participants At Union Rally Is Unfair Labor Practice

In December 2010, the City of Stamford, Connecticut hired Attorney Christopher Dellaselva to work in its Department of Human Resources. Dellaselva was involved in every aspect of the City’s human resources function, including hiring, testing, and attending collective bargaining negotiation sessions and grievance meetings. The unions negotiating with the City, including Local 786 of the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Stamford Police Association, participated in a labor…

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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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Police Union Has Obligation To Discover Potential Unfair Labor Practices

The Oregon State Police Officers Association represents both troopers and a number of support staff working for the Oregon State Police (OSP). In September 2006, members of the Oregon Department of Transportation and OSP employees began implementing a work-sharing program dealing with wireless communications. Under the terms of the OSP/ODOT agreement, its provisions retroactively applied to the work done between September 2006 and January 8, 2007. Meanwhile, in October…

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PERC Orders Union President To Reveal Names Of Complaining Employees

Luis Santiago is the president of the City of Bridgetown, New Jersey Police Benevolent Association (PBA). Santiago initiated a grievance and presented it to Police Chief Mark Ott. The grievance alleged that there was questionable conduct within the internal affairs bureau. Ott then ordered Santiago to provide a special report that included the names of the police officers who approached him with allegations about the alleged questionable conduct. In…

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Individual Must Be Employee For Union Interference Statute To Apply

A Florida statute makes it an unfair labor practice for a public employer to interfere with, restrain or coerce a “public employee” who is engaged in union activity. The Florida Court of Appeals, reversing a decision of Florida’s Public Employment Relations Board, found that an employer’s refusal to hire an applicant could not be covered by the statute. The case involved Jeffrey Stanley, who worked for the Broward County…

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Referring Ballot Measure To Voters Is Not Unfair Labor Practice

Since 2004, the City of Eugene, Oregon has had a civilian police auditor generally involved in the internal affairs process. The implementing ordinance provided that the City Council “may” authorize the auditor to have access to all internal affairs evidence and to participate in interviews. In 2008, the City Council referred to the voters a ballot measure that changed the word “may” to “shall.” The Eugene Police Employees Association…

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In Spite Of Contract Clause, Sheriff’s Union Entitled to See Other Deputies’ Disciplinary Files

Corrections officers working for Milwaukee County, Wisconsin are represented by Local 567 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. A clause in the collective bargaining agreement requires a written authorization from employees before release of personnel records. When a corrections officer received a ten-day suspension after an inmate he was guarding escaped from a medical clinic, Local 567 filed a grievance challenging the disciplinary decision. Local…

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