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Firefighter Wage Award Upheld On Appeal

The City of Plattsburgh, New York and Local 2421 of the IAFF have been in long, delayed, and contentious negotiations for years. In 2016, the parties participated in an interest arbitration hearing that resulted in an arbitration award covering the 2012–2013 contract period. The arbitration panel issued an opinion and award – with one member dissenting – that granted the firefighters a 2% wage increase for 2012 and 2013,…

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Employer Required To Bargain Before Recouping Overpaid Wages

On November 1, 2016, the auditor’s office for Benton County, Washington discovered that the County had overpaid employees in the Sheriff’s Department. The County notified the employees of the overpayments and began a process laid out in Washington’s statutes for recovering the overpayments. The County did not notify the Teamsters Union, which represents some Sheriff’s Department employees. Initially, the County gave employees three options for repayment (1) deduct the…

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Longevity/Performance Pay Need Not Be Included In California Retirement Calculations

The Memorandum of Understanding between the County of Monterey, California and the Monterey County Deputy Sheriffs Association includes a longevity performance stipend that employees who achieved 20 years of service and a satisfactory or outstanding performance evaluation could receive an additional stipend of up to eight percent. CalPERS provides pension fund retirement services for employees of the County and the Sheriff’s Department. The County has never reported the longevity…

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Court Upholds Florida Governor’s Veto Of Firefighter Raises

Local S-20 of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) represents firefighters working for the State of Florida. During bargaining for 2015-2016, Local S-20 sought a $1500 per member raise. Upon reaching impasse, the parties submitted their positions to the Joint Select Committee on Collective Bargaining as required by the statute for resolving impasses. After the Committee completed its work, the Legislature passed what is known as a General…

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Non-Union Troopers Have No Right To Guaranteed Wage Increases

When members of the North Carolina Highway Patrol were hired, their wages were covered by a state statute. Among other things, the statute provided that troopers “shall be granted a salary increase in an amount corresponding to the increments between steps within the salary range.” The pay schedule in the statute also provided that during their employment, the pay of troopers would increase on a “regular, scheduled, graduated basis”…

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Step Increases After A Contract Expires

A question about step increases arises with some frequency. Need an employer continue to pay step increases after a contract has expired but before a new contract is negotiated? A recent decision of an appeals court in New Jersey illustrates how issues such as this fall under what is known as the “status quo” doctrine. The status quo rule requires an employer to maintain existing levels of wages, hours,…

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TRO Requires Illinois To Pay Employees

The 2016 fiscal year began in Illinois on July 1, 2015. The Governor vetoed a budget passed by the Legislature, and the fiscal year began with no State budget in effect. As a result, there was no appropriation in place to authorize the payment of salaries to most State employees. However, State employees were directed to report to work, and they complied with the directive. On July 2, several…

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Civilian Employee Loses ‘Equal Pay For Equal Work’ Lawsuit

An occasional misconception is that there is a principle in the law that there must be “equal pay for equal work.” In fact, with essentially one exception, federal law does not require “equal pay for equal work,” and employers are free to pay identically situated employees different rates. The one exception is that the reason for paying employees differently cannot be based on their protected class status. In particular,…

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Union Misses Deadlines, Loses 4% Raise

In 2010, Local 776 of the Teamsters Union was elected to represent police officers working for the Borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, replacing the Gettysburg Police Officers Association. Local 776 began bargaining with the Borough, and proposed wage increases for 2011, 2012, and 2013. When no agreement was reached, an arbitrator awarded 4% wage increases for 2011 and 2012, and a 3.99% wage increase for 2013. The Borough challenged the…

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Light Duty Work Need Not Carry Premium Pay

David Lade is a deputy sheriff for Nevada County, California. Since 2004, Lade was assigned to a night shift, and received a 5.0% shift differential. The differential was paid regardless of whether he worked, took vacation, used sick leave, or received holiday pay. In August 2011, Lade suffered an on-the-job injury, and was off work until late September, when he returned to work at full duty with no restrictions….

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Supreme Court Makes Donning/Doffing Cases Harder To Prove

For over 50 years, the Supreme Court has held that the donning and doffing of equipment and work clothing before and after a work shift is compensable work under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Section 203(o) of the FLSA provides an exception to that general rule, and provides that work does not include “any time spent in changing clothes or washing at the beginning or end of each…

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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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Court Overturns Wage Increase For Camden Firefighters

Judicial responsibility or a court not understanding what “binding” arbitration means? The characterization of a recent opinion from an appeals court in New Jersey may depend largely on one’s perspective. The case involved a pay raise ordered by an arbitrator for the firefighters in Camden, New Jersey. There’s no question Camden’s financial situation is as dire as it gets. For fiscal year 2010, the City’s total budget was $185…

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State Wage-And-Hour Law Can Be More Generous Than FLSA

A group of police officers sued the City of Richmond, Virginia Police Department, alleging violations of both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Virginia’s state wage and hour law. Police officers employed by the City are generally scheduled to work 80 hours within any given 14-day work period. The City’s policy has been to pay officers at their straight-time rate for all hours up to 86 per cycle,…

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Officer Not Entitled To Full Holiday Plus Additional Pay For Actual Hours Worked

Matthew Lackey is an officer for the City and County of Denver Police Department. On Sunday, May 29, 2011, Lackey began his regularly scheduled shift at 4 p.m. and concluded that shift at 2 a.m. the following morning on Monday, May 30, 2011. In that year, May 30 was Memorial Day, a recognized holiday pursuant to Article 11.1 of the collective bargaining agreement between Denver and the Denver Police…

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Louisiana Fire Department Cannot Base Wage Differentials On Less Than Minimum Wage

A Louisiana statute sets forth the minimum salaries to be paid to each rank of firefighters. The higher ranking firefighters’ salaries are calculated as a specified percentage above the minimum monthly salary of an entry level “fireman,” the lowest designated firefighter. An engineer receives a minimum monthly salary of not less than 10% above that of a fireman, while an assistant or deputy chief not less than 50%. The…

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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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Civil Service Board Has Limited Authority To Correct Sergeant Pay Variations

As put by the Tennessee Court of Appeals, “there is little rhyme or reason to the pay scale of the individuals holding the rank of sergeant in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. Don Gorman, director of administration for the Sheriff, admitted that there ‘absolutely’ is a pay disparity among the class of sergeants. All corporals in the Sheriff’s Office make the same amount. The same is true of those…

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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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