The Houghton County, Michigan Sheriff’s Department issued a memorandum that only two deputies could be off on vacation at any one time. The Upper Michigan Law Enforcement Association, which represents County deputies, challenged the County’s decision through the grievance procedure.
An arbitrator upheld the grievance. The Arbitrator found that the contract’s vacation articles allowed vacation times to be picked based upon seniority. In the eyes of the Arbitrator, “it follows that, absent specific contract language stating otherwise, vacation requests must be acted upon individually, based upon conditions in effect at the time of the request.”
A blanket rule, such as the two-deputy limit, the Arbitrator concluded, was inconsistent with the notion of individual assessment of vacation requests. It was also significant to the Arbitrator that the County raised the issue in prior bargaining sessions, but was unable to obtain contract language granting it the right to establish minimum thresholds of the number of deputies who could be off on vacation at any one time.
County of Houghton, Michigan, LAIG 6574 (Stratton, 2007).
This article appears in the May 2008 issue