The Township of Clinton, Michigan has had a policy that allows police officers and firefighters with less than five years’ service to purchase up to six years of credited service time for retirement purposes. In 1992, the City and the labor organization representing police command officers entered into a grievance settlement concerning military service time credits. Under the settlement, employees would be allowed to purchase credited service time provided it was purchased between the sixth and eleventh year of their tenure with the Township.
When a firefighter applied to purchase military service time credit, but did so more than 11 years after his date of hire with the Township, the Township denied his request. His labor organization, Local 1381 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, challenged the denial in arbitration.
An arbitrator upheld Local 1381’s grievance. The Arbitrator concluded that the settlement with the police command officers’ union did not bind Local 1381 in the absence of any evidence that Local 1381 explicitly or implicitly agreed to the terms of the settlement. The Arbitrator held that the ability to purchase military service time credits was a mandatory subject of bargaining, and that there was a longstanding past practice in the Fire Department of allowing the purchase of credits without regard to the employee’s tenure. The Arbitrator concluded that the Township breached its contract with Local 1381 by denying the firefighter’s request to purchase service time credits.
Charter Township of Clinton, Michigan and Local 1381, IAFF, LAIG 6632 (Kerner, 2007).
This article appears in the October 2008 issue