June 2003 Legal Update

COUNSEL'S CORNER
By: Louis D. Stober, Esq.
CSEA REGIONAL ATTORNEY

STOBER WINS CASE ON POLICE DEPARTMENT UPGRADES

This month, I am devoting this article to an analysis of our win in Class Action 228-01 involving the upgrade of CB Operators and Supervisors in the Police Department. By way of background, a few years ago, the Police Department determined that in order to keep its senior employees and to recognize the increase in technology, hence the increase in difficulty of the job, it undertook an effort to upgrade the CB Operator and Supervisor titles. As testified to at the arbitration, it was the Department's intent to reward the senior employees by upgrading them in such a manner that would give them the largest increases in salary, to wit, a vertical upgrade.

When the upgrades were finally accomplished, it became very clear that the Department's intent was not followed. In fact, three completely different methodologies were utilized in the upgrades. One group of employees received vertical upgrades. One group of employees received upgrades of at least $1,000 each and one group of employees merely received the salary closest to but not less than what they were previously receiving. In fact, one employee received absolutely no increase in salary as a result of the upgrade.

Another unanticipated result of the way the upgrades were actually handled was that in several circumstances, junior employees actually were receiving a higher salary, as a result of the upgrades, than senior employees.

The bottom line was that the entire upgrade was implemented incorrectly and none of the senior employees received the raises that were anticipated or expected.

The arbitrator recognized that fact when the arbitration was heard, and held that the County had violated the Management's Rights clause of the contract when it implemented such an arbitrary and capricious upgrading.

Because of some confusion that has resulted from rumors and other information passing from employee to employee, I want to set forth for everyone what the arbitrator has mandated the County to do and what CSEA is to do when it receives the information the Arbitrator has demanded the County turn over to me.

In this case, the Arbitrator has instructed that a new plan must be devised and implemented retroactively which accurately reflects the intent of the Department.

I am now going to provide a roadmap of what the arbitrator expects:

I. that the existing plan be nullified "after and only after, a replacement plan is created which is both rational and in conformity with the Police Department's original objectives."

A. and "… that the arbitrator will "direct that the Employer take action which hopefully will achieve a result that reflects all of the foregoing considerations."

1. To accomplish this goal, the Arbitrator has set forth the following timeline consisting of two Phases:

PHASE I

a. Within seven (7) days of his receipt of a copy of this Award, the County's Director of Labor Relations shall send a notice to all Departments involved in creating the subject upgrade schedule. (Since we got the decision on June 9th, one can assume that the notice needs to go out by June 16-18, 2003).

b. Within ten (10) days after such notice, the affected departments will have to show how the upgrade placements met the objectives of the Police Department as then spearheaded by Chief McDonald and reflect fairness and uniformity in application. The showing by the department should be made approximately by June 26-28, 2003.

c. If the Director of OLR is satisfied with their explanation, he shall prepare a summary for the Arbitrator which will state whether he believes the explanation meets what the Arbitrator is seeking.

d. A copy of OLR's report is to be sent to the Union, who shall have ten (10) days to submit comments re same to OLR and the Arbitrator.

e. The Arbitrator will then render a supplemental award setting forth the remedy, i.e., what the final upgrade plan will be.

PHASE II

If the Department[s] do not timely respond to OLR's notice or if they fail to provide a satisfactory explanation to Labor Relations and the Police Department, then:

f. OLR and the Police Department will meet and reconfigure the adjustments in a manner that factors in all relevant considerations.

g. The Union will be notified of the New Placement prior to its being implemented.

h. Should the Union wish to challenge the new placements, it may do so in an expedited manner back to the Arbitrator who shall retain jurisdiction to determine whether the new placement should be validated in whole or in part.

i. The Arbitrator will then make a final decision.

If OLR encounters any difficulties in either Phase I or Phase II, it may petition the Arbitrator for guidance.

As can be seen, there will be some length of time before this matter is finally resolved.

I hope this information has answered the questions that are out there. As new information becomes available, we will ensure that it is disseminated as quickly as possible to you the members.