Arbitrators’ Awards Update
July 18, 2013

By William G. Bracken

This Client Update summarizes public safety interest arbitration awards that have been issued since our first summary appeared in December 2012. (See Davis & Kuelthau, s.c. Client Alert, December 19, 2012). For a complete understanding of each case, readers are encouraged to read the entire award which is available on the WERC's website at werc.wi.gov.

A. La Crosse County (Deputies), Dec. No. 33888-A, Karen J. Mawhinney, 12/26/12.

Issue County Union
1. Wages
2012 0% 1%
2013 2% 1%
2. WRS: Employee Contribution
2013 5.9% 0%
3. Health/Dental Insurance
Dollar Amounts Percentages

Arbitrator Mawhinney selected the union’s offer under her belief that the County’s offer lacked a sufficient quid pro quo and that there was a lack of sufficient external comparable support for the county’s offer. She found that while internal comparables strongly supported the county, it did not carry as much weight as it had in the past.

B. Dodge County (Deputies), Dec. No. 33914-A, Gil Vernon, 1/28/13.

Issue County Union
1. Wages
2012 0% no step 0.5% with step
2013 1% 2.25%
2. Health Insurance
2013 94% 97%

Arbitrator Vernon selected the union’s offer giving primary weight to wage level changes measured by percentage increases as opposed to relative wage levels. The step freeze in the county’s offer was viewed negatively by the Arbitrator. Internal comparables were viewed with skepticism since “…their bargaining rights are so neutered compared to public safety units that comparisons are at least as tenuous as they were pre-Act 10,” as stated by Arbitrator Vernon in his award.

C. Douglas County (Deputies), Dec. No. 33350-A, Sinclair Kossoff, 1/30/12.

Issue County Union
1. Wages
2011 0% 07/01/11 1%
12/31/11 1%
2012 1% 07/01/12 1%
12/31/12 1%

Arbitrator Kossoff selected the County’s offer giving determinative weight to the internal settlement pattern even though the settlements occurred prior to the effective date of Act 10.

D. Village of Greendale (Fire Dept.), Dec. No. 33924-A, William Strycker, 3/27/13.

Issue Village Union
1. Duration 2 years 3 years
2. Wages
2011 1% 1%
2012 0% 0%
2013 --- 01/01/13 2%
07/01/13 2%
3. Health Insurance
2011 93% of lowest cost HMO Same
2012 88% of plan selected of plan selected by employee Full cost not to exceed 88% of lowest HMO
4. WRS (Employee Share)
Village will pay up to 8% of employee's share Same
01/01/13 – Employee pays 2%
5. Holidays
Add 1 floating holiday Add Dr. Martin Luther King Day
6. Haz-Mat Pay
$200/Year $75/Year

Arbitrator Strycker selected the village’s offer largely due to the internal comparables, noting that protective service comparisons should be given greater weight than general employees. The Arbitrator also preferred the two year duration of the village to “maintain flexibility in order to effectively manage finances.”

E. City of Oshkosh (Police), Dec. No. 33976-A, Sharon A. Gallagher, 6/6/13.

Issue City Union
1. WRS (Employee Contribution)
11/01/12 3% 11/01/12 3%
01/01/13 Full 01/01/14 4.5%
01/01/14 Full

Both parties had agreed to wage increases of 2.0% on 01/01/12 and 0.5% on 11/01/12 and 2.5% in 2013 and 2014. Both parties also agreed to increase the employee’s contribution on health insurance from 7% to 11% in 2012 and 12% in 2013 for employees undertaking the health assessment and from 10% to 14% in 2012 and 15% in 2013 for those who do not.

Despite the presence of internal transit employee and firefighter settlements that were essentially the same on wages, health insurance and WRS as the City’s offer, Arbitrator Gallagher minimized this strong internal settlement pattern and selected the Union’s offer due to her belief that the City’s offer lacked a sufficient quid pro quo.

Lessons Learned

Arbitrators continue to struggle with internal vs. external settlements and the appropriate weight to attribute to each one. Arbitrators also continue to require evidence of a quid pro quo when employers seek WRS and health insurance concessions and differ as to what is or is not a quid pro quo.

In short, these arbitration awards serve as an important reminder that there is no guarantee of the outcome of the final offer arbitration process.

If you have any questions regarding arbitrator awards, please contact your Davis & Kuelthau attorney or William G. Bracken at 920.232.4844/ wbracken@dkattorneys.com.

 

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