Kewaunee County (Sheriff’s Department)
Case 36 MIA-1771 Dec. No. 27603-A (Slavney, 07-03-93)
The parties agreed that the contract’s duration should be three years, from January 1, 1993 through December 31, 1995. The parties agreed that the law enforcement personnel should receive across-the-board increases on January 1 of each year of the contract, in the amount of 4% each year. The parties agreed that back-pay should be provided to employes in a separate check. The parties also agreed to delete language indicating that regularly occurring open shifts must be filled by permanent part-time employes and that the work must be distributed to such permanent part-time employes equally. The parties agreed to amend the contract’s health insurance language to provide for a 100% employer-paid single health plan and a 90% employer-paid family health plan. Both percentages and dollar figures were stated in the agreed-upon clause. The parties agreed to amend a time limit in Article V, Section D, from 30 days to nine days. The Union agreed to voluntarily dismiss a WERC unit clarification case regarding the status of the Criminal Investigation Unit Commander position.
Whitefish Bay School District
Case 29 INT/ARB-6619 Dec. No. 27513-A (Krinsky, 07-07-93)
Employer offer selected.
The parties agreed that the salary issue is not the major issue. The District sought an employe contribution on health insurance, and proposed that it pay 96% of the premium in the first year and 92% in the second year. The Association proposed base premium amounts of $505 and $195 for family and single policies, and that the District pay 90% of monthly premium exceeded those figures.
The Arbitrator used the comparable Districts of Fox Point-Bayside, Glendale-River Hills, Maple Dale-Indian Hill, Nicolet UHS, Shorewood, Mequon-Thiensville, Germantown, Cedarburg, Grafton, and Saukville-Port Washington.
The Association’s salary offer was slightly closer to median increases of the comparables in both years; however, health insurance was the major issue. The median of 9 settled comparables in the 1992-93 year is 5% for an employe contribution to insurance, with five settled Districts showing 10% in the 1993-94 year. The District’s offer was 4% for the first year and 8% for the second, while the Association’s offer would amount to about 1% the first year and 2% the second year. Thus, the District’s offer is closer to the comparables.
While the Association argued that Districts which have higher employe health insurance contributions pay much higher salaries, neither party presented figures for the comparable Districts showing overall compensation per teacher. The data for the average salary increase less the increase in family health premium shows the Association offer closer to the median. While there is a negative effect on the Whitefish Bay teachers, the impact is not of such a magnitude that it should not be implemented for that reason. If the District’s offer is reasonable in relationship to the comparables, it should be implemented and the teachers will have to absorb the impact.
The Association also proposed that teachers be paid twice a month, instead of once a month as the current practice. The Arbitrator favored the Association’s position on this issue, as supported by most of the comparables and is not a major cost item. The Association offered no quid pro quo for this proposal and did not need to do so, according to the Arbitrator.
The Arbitrator further found that the District did not need to offer a quid pro quo for its insurance proposal. Cost sharing is common in the comparable Districts, and both parties proposed a change in the status quo. The size of the contribution was the issue. The District reduced the impact on teachers by agreeing to a Section 125 plan.
Milwaukee Public Schools
Case 234 INT/ARB-6003 Dec. No. 27142-A (Tyson, 07-9-93)
Employer offer selected.
Issues in dispute: wages and health insurance. The parties also argued about appropriate comparables.
The parties agreed that the major item in dispute was the District’s proposal that the employes contribute 5% toward the health insurance premium beginning July 1, 1992. Both parties argued for maintaining the internal pattern of settlements for health insurance purposes, though they differed on which groups constituted the internal pattern. The District asserted that the appropriate internal group is all of its classified employes (non-professional groups) while the Association asserted that the appropriate internal pattern is all District employes.
In selecting the comparables, the Arbitrator considered the similarity of jobs as a factor most applicable. The level of responsibility appeared to be higher among this group of school accountants/bookkeepers than other classified employes, such as building service helpers, food service, data processing employes, etc, although engineers, food service managers, and clericals have significant responsibilities as well.
However, the types of services provided and level of education and training required is more similar to the ASC (non-union) accountants and employes than to other classified employes. The Arbitrator concluded that the unit employes fall somewhere in between the groups of classified employes who contribute to health insurance and the ASC or non-union group which does not contribute.
Other classified employes settled for 3% wage increases and 5% insurance contributions, and the District
claimed that its offer of 3.5% and 4% gave an additional 1/2% and 1% as a quid pro quo for the 5%insurance cost sharing. The Association noted that the District settled with its teachers for 5% salary increases and no insurance contribution. The Arbitrator found that the extra 1 and 1/2% salary increase yields about $450 in raises, but insurance cost to employes will average $175. Thus, the quid pro quo offered was sufficient. Although another arbitrator ruled in favor of the aides on the same issue, these employes’ salaries were twice as high as the aides, averaging $30,000, and they were better able to pay for the 5% contribution.
Fond du Lac School District
Case 43 INT/ARB-6612 Dec. No. 27443-A (Vernon, 06-29-93)
Employer offer selected.
The only issue in dispute related to whether the employer should continue to pay all of the health insurance premiums, as provided in the predecessor contract, or whether the employes under the new contract should pay part of the cost. The Association proposed to maintain the status quo and the employer proposed that employes contribute 5% on the family plan and 3% on the single plan. The employer proposed a Section 125 plan covering co-pay and premium contributions. The employer in support of its position relied on dramatic increases of insurance premiums since August, 1989 (about 80%), private sector comparables, school district comparables, and other public sector comparables. The employer argued that quid pro quo for the proposed change is not necessary, but if so, it is agreed upon wage increase is higher than that of comparables which in turn serve as a quid pro quo.
The Association argued that it has had 100% payment of premiums since 1970, that in the past the Association has responsibly addressed health insurance costs, external school district comparables supports 100% payment and the trend is not towards co-pay of premiums, but rather in plan change. Further, it is argued there is no quid pro quo offered for the proposed change and that the higher wage increase was for its Association’s acceptance of changes in the health plan.
Relying on one of his previous cases, the arbitrator set forth the following analytical framework:
When an arbitrator is deciding whether a change in the status quo is justified, he/she is really weighing and balancing evidence on four considerations: They are (1) if, and the degree to which, there is a demonstrated need for the change, (2) if, and the degree to which, the proposal reasonably addresses the need, (3) if, and the degree to . . .
All four of these elements should be present to some degree and the degree to which any one of more of these considerations must be strongly evidenced depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. What is ultimately determined to be an acceptable mix of these considerations will vary from unique situation to unique situation. In bargaining, one case is rarely identical to the next. For example, if 11 out of 12 comparables have the sought-after language or benefit in similar form in their contracts, then the burden to demonstrate intrinsic need and quid pro quo are diminished. However, if the proposal goes somewhat beyond the comparables’ language or benefit, a greater degree of other factors may be required. Additionally, and of course, the particular change must be weighted with other facets of the moving party’s offer and the offers as a whole must be weighed against each other.
Applying the above, the arbitrator first concluded that the District demonstrated the existence of a practice that needed addressing. When compared to comparables, the District’s premium rate was about 17% higher. The arbitrator used comparisons not only to other school district teachers, but also to other public sector employes and private sector employes. He concluded these comparisons were appropriate because the issue involves a basic benefit as opposed to wages. He reasoned that something as common and universal as health insurance cuts across all occupational lines. The arbitrator concluded that the Association’s offer was slightly more preferable when compared to the comparable school districts, while comparables with other public employes and private sector employes clearly favored the District’s proposal. The arbitrator considered this to be a very, very close case and one that favored the District compared to other comparables, especially the private sector.
The above, plus the fact that the arbitrator felt that the issue of rising health costs, is one that must be shared by both parties led the arbitrator to select the final offer of the District.
Jefferson School District
Case 27 INT/ARB-6500 Dec. No. 27468-A (Briggs, 07-14-93)
Employer offer selected.
This dispute concerns the salary schedule, and medical and dental insurance provisions for the 1992-1994 agreement. The parties were also in dispute over the appropriate comparables.
First, the Arbitrator had to address a procedural issue. Both parties submitted certain attachments to their reply briefs. Both objected to the other’s submission. The Arbitrator did not consider either one because neither was accompanied by sworn testimony.
Comparables: Appropriate comparables were established in a prior arbitration. The employer seeks to add to those comparables. The Union argues against same and the Arbitrator agreed. The Arbitrator held that a demonstration of compelling need must be made to change established comparables and since no such need was shown, the established comparables was accepted by the Arbitrator.
Health Insurance: The employer wanted to continue its self-funded plan with deductible and co-pay. Contract language is general, but according to the employer, has served the parties well. The Union proposed a WEA Insurance plan claiming that the self-funded plan is a fiasco.
Both parties agree that the employer’s health care costs have escalated. A comparison of the plans shows that both contain equal deductibles but that there is a big difference in co-pay. Both plans reduce premiums significantly.
The Arbitrator found the employer’s offer more preferable because internal comparables clearly favored the District, the Union’s proposal placed very strict limitations on the District’s ability to change carriers, self-funding allows the District the opportunity for potential cost savings that it would otherwise forego, that the premium escalation over the past year was not the fault of self-funding, and that the flexibility of self-funding would allow District to better meet future needs.
Dental Insurance: The Union proposes a specific carrier and plan.
In comparing the two proposals the Arbitrator found that the District’s proposal was supported by both external and internal comparables. Thus, he found the District’s offer preferable.
Salary: The dollar difference between the parties was not especially vast. The Arbitrator found that the Jefferson teachers have historically been paid at the low level in relation to teachers in comparable Districts, and that neither offer would advance the teacher significantly in terms of ranking with the comparables group. The Arbitrator noted that the parties have settled the salary issue voluntarily for the majority of the agreements over the last decade and therefore the ratio they adopted between their own salaries and those of teachers in comparable Districts should not be disturbed by these proceedings.
The Arbitrator found that cost of living favored the District’s offer, and that the District’s offer is comparable to other settlements in the comparable pool.
Also noted was that there was no evidence of a high turnover rate of teachers. Further, the Arbitrator concluded that the Jefferson taxpayers had a higher school tax burden than comparable Districts.
Based on all of the above, the District’s final offer was deemed more reasonable.
Auburndale School District
Case 23 INT/ARB-6453 Dec. No. 27533-A (Oestreicher, 07-20-93)
Union offer selected.
The District proposed to distribute $3,734 in additional wages (12.02%) across the board over the 1991-1993 contract term. The Union proposed to distribute $3,742 in additional wages (12.2%) with a higher proportion going to more experienced/educated employes. The Union also proposed including an increase in health insurance benefits at the employe’s expense, upgrading the Junior High Volleyball position, implementing a notification procedure for teacher evaluations, and both sides proposed additional compensation for overload pay.
The Association also contended the reliance should be on the comparables determined in a 1990 award, the Cloverbelt Conference plus a secondary group of Districts in a 20 mile radius and state averages. The District argued for the Cloverbelt Conference comparable and against the 20 mile radius and state averages. As the parties were in agreement on the primary comparables, the Cloverbelt Conference the Arbitrator adopted that comparable.
Salary Issue: The Arbitrator noted the proposals were relatively identical in cost with the disagreement centering on which members of the bargaining unit should receive the greatest amount. The Arbitrator also noted that neither offer followed the pattern established in the comparables. The Arbitrator found that the District arguments that it had to pay for graduate credits even if the course did not relate to a teacher’s field had no merit because the District had not introduced any evidence of abuse or that it had paid for credits it would of refused to do so. The Arbitrator also found that the Union’s offer would come much closer to maintaining 1990-1991 rankings than the District’s would.
On the overload issue the Arbitrator found neither party presented evidence on how many teachers are teaching an overload nor any evidence on what comparable Districts are doing. The Arbitrator concluded neither offer was preferable. The Arbitrator found on the evaluation issue that the Union failed to demonstrate a need for its position. Turning to the Junior High Volleyball coach issue the Arbitrator found that there was no merit in the Union’s position that a volunteer who was providing a service not designated or approved by the Board of Education should be paid the same amount as a position which was designated and approved. The Arbitrator found the waiver of premium and annual physical examination benefits sought by the Union and to be paid for by employes could produce long term savings to the District.
The Arbitrator concluded that the Union’s offer on wages was the most comparable and most reasonable.
Buffalo County (Human Services Department)
Case 46 INT/ARB-6315 Dec. No. 27521-A (Slavney, 07-23-93)
Employer offer selected.
The Arbitrator was satisfied that the County’s offer was closer to the increases granted to the County’s unrepresented employes and to the accord reached with its only settled bargaining unit than was the offer of the Union. He also found that the County’s offer was consistent with its offers in two on-going interest arbitration cases with its other two units and, more importantly, that the employe organizations in those proceedings were proposing increases of 4.0% for each year, which was closer to the County’s offering this matter than the Union’s. Based on this, the Arbitrator concluded that the “internal comparison” criterion supported the offer of the County.
In terms of external comparables, the Arbitrator concluded that they supported the Union’s offer more so than they supported the County’s offer, although such support was tempered somewhat by the fact that the wage settlements prior to 1992 were mutually agreed upon by the parties and, thus, the Union and the County must share the low standing of the wage rates agreed upon. The Arbitrator found that the County’s offer generated wage increases closer to the cost-of-living. The Arbitrator also determined that, even though the Union argues that the County was deficient in fringe benefits when compared to the external comparables, such benefits not directly related to wages, such as health and dental insurance and payout of unused sick leave, were non-issues since neither offer proposed changes in such benefits.
The Arbitrator concluded that the County’s offer was favored by a majority of the statutory criteria pertinent to the issues involved and, therefore, choice the County’s final offer to be incorporated into the parties’ collective bargaining agreement.
City of Hudson (Police Department)
Case 26 MIA-1667 Dec. No. 27329-A (Reynolds, 07-24-93)
Union offer selected.
The Arbitrator determined that the Union’s comparables – which were used in prior arbitrations between the parties – should be the “primary set”, while the City’s comparables should be considered “secondary”, with the exception of out-of-town units which were not relevant. He also ruled that wages were secondary to the City’s proposed language changes involving insurance contributions and reporting to work requirements and that the latter “will determine the outcome of this matter.” He further stated that a party seeking changes under a contract bears the burden of establishing the need for new language.
The Arbitrator ruled that the City had not satisfied its burden of proving that employes should start paying 5% of the health premiums, as opposed to the current contract language which did not require any employe contributions. He also found, “No argument was presented as to why the internal comparables [which favored the City] should be preferred to the external comparables with other police officers” which favored the Union.
Under the then-current contract, officers going off-duty picked up relief officers at home who were reporting for work and then took them to the station, after which officers who were going off duty were driven home by officers who just reported for work. The City wanted to discontinue this practice because not all officers were present at the same time to require daily information because it “caused shift changes to drag on for a long time”; and because a change would promote uniformity, increase department efficiency, and benefit the public at large. The Union asserted that no change was necessary on the ground that new requirements would cause problems which the City did not address.
The Arbitrator agreed that the City had not established the need for change and he therefore ruled in favor of the Union on this issue.
The City offered raises of 3.5 in each year of the two-year contract which were higher than those sought by the Union.
The Arbitrator ruled that the City’s wage offer was actually higher than the Union’s wage offer, but that the Union was not being “obdurate” in refusing to accept it in exchange for the City’s proposed language changes relating to insurance contributions and reporting to work.
The Arbitrator selected the Union’s final offer because the City had not met its “heavy burden” of establishing the need for change for its language items.
Waukesha Water Utility
Case 2 INT/ARB-6188 Dec. No. 27579-A (McAlpin, 07-25-93)
In addition to wages, numerous other issues were agreed to including management rights, seniority, dues deductions and fair share, grievance procedure, health insurance and pay progression schedule.
Niagara School District
Case 5 INT/ARB-6471 Dec. No. 27570-A (Gundermann, 07-29-93)
Employer offer selected.
The following issues were in dispute: Wages, health insurance, credit reimbursement, recall language, calendar and pay for miscellaneous duties.
The Union urged the Arbitrator to consider both State-wide comparables and CESA 8 schools as comparable. The Union noted that only three of the eight athletic conference schools were settled for the school year 1992-93. In contrast, the District argued that the athletic conference schools should form the primary comparable group. The Employer argued that both CESA 8 schools and state-wide schools were inappropriate for comparison to the District regarding geographic area, pupil attendance and the number of teachers employed at each school. The Arbitrator held that the primary comparables should be the athletic conference schools despite the fact that a limited number of settlements existed. The Arbitrator also held that the CESA 8 schools should form the basis for the secondary comparable group.
The Arbitrator held that the salary issue in this case was the most important of all the issues before him. The Arbitrator found that the salary only and total package calculations performed by the District were not only generally accepted methods of costing but had also been specifically accepted by the parties in the past. The Arbitrator rejected the schedule-to-schedule money comparisons urged by the Association because they ignored the cost of increments. The Arbitrator also rejected the Union’s urgings against the District’s cast-forward method of costing and found the cast-forward method to be generally acceptable and applicable to the instant case.
The Union argued that on certain selected benchmarks, the CESA 8 and State-wide comparables it had selected showed that the District had been falling behind in the period since the mid-1980’s until the end of the school year 1990-1991. On this basis, the Union had argued that it was necessary to grant Niagara teachers catch-up. The Union also argued that there was a total monetary difference of only $36,327.00 over the two year contract between the Association’s and the District’s final offers.
The District, on the other hand, argued that the Union’s offer for 1992-93 was $2,154.00 per returning teacher for a salary only cost of 6% and a total package cost of 6.3% and that for the 1993-94 school year the Union’s final offer represented a $2,257.00 cost per returning teacher for a 5.9% salary only increase or a 6.1% total package increase. In contrast, the District pointed out that its 1992-93 final offer represented an $1,850.00 per returning teacher cost or a salary only cost of 5.2%, a total package cost of 5.5% and its 1993-94 offer represented a $2,001.00 per returning teacher increase for a salary only increase of 5.3% or a total package increase of 5.1%. The District observed that its final offer was only $44.00 below the average salary settlement and $140.00 above the total package average increase for the 1992-93 year. The District also noted that the settlement average for 1992-93 among the comparables was 5.6% salary only or a total package average of 5.7%.
Thus, the District urged, its final offer was the more reasonable of the two and that the Union had proved no basis for its request for catch-up. The District observed that District teachers had received between $2,097.00 and $2,751.00 more than the conference average in each contract year from 1988 through 1991. The District calculated that from 1988 through 1992 the District exceeded CESA 8 average salary only compensation granted to teachers during that period by $11,056.00 and exceeded the total package compensation for those years by $21,897.00. The District noted that only 14 of the 39.5 teachers employed by the District were actually at the salary benchmarks which the Union claimed were slipping behind the comparable benchmarks in other Districts. Thus, the District urged, the Association’s use of the benchmarks in portraying its final offer and that of the District was inappropriate.
The Arbitrator observed that the Association’s and the District’s arguments regarding the benchmarks and the average salaries in comparable Districts were not necessarily contradictory. Even assuming that the salary benchmarks in the District have slipped vis-a-vis the comparables and that the average salaries paid to District teachers have exceeded the average salaries paid to the teachers of primary and secondary comparable Districts, the Arbitrator found that the Board’s offer was to be preferred over the Association because the Board’s offer was closer to the comparables in terms of compensation and closer to the cost-of-living.
Regarding the issue of health insurance, the Arbitrator found that the parties should have bargained a change regarding health insurance in this matter and noted that apparently the District was offering no quid pro quo for its proposal that teachers begin paying 5% of both the family and single premiums effective July 1, 1992. The contract status quo, which the Union had proposed, was that 100% of all health insurance premiums was paid by the Board. Thus, the Arbitrator preferred the Union’s offer on the health insurance issue over the District’s offer.
Regarding the credit reimbursement issue, the Arbitrator found that the District’s offer which required that three of six credits be obtained in the teacher’s current assignment in order to be eligible for reimbursement was “totally reasonable.” Also, the Arbitrator noted that the Board’s offer included an increase of five dollars per approved credit beginning on July 1, 1993. (A 2.9% increase). In the circumstances, the Arbitrator found that no quid pro quo was necessary for the change that the District sought to make in credit reimbursement and the Arbitrator preferred the District’s offer on this point to the Union’s maintenance of the status quo language with 5% per year increases in reimbursement rates.
Regarding the probationary period, the Arbitrator preferred the Association’s offer on this point, a continuation of the status quo two year probationary period. The Arbitrator noted that a two year probationary period should be generally sufficient and if it is not sufficient in a particular case, the parties should bargain regarding an extension of the probationary period or some other alternative. Thus, the Arbitrator found, a three year probationary period was not necessary in all instances, noting that only three athletic conference schools had a three year probationary period.
Regarding the recall from layoff issue, the Arbitrator preferred the District’s offer to limit the teachers’ rights to be recalled from layoff to a two year period, where the status quo contractual language contained no limitation on a teacher’s right to recall. The Arbitrator noted, however, that the majority of comparable Districts provide for a time period greater than two years. He found that a more restrictive two-year time limit on recall rights was more reasonable than the status quo unlimited recall rights contained in the expired agreement.
The Association proposed to change the status quo language regarding term of agreement to provide that all provisions of the contract would be retroactive and that backpay should be due within 30 days of the date of an arbitrator’s award. The District proposed merely to change the effective dates of the agreement in the term of agreement area of the contract. The Arbitrator found that the evidence showed there was no reason for the Association to insist upon making all provisions retroactive, as both parties agreed that they should be. Nor was there any reason for the contract to provide that backpay should be paid within 30 days because this was otherwise required either by state law or administrative rules or by the parties’ past practices. Therefore, the Arbitrator preferred the Employer’s offer in this area.
Regarding the school calendar issue, the Union urged that the calendar should be negotiated at the same time as the remaining provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The District argued that the status quo should be maintained so that the parties would be required to meet and negotiate regarding the calendar for the succeeding school years beginning in the February before the school year for which the calendar would be made. The Arbitrator favored the Union’s final offer on this point, noting that he saw no reason why the parties could not negotiate all terms of the contract at the same time.
There were several miscellaneous pay disputes which separated the parties and were reflected by their final offers in this case. The Union had sought 5% increases in each year of the contract for chaperon duties, supervising duties track meet duties, supervising bus trips, special tutoring duties and curriculum revision work as well as pay during a lunch period that has been waived by a teacher because of the needs of the District. Also the Union sought an increase in the mileage rate to be paid to teachers while driving for District business. The Employer did not offer any increases in these various pay areas and stood on the status quo. The Arbitrator observed that there was insufficient evidence in the record to support 10% increases in these miscellaneous amounts over the period of the contract, as the Union had urged. The Arbitrator also noted that the District had offered no increase in these pay rates for the period of the contract. The Arbitrator found that neither parties’ final offer was defensible in this area but he reluctantly preferred the District’s final offer, believing that if the pay rates for these activities were insufficient in future, the parties would correct them through their next negotiations.
The Arbitrator selected the Employer’s offer for a two year period for July 1, 1992 through June 30, 1994 which represented an $1,850.00 increase per returning teacher, a salary only increase of 5.2% for 1992-93 with a total package cost was 5.5% and in 1993-94, a $2,001.00 per returning teacher increase for a 5.3% increase on salary only for a total package increase of 5.1%.
Johnson Creek School District
Case 18 INT/ARB-6623 Dec. No. 27574-A (Kessler, 08-05-93)
Union offer selected.
This case involved a reopener of the second year of a two-year contract, the first year of which involved an agreement to provide some significant catch-up for this bargaining unit.
The Arbitrator found that both offers provided identical ranking for all the benchmarks among the comparable school districts; that the District continued to be below the average after the first year in all benchmarks, even with the substantial increase in teacher salaries in the first year of the contract; that the 1991-92 salary schedule and both of the final offers appear to keep the District near the middle of the conference; and that prior to the 1991-92 schedule, the District was at the bottom of the group of comparables.
But the Arbitrator also determined that the District had much farther to go to get to a middle ranking in the athletic conference. Therefore, when salaries alone are evaluated, the Arbitrator determined that the final offer of the Association came closer to meeting the statutory criteria.
In regard to health insurance, the Arbitrator found that six of the seven comparable Districts pay $100% of the single health insurance plan and five of seven pay $100% of the family plan, which favored the Association proposal; yet, when the dollar amount of contribution was considered, the District offer was closer to the average of comparable Districts. Taking into consideration that full payment of health insurance is a non-taxable benefit to the employes who have to earn an amount significantly larger than what they are expected to pay for their portion of the insurance costs in order to remain where they were financially before the payment, the Arbitrator found the final offer of the Association preferable.
The Arbitrator also rejected a salary-only view of a settlement since there are differences in fringe benefits among Districts, preferring a “total package” approach which is based on the total compensation that the employes will receive when the offer is adopted, not merely the increase in total compensation that is proposed. The Arbitrator found that the final offer of the District was closer to the average and, therefore, under the total compensation criteria, the District offer was preferable.
The Arbitrator also found the District’s offer preferable in terms of the cost of living, the per pupil valuation of the community and the levy rate.
When all the factors were considered, the Arbitrator determined that the final offer of the Association narrowly becomes the preferred choice. The Arbitrator concluded that this was a District in which a “catch-up” salary schedule was necessary in order to be comparable with other Districts which resulted in both offers far above the consumer price index. The Arbitrator reasoned that since the District was at the bottom of most categories in the salary schedule, that since this was reflected in the total compensation figures, and that since the health insurance costs paid by the District were not as high as other District’s, a lower salary was not justified as an offset. And even though the District is a poorer District based on its property value per student, the Arbitrator concluded that fact, standing alone, did not justify omitting the final steps in the “catch-up” pay increase. The Arbitrator ruled for the Association.
City of Oshkosh (Police Department)
Case 195 MIA-1764 Dec. No. 27569-A (Oestreicher, 08-20-93)
Employer offer selected.
Besides wages, the City proposed changes in health deductibles and employe premium contributions; and the Association proposed improvements in vacation, holiday pay and pay for work on a holiday.
The parties agreed that Appleton, Fond du Lac, Green Bay and Sheboygan were appropriate external comparables. The Arbitrator added Neenah and Menasha over Association objections.
Association’s wage offer matches internal fire settlement. Police are paid more than fire in the comparables. City’s offer would change a long standing relationship between the City’s police and fire contracts. However, the City’s wage offer compares most favorably to most of the wage settlements in the comparable communities, and police Association turned down a City offer in bargaining that would have given them the fire wages in return for the City’s health insurance changes which the fire unit accepted.
City’s health insurance proposal is more reasonable than Association’s. Employe family plan contributions were capped at $0 for ’91, $30 for ’92, and $50 for ’93, for no-deductible HMP insurance. The City’s proposal would add another health insurance option with $250/500 deductibles and no premium contribution, and it would increase employe contributions for the HMP plan by an uncapped 25% of any premium increase, resulting in $68.75 monthly family premium in 1994 and an unknown contribution in 1995. Arbitrator finds Association’s proposal to retain status quo health insurance unrealistic because City’s ’93 family premium is $640 compared to the comparables average of $466.69. City has proposed reasonable approach to remedy this problem. External comparables do not support Association’s position.
The limited amount of evidence presented on the vacation issue does not persuade that Association’s position (20 days after 12 rather than 15 years) should be imposed through arbitration.
While some aspects of Association’s holiday-related proposals enjoy support among the external comparables, other aspects do not. While CPI favors City offer, internal and external comparables are given greater weight. On balance, City’s offer was selected.
Columbia County (Highway Department)
Case 116 INT/ARB-6284 Dec. No. 27453-C (Christenson, 08-20-93)
Union offer selected.
Issues in dispute: Wages and sick leave payment. There was also a dispute over appropriate comparables.
The Arbitrator stated that Dane County is not too large to be considered as a comparable, due to the fact that the Dane and Columbia share a border and the same labor market for blue and white collar employes. Dane County’s size and resources are taken into account in weighing its comparability but those factors do not exclude it. Similarly, Juneau and Adams counties are less like Columbia than others on the list of comparables, but are comparable enough to be relevant.
The Arbitrator accepted the Union’s argument that some catch up in wages was appropriate, as overall wages were well below average. Although the County’s offer provided catch up in some categories, the majority of the bargaining unit would continue to receive wages near the bottom of the list of comparables under that offer. Both parties’ offers would leave the employes in the same relative position among the comparables, but the Union’s offer would move the unit average closer to the next higher comparable. Moreover, the internal comparables supported the Union’s wage offer, even though one of the internal comparables was the result of an arbitration award rather than a voluntary settlement.
The Union’s offer also included a proposal to pay out 50% of accumulated sick leave at the daily hourly rate upon death or retirement, a change from the 40% in the contract. While the County devoted the major portion of its argument to attacking this part of the offer, the Arbitrator found that the Union’s characterization of the sick leave issue as a minor issue was appropriate given the relatively small amount of money at stake. While it makes an already haphazard pattern of provisions in various bargaining units a little worse, the County’s argument that its offer should be chosen on the basis of this issue alone was unpersuasive.
Douglas County (Sheriff’s Department)
Case 190 MIA-1772 Dec. No. 27594-A (Flaten, 08-22-93)
Employer offer selected.
Besides wages, the issues were the Association’s 2 year vs. the County’s 1 year duration, and the Association’s proposal that make all hours worked on Sundays, holidays and the employe’s off days payable at the 1.5x rate otherwise applicable only to hours worked in excess of 8 on such days.
Wages are the major issue in dispute. The County relies on a pattern of settlement among its eight internal comparable units. The Union relies on settlements reached among external law enforcement unit comparables in the City of Superior and surrounding counties. The Arbitrator notes that the City unit includes no jailers but that jailers comprise over one-third of the instant unit, rendering the City a secondary comparable. While the County offers a lesser percentage increase than the surrounding counties, its existing rates are considerably above the average, especially among jailers. The internal pattern is clear (all eight of the other units) and therefore worthy of great weight. The County’s position maintains rates that are competitive with the external comparables and it is more reasonable when factors of the interests and welfare of the public and cost of living are considered.
The internal comparables all have reached one year contracts. While multi-year contracts provide stability, shorter durations do allow greater flexibility in responding to changes in the cost of living.
The Union’s position on call-out premium is more reasonable and fully supported by external comparables, but it pales in the face of the other issues.
Overall the County’s offer is selected.
City of Milwaukee (Police Department)
Case 381 MIA-1669 Dec. No. 27151-C (Malamud, 08-23-93)
Issue by issue arbitration
Neither party’s position was adopted in its entirety. This was a Sec. 111.70(4)(jm) arbitration, i.e., not final offer package. It arose under a formal reopener in 1991-92 agreement which provided, “If the City chooses to modify its current drug testing practices, beyond that which is currently in effect, the parties will engage in collective bargaining as to those aspects of the modification which are primarily related to wages, hours and conditions of employment.”
At issue was the City’s initiative to expand the Department’s existing “reasonable suspicion” drug testing program to include random testing, with a variety of related issues. The Arbitrator decided that he did not have jurisdiction to rule on the merits of the existing drug testing program, but only to rule on the City’s proposed modifications and the Association’s responses to those City proposals.
The Arbitrator found that the City’s proposal was not unlawful because “as of this writing … random drug testing of non-probationary ‘tenured’ sworn law enforcement officers who carry a weapon and who are vested with the power of arrest, without individualized suspicion, would be found by the Courts to represent a reasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment [to the U.S. Constitution].” The Arbitrator considered a wide variety of factors including practices among internal/external comparables, the nature of urban law enforcement work, and the interests and welfare of the public, evidence concerning the extent of drug use among MPA bargaining unit members, and expert opinions on scientific and other issues.
The Arbitrator decided not to include the City’s proposal for random testing of all its officers. The association’s proposal to expand the existing reasonable suspicion testing program was also rejected.
The parties agreed that officers being promoted or returning from an extended leave of absence should be drug tested. The Arbitrator defined “extended leaves” as those in excess of 120 days and concluded that officers who test positive upon returning from such a leave are to be placed on paid status pending appeal of any discipline which may be imposed by the Chief, consistent with the purposes of Sec. 62.50(18), Wis. Stats.
The Arbitrator decided not to include testing for incidents which result in death or great bodily harm. While concluding that testing of blood (rather than urinalysis) would be appropriate as soon after such incidents as possible, he does not authorize such testing in those circumstances because neither party proposed a blood test and too many questions remain concerning the implementation of a blood test in such circumstances.
The Arbitrator approved multiple testing of probationary officers and of officers in sensitive assignments, with test timing at the Chief’s discretion, a “range of testing” method for selecting the officers to be tested, and a unit-by-unit sampling pool for selecting among officers working sensitive assignments.
Opportunities for rehabilitation were added only for officers in sensitive assignments because both probationary employes and employes returning from extended leave would have known in advance approximately when they would be tested, making a positive result in their cases indicative of a serious drug problem.
The Arbitrator adopted a list of drugs and test protocols proposed by the City but with a split sample procedure proposed by the Association.
Finally, the Arbitrator provided the City and MPA with an opportunity to conduct an anonymous study of officers who are not subject to the expanded drug testing program to determine if there is a need for any additional testing in the Department.
Case 268 INT/ARB-6684 Dec. No. 27630-A (Kessler, 08-24-93)
Employer offer selected.
Basic wages and health insurance costs were not items in dispute — the issue was the reclassification of some positions and the conditions for the start up of the County’s new 911 emergency system. The parties also agreed that the appropriate comparables were the counties of Brown, Kenosha, Marathon, Outagamie, Racine, Sheboygan, and Winnebago as well as the two main cities in the County, Beloit and Janesville.
The most significant difference between the two final offers was the treatment of the new 911 emergency system, which would replace existing dispatchers in the Sheriff’s Department and dispatchers currently employed by Beloit and Janesville. The County proposed to hire a new staff of operators classified as Telecommunicators. The Union proposed that existing Sheriff’s dispatchers automatically move into the new positions, and it proposed to classify the Telecommunicators at a higher rate than existing dispatchers. The County wanted an initial rate without reclassification. In analyzing the wages of comparable units for dispatchers, the Union’s offer was preferable for the position of Telecommunicator. When the position of Lead Telecommunicator was added, the preference shifted to the County’s offer.
The two offers contained nearly identical shift differentials, but the County’s proposal allowed the 911 management to allocate employes to different times to cover the busiest periods. Management should have the right to assign workers in the most efficient fashion, and the County’s offer to split shifts to give it flexibility was preferred. The Arbitrator also preferred the County’s offer on lunch and break periods, which was more generous than the Union’s offer to continue the existing practice.
The County asked for a 60 day training period followed by a 60 day probationary period for Telecommunicators. The Union wanted to continue the current 60 day probationary period and include training in that time. The Arbitrator noted that there will be new equipment requiring new knowledge and greater skills than required of current dispatchers. The number of agencies, population and area being served will increase. Furthermore, the Arbitrator thought it would be unfair to guarantee jobs for Sheriff’s Department dispatchers while not protecting the jobs of dispatchers working for Beloit and Janesville at the same time. The Arbitrator preferred the County’s offer in this area.
The Arbitrator preferred the Union’s offer on Account Clerk II’s in the Clerk of Courts office, as evidence showed they performed more demanding work than other Account Clerk II’s. However, he preferred the offer of the County regarding the pay rate for the Deputy County Clerk, as it more nearly matched the position of comparable counties.
The County’s offer on Economic Support Specialists was preferred. The Arbitrator did not accept the Union’s argument that the proximity of the County to Illinois required more knowledge in that position. But the Arbitrator preferred the Union’s offer on reclassification of Social Service Aides, which was supported by the comparables. The Union’s offer on uniform allowance for Sheriff’s Department employes was also preferred.
Cameron School District
Case 27 INT/ARB-6528 Dec. No. 27562-A (Gundermann, 08-25-93)
Employer offer selected.
The parties agreed that the athletic conference is the comparable employer group, but the Union asserted that only those school districts whose employers are represented by a labor organization should be considered. The Arbitrator concluded from arbitral authority that the statute does not contemplate that only represented school districts should be considered comparable. Consequently, the Arbitrator found all Districts of the athletic conference to be the basis for the comparables.
The current contract provided eight holidays for calendar-year employes, two holidays for school year, full-time employes, and one holiday for school-year, part-time employes.
The District proposed to add an additional holiday for school-year part-time employes.
The Union proposed to add an additional half-holiday for calendar year and school-year, full-time employes and an additional holiday and a half-holiday for school-year, part-time employes.
After analyzing the holiday benefits received by the other comparable employes of the conference schools, the Arbitrator found the District’s proposal more reasonable.
The Arbitrator also addressed the question of what constituted the status quo: the past practice of paying certain employes who did not work on certain convention or conference days, or the contract itself which did not provide the additional holidays. The Arbitrator found that the District had successfully repudiated the past practice during the bargaining and the past practice was no longer the status quo.
Both comparability and consideration of the status quo, then, favored the District’s position on holidays.
III. ELEMENTARY SECRETARY WAGE RATE
In the predecessor contract, the Elementary School Secretary was paid $.99 per hour less than the High School Secretary. The District’s offer would maintain that disparity. (In fact, the apparent application of a percentage wage increase would slightly increase the disparity.) The Union’s offer would minimize the disparity in the first year of the contract and eliminate it in the second year of the contract.
The disparity has an historical basis. Prior to the building of the present high school, the Elementary School Secretary was essentially an assistant to the High School Secretary. The Union argued that since the building of the separate high school, both secretaries are essentially head secretaries, performing clerical tasks at the direction of their respective principals. Additionally, the Union pointed to the alleged majority of the Districts in the conference that pay both elementary and high school secretaries at the same rate.
The District insisted that the High School Secretary’s duties are more complex than those of the Elementary School Secretary and that she is so busy that she does not have time to take breaks.
The Arbitrator found most persuasive the fact that the differential in pay was in existence at the time the parties negotiated their first collective bargaining agreement, and that the parties’ first agreement perpetuated that differential, thus, according to the Arbitrator, recognizing the difference in the duties and responsibilities of the two positions. There was no evidence that the duties had significantly changed since that time or that the difference had been eliminated. The Arbitrator decided in favor of the District.
IV. % VALUE OF WAGE AND PACKAGE OFFERS
The parties litigated only additional holidays and the school secretary wage rate. No package value was calculated. The Employer prevailed.
Denmark School District
Case 4 INT/ARB-6232 Dec. No. 27181-A (Vernon, 11-27-92 & 08-30-93)
Employer offer selected.
There were two issues in dispute. The first issue was the appropriate set of comparables for this school district, and the second was the issue of wages.
The Association proposed to compare to three sets of comparables. The first was a group of school districts participating in the Door-Kewaunee Insurance Consortium (Algoma, Kewaunee, Southern Door, Denmark, Luxemburg-Casco, Sturgeon Bay, Gibraltar and Sevatopol). The second was the grouping of all schools in Brown County. The final grouping was the Olympia Athletic Conference, which the Association argued was not entitled to great weight because the District was an “edge” district, falling at the geographical edge of the conference. The District argued that the Olympia Conference should be the primary comparable grouping. If additional comparisons were needed, the District argued, the smaller schools of the Packerland conference should be used.
The arbitrator rejected the comparisons drawn by both parties, reasoning that the Olympian Athletic Conference should be the core of the comparability group, but that similarity in size and geographical proximity dictated the addition of Algoma, Kewaunee, Southern Door, Kiel, Chilton and Luxemburg-Casco. DePere, Sturgeon Bay and West DePere were specifically excluded as too dissimilar to the District to serve as comparables.
Having determined the comparable grouping, the Arbitrator determined that the average increase per teacher proposed by the Board ($130 under the average of the comparables over two years) more nearly reflected the settlement pattern than did the position of the Association ($259 over the average of the comparables over two years). The Arbitrator found no reason to deviate from the dollars per teacher average, since only slight benchmark erosion occurred under the Board’s offer, and only at benchmarks where the District was historically a leader. Accordingly, he selected the offer of the Board.
Merton Joint School District #9
Case 23 INT/ARB-6392 Dec. No. 27568-A (Baron, 08-30-93)
Union offer selected.
The parties chose to arbitrate the initial collective bargaining agreement between them. The issues in dispute before the Arbitrator included job postings, layoff and recall, hours of work, overtime, dental insurance, retirement, holidays, emergency school closings, employe evaluations, classification appendix and wages for each year. Initially, the Arbitrator addressed the issue of which communities could be said to be comparable for purposes of comparison of Merton support staff employes’ wages, hours and working conditions under Section 111.70(4)(cm)(7) sub (e). Regarding comparability, the Union had argued that only school districts whose employes in similar positions had been organized by labor organizations should be found to be external comparables. The Union’s list of comparables was therefore as follows: Elmbrook, Germantown, Hartford Union, Kettle Moraine, Menomonie Falls, Mukwonago, Muskego-Norway, New Berlin, Oconomowoc, Pewaukee, Slinger, Sussex (Hamilton), Waukesha and Hartland-Lakeside. In contrast, the District selected only unorganized K-8 school districts for its external comparables, as follows: Erin #2, Hartford Jt. 1, Hartland-Lakeside, Lake Country, Lisbon Joint 2, North Lake, Richfield Jt. 11, Stonebank, and Swallow. These school districts operate only elementary schools in the Hartland-Arrowhead Union School Districts.
The Arbitrator found that the use of only elementary school districts for external comparison was not appropriate. She observed that the work in elementary schools as well as other school districts of larger size was essentially the same. The Arbitrator also found persuasive the Union’s arguments that only organized units should be used, especially where a first contract is being arbitrated and significant language issues are in dispute. In addition, the Arbitrator found that the Union’s more extensive list of comparables contained school districts that were in geographic proximity to the Merton School District and that as such, they all shared a common labor market. The Arbitrator also gave weight to the Union’s use of the equalized value per pupil in the 14 school districts which it proposed to be comparable. Thus, the Arbitrator concluded that the Union’s proposed list of comparables was a more reasonable list and that these comparables should be used in examining each impasse issue.
Among the many issues in dispute between the parties, the Arbitrator found that three issues were of paramount importance to the parties and should be weighed most heavily in determining which offer should be selected as the most reasonable. These three issues were wages, retirement, and overtime. Initially, the Arbitrator rejected the District’s assertion that the Union had the burden of providing a quid pro quo for each additional benefit over and above that which had been in existence before the Union organized, which the Union placed in its final offer. The Arbitrator noted that absent a prior collective bargaining relationship and a prior collective bargaining agreement, no quid pro quo was necessary and status quo standard should not be applied.
The Arbitrator found that the Union’s wage proposal was the more reasonable of the two and preferred it. In this regard the Arbitrator noted that the record showed that regarding wages only the Union’s offer for 1991-92 was a 9.96% increase, for 1992-93 the Union proposed a 13.69% increase in wages and for 1993-94 the Union’s offer contained a 7.45% wage increase for a total wage increase over three years of 31.1%. In contrast the Board’s offer contained a 5.54% wage increase in 1991-92, a 5.01% wage increase for the year 1992-93 and a 4.99% increase in wages for the school year 1993-94 for a total wage increase over three years of 15.54%. In terms of total compensation, including health, dental, life insurance, and LTD along with wages, the Arbitrator noted that the Union’s three year final offer would bring a 38.41% increase to employes while the Board’s three year final offer would bring a 22.74% increase in total compensation to employes.
The Arbitrator analyzed the wage proposals of the parties by looking at the external comparables and comparing wage rates in the first year of the agreement with comparable wage rates. In this regard, the Arbitrator noted specifically that the Union’s final offer for custodial employes lagged behind the median of comparable rates for custodial workers for 1991 by more than $2.00 per hour while the District’s wage offer for custodial employes in 1991 was more than $4.00 per hour less than the median wage rate for such employes. The Arbitrator also noted that the Union and District wage rate offers in the first year of the proposed contract for instructional assistants was essentially the same. The Arbitrator observed that the District had failed to prove why it had a need to create a two tiered pay scheme for instructional assistants who are certified and instructional assistants who are not certified. (The wage rate the District had proposed for instructional assistants who are non-certified was $1.77 less than the rate it proposed for certified instructional assistants, $8.91). Although the Union’s proposal of a $2.04 increase to custodial employes over the life of the three year contract caused the Arbitrator concern, the Arbitrator noted that the Union had made its case regarding comparable wage rates for these employes and the Arbitrator therefore found the Union’s wage offer to be on the whole more reasonable than the District’s.
Regarding the retirement benefit, the District proposed that all employes should receive a retirement benefit through the Principal Mutual Life Insurance Company (PMLIC), effective July 1, 1991. This plan would provide a benefit of 1.6% of the employe’s monthly salary multiplied by their length of service. The Union proposed that the employes should be covered by the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) and that the District should pay the employe’s share of the required contribution. The Arbitrator noted that all of the Union’s comparables except for Oconomowoc provide retirement benefits to their custodial staff through WRS and that four of the school districts on the District’s list of proposed unorganized comparables had voluntarily enrolled their employes in WRS. The Arbitrator also noted that the District covers its teachers under WRS and that only one of PMLIC’s retirement plan customers is a municipal employer. The possibility of employes transferring retirement credits among public employers enrolled in WRS as well as the greater security and track record of the WRS as opposed to an untested private insurer was of weight to the Arbitrator and she therefore preferred the Union’s offer regarding the retirement issue.
There were several aspects of the issue of overtime which remained unresolved between the parties: time and one-half (per day or per week), Saturday work, Sunday work and holiday pay. The Arbitrator found that the great weight of the evidence supported favoring the Union’s position in these areas of overtime payment. In regard to the issue whether employes should be paid time and one-half over eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week (Union proposal) or whether employes should be paid time and one-half only after 40 hours are worked in a week (Board proposal), the Arbitrator found that the Union’s proposal was the more reasonable based upon the fact that 12 of the Union’s comparables provided for time and one-half for work over 8 hours in a day and 3 of the Board’s comparables provided for this same benefit. In regard to overtime for Saturday work, the Union sought pay at the time and one-half rate to any employe who works on a Saturday while the Board’s offer provided this benefit only to employes who are not normally scheduled to work. On this point, it appeared that the District wished to assign custodial employes to work regularly on Saturday yet not pay time and one-half rate for that work. The Arbitrator noted that it was within the District’s management prerogative to assign work to be done on Saturdays and that the Union’s offer would have made a Tuesday through Saturday schedule or Saturday work without overtime payment impossible. For those reasons, the Arbitrator preferred the Employer’s offer on this particular issue over the Union’s. Regarding overtime for Sunday work, the Union sought double time for employes working on Sundays while the Board offered time and one-half for Sunday work. The Arbitrator noted that of 13 comparables eight paid double time for work done on Sunday for custodial employes and based upon this data the Arbitrator preferred the Union’s offer on this point as it more closely matched the practice of the comparables. In regard to overtime worked on holidays, the Union sought double time (plus holiday pay) for holiday work while the Board offered time and one-half (plus holiday pay) for such work. The Arbitrator noted that nine of the comparable school districts provide double pay for maintenance and custodial workers on holidays and she found therefore that the Union’s offer on this point more closely approximated the comparables than did the District’s offer.
The District made extensive arguments regarding interest and welfare of the public as well as cost of living. The Arbitrator rejected the District’s argument that the national cost of living standard should be applied here and held instead that the large number of comparable communities which have reached settlement with their comparably employed employes is a more compelling standard than the national standard on cost of living. The Arbitrator also held that the interest and welfare of the public would not be ill-served by adopting the Union’s final offer on wages and benefits. The Union’s offer was therefore selected.
Madison Metropolitan School District
Case 214 INT/ARB-6653 Dec. No. 27611-A (Tyson, 08-31-93)
Employer offer selected.
Wages was the only issue in dispute.
The parties disagreed over the appropriate comparables with the employer arguing for the contiguous 8 districts and the Union for the 10 largest district in Wisconsin. The Arbitrator found as follows:
The Employer’s comparables are by definition more proximate. The Union’s comparables are more similarly sized in terms of enrollments and valuations (UX 41-42). The Arbitrator is persuaded by the Union’s evidence and argument that the support staffs in the “big 10” are more comparable in terms of the similarity of jobs. Evidence was not directly supplied indicating relative differences in training or education. Evidence and testimony regarding the diversity of clientele, and especially the nature and diversity of jobs and degree of specialization of services provided at the MMSD indicate more similarity to the “10” than to the “8.” In the instant case, there is a relatively complete set of data on the 10 largest districts to use for comparisons. While not as proximate, these districts are more similarly sized and the services appear to be more similar, so they will be given a primary role for comparison purposes under criteria (d). The contiguous 8 districts have a number of employes providing undoubtedly similar services and will be given secondary consideration.
With respect to wages, the Union argues that the Arbitrator should base his award on consideration of percent increases in wages among comparables while the District argues for comparisons between wage and benefit levels (benchmarks).
The Arbitrator reasoned:
The Arbitrator is not willing to discard comparisons of salary levels at benchmarks. He understands that there are recognized differences in general salary levels between employers which are deemed “comparable” based on bargaining history, costs-of-living, and other factors and understands that these are not to be significantly disturbed except for very compelling reasons. This is the second reason for urging percent increase comparisons. Employers make the same argument when they pay below average. Arbitrators tend to be conservative, espousing a view that their award would best mimic a voluntary settlement, and thereby cause the least disturbance. They are not of one voice in preferring similar dollar increases over percent increases or vice versa, and tend to look at both (in addition to wage levels). Wage increases, whether absolute or percent, will also be compared in order to determine which of the two very reasonable offers is “more reasonable” in this case.
What conclusions can be drawn regarding the reasonableness of the offers under criteria (d.)? The evidence is mixed regarding wage increases. The Union’s offer is closer in a relative sense, although the District’s offer is closer in an absolute sense. given the differences which exist in wage levels between the MMSD and the other 9 large districts, it appears to the Arbitrator that the District’s offer is to be preferred. Were the District to have made an offer which included wage increases which were on both accounts significantly less than in the “9” based on wage level comparisons, such a conclusion would be difficult to find.
Other factors and issues:
The nature of the disputed comparisons of MTI-SEE unit employes and other local public employes follows somewhat along the lines of the above discussion. Citing possible inaccuracies in making comparisons and the need to maintain historical wage relationships, the Union examines the respective percentage offers in light of other internal units’ 1992-93 increases as well as for other Dane County and Wisconsin public employers and finds the District’s offer wanted. The MMSD Custodial, Food Service and Teacher’s units received 4.3% increases during 1992-93, the last year of their 2-year agreements. The Union’s offer for 1992-93 would be preferred based on this criteria, but there is no additional, real basis for the evaluating the subsequent year offers. Other local public employes are receiving percent wage increases which average 4.13% – 4.17%, equidistant from the parties’ offers for 1992-93 (Ux 47). The one settlement for 1993-94 (Dane County) is also between the parties’ offers. The State of Wisconsin Secretary I, however, will be receiving a percent increase which is closer to the Employer’s offer. The Union’s evidence also shows that secretaries employed by other local public employers may be paid at levels somewhat less than at MMSD (UX 46). The Arbitrator would consider these comparisons to only suggest that the Employer’s offer is preferred under criteria (e.) for all of the reasons cited by the Union.
Comparisons under criteria (f.) would favor the Union’s offer were comparisons limited to percent increases of unionized secretaries employed in the three large private firms cited by the Union. These wage levels tend to be somewhat lower than in the MMSD. The Employer’s evidence, a survey encompassing a larger sample of private employers, suggests to, but does not convince the undersigned that the MMSD wage levels are higher. The Union’s objections discussed above are noted. Cost-of-living and overall compensation criteria are less determinative in this Award. The offers are both reasonable and vary little from CPI changes. Since this is a wages-only dispute, the parties’ evidence and arguments have for the most part focussed on wage comparisons. Lastly, the interests and welfare of the public may be better served by an award in favor of the District if it serves as a precedent for pending settlements and/or arbitration awards, given the legislation recently passed. However, these and other employes should not shoulder the burden of meeting the District’s budget without reduction in services, particularly if, in the Arbitrator’s opinion, unit employes are under the new challenges to which they have testified.
DeSoto Area School District
Case 22 INT/ARB-6654 Dec. No. 27644-A (Oestreicher, 09-17-93)
Employer offer selected.
The Arbitrator first had to decide on the comparability pool with the Employer arguing that the list should be limited to Ridge and Valley Athletic Conferences, while the Union argued that La Crosse, Viroqua and Westby should also be included. Because only 3 of the 8 conference members had organized support staffs, and because residents of Viroqua and Westby are more likely to be located in the same labor pool and share the same social, economic and political factors which affect decision making in Desoto than the residents of some of the other athletic conference school districts, and because the equalized value tax base and rural-agricultural nature is similar, the Arbitrator included Viroqua and Westby in the comparables.
The Arbitrator found that the District paid higher starting wages for all support staff classification than the average starting wage in comparable Districts; that after 20 years, the District’s cooks, clerical employes and aides receive higher wages than the average comparable employe receives elsewhere; that the District’s offer to increase the wages $.10 an hour each year is substantially below the level or wage increases granted to comparable employes in comparable Districts; that the Union’s wage offer, not including the longevity increment, is close to the average first year comparable increase and is more reasonable than the District’s offer; and that for both years, the Union’s wage offer, not including longevity, appeared to be more reasonable than the District’s offer. When adding the cost of the Union’s longevity proposal to the package the Arbitrator found both of the wage offers appeared extreme. While the District’s total package offer of 5.34% over 2 years appears low, the longevity segment of the Association’s offer drove the total cost well beyond the cost of comparable wage settlements. While the District’s wage offer is parsimonious, the Arbitrator found its total package cost, including health insurance cost increases, is defensible. The Arbitrator found for the District.
Buffalo County (Highway Department)
Case 47 INT/ARB-6316 Dec. No. 27522-A (Michelstetter, 09-21-93)
Union offer selected.
Based upon a review of the agreed-upon comparables, the Arbitrator found that the County’s wage rates were lower than average in the benchmark positions of patrolman, heavy equipment operator and mechanic; that the overall wages in this unit were somewhat less than those of comparable employes in comparable units; that the wage increase was clearly the determinative issue; that the wage rate comparisons tend to favor the Union position; and that the average increase figures slightly favor the Employer position while the average wage increase figures slightly favor the Union position.
The Arbitrator agreed with the Employer that internal comparability ought to be given highest priority, but he found that the facts in this case establish internal precedents more consistent with the Union position. As this unit was the largest of the Employer’s three units, this suggested to the Arbitrator that this was the unit which would set the precedent, rather than following the precedent. While there was no explanation of the settlement in the human services unit, the award in the sheriff’s unit arbitration was based upon a rational which is not consistent with the facts in this unit. In addition, the Employer made extensive adjustments in the non-union unit in addition to the general wage increase to more competitively pay its employes.
In terms of the other issues, the Arbitrator found the supplemental increase in the probationary rate, foreman rate and sick leave payout to be minor and to have no affect on the result in this case, although the Employer’s position on the probationary rate was favored by the Arbitrator. As for the Union proposal to pay mowers at the grade 5 rate, the Arbitrator agreed with the Employer that the cost of administration of this proposal was unwarranted, and he concluded that the incidental and unwarranted creation of this precedent setting task rate is a heavy negative in the overall evaluation of the Union’s position. According to the Arbitrator, the comparability data in this case suggests that this bargaining unit is in need of some modest adjustment to bring it into comparatively the same position as its other units. The wage increase proposed by the Union was consistent with that needed change and was consistent with the very limited ability of the County to make such adjustment, so the Arbitrator found for the Union.
Shawano County (Sheriff’s Department)
Case 119 MIA-1756 Dec. No. 27622-A (Slavney, 09-27-93)
Union offer selected.
There were three issues in dispute: duration, wages and work cycle. There was also a dispute as to the make-up of the external comparables.
With regard to external comparables, the Arbitrator concluded that the Association had not offered persuasive evidence for deviating from the pool of external comparables utilized by the Arbitrator in a prior arbitration involving the parties.
Duration: The Association proposed a two-year agreement, while the County proposed a three-year agreement. This issue was decided by the outcome on the other issues, and not considered as a separate issue.
Wages: The Association proposed wage increases of 3% effective January 1st, 1% July 1st and 1% December 31st each of the two years. The County proposed 3% on January 1st and 1% on July 1st in each of the three years, as well as an additional 6% effective October of 1993 if its offer is accepted and the Arbitrator’s award is issued by October 1, 1993, and the Arbitrator considered the County’s proposal as if that were the case. (Award was issued September, 1993). The Arbitrator concluded that the Association wage offer was closer to the external comparables average of 4.08% for 1993, and 4.0% for 1994, and that there were no settlements among them for 1995. With regard to internal comparables, the County’s other seven bargaining units were settled for three years at 3% on January 1st and 1% on July 1st for each of the years. The Arbitrator held that the Association had no moral or statutory duty to be “fair” to the employes in the other units, and that at any rate, the Association’s offer was closer to the settlements in the other County units than was the County’s offer. Therefore, the Association’s wage offer was favored on the basis of the comparables.
Work Cycle: The County proposed to change the current work cycle from 5 days on, 3 days off and a 9 hour work day, to a 6-on 2-off, 6-on 2-off, 6-on 2-off, 6-on 2-off, 6 on 3 off and 5-on 3-off and an 8 hour work day. The County offered the additional 6% wage increase as a quid pro quo and 4 “Kelly” days. The County noted that under the current cycle, there is a 2 hour “overlap” on one shift, and a 1 hour “overlap” on another shift, and argued that the money currently spent for such “overlap” time could be used to fund an additional deputy position, and, thus, its offer better served the interests and welfare of the public. The County also noted that under both its proposal and the current cycle, deputies would work a total of 2,054 hours annually. The Association noted the current cycle was voluntarily agreed to in 1982. Further, under the current cycle, deputies are normally scheduled to work 228.1 days per year; while under the County’s proposal, they would be required to work 256.75 days per year. The Association asserted that a 6% wage increase cannot compensate for those additional 28 days of work.
The Arbitrator noted that the County’s proposal required deputies to work an additional 28 days per year. The external comparables showed that four of the seven counties have cycles closer to the current cycle and that in five of the seven counties’ deputies work more than 8 hours per day. Thus, the comparables favored the Association’s position. As to the interests and welfare of the public, the Arbitrator noted that the County’s offer generated higher total package costs than the Association’s offer, and the County had not committed itself to hiring an additional deputy position from any savings that would be generated by eliminating “overlap” time. Therefore, the Association’s proposal was favored.
Marinette School District
Case 43 INT/ARB-6515 Dec. No. 27571-A (Yaffe, 10-07-93)
Employer offer selected.
The issues in dispute were layoff and recall, vacancies and transfers, definition of work week and work year, compensatory time, emergency closing, resignations and separations, paid leaves, health, dental and life insurance, duration of agreement and wages. The parties also disputed the comparables. The District argued nearby Peshtigo should not be used and the Bay Conference should be used. The Union argued internal comparables, the Teachers and the only other group covered by a collective bargaining agreement, the custodians and external comparables of Peshtigo and the Bay Conference. The Arbitrator concluded that on non economic items Peshtigo, represented non professional employes of the District and the Bay Conference and that on economic items the Bay Conference should be used.
On the layoff and recall issue the Arbitrator found the District’s recall duration too short and the Union’s layoff disruptive of established student/aide relationships and thus both unreasonably extreme. On vacancies and transfers the Arbitrator concluded the District’s was a little less unreasonable than the Union’s on the basis of the District need to make necessary and appropriate assignments and the Union’s failure to give any recognition to qualifications. On work year and work week the Arbitrator found the Union’s position less unreasonable as the District’s proposal failed to give any recognition to the legitimate interest of aides to know when and for how long they will be working. On compensatory time the Arbitrator found neither internal nor external comparables supported the Union’s position. On emergency closing the Arbitrator found external comparables supported the Union position no persuasive reason had been submitted by the District as to why it would pose a problem to the District. On resignations and separations the Arbitrator noted the Union cited the Teachers as an internal comparable but failed to provide for penalties as in the Teacher contract when two weeks notice was not given. However the Arbitrator noted the District’s proposal wan ambiguous and not supported by external or any other internal comparables. Thus the Arbitrator concluded the Union’s offer as more reasonable than the District’s. On paid leaves the Arbitrator concluded internal and external comparables supported the Union’s position. On health and dental insurance the Arbitrator found external comparable pattern but that the internal 90/10 split supported the District’s position. On life insurance the Arbitrator concluded internal and external comparables supported the Union proposal that part-time aides receive life insurance coverage. On wages the Arbitrator found the comparables starting and new hires favored the Union’s position and the Arbitrator noted the District’s cap of $7.50 had no rational and that eleven District employes were already making more than $7.50. Because the Union sought a three year duration and because the Union had servitor flaws in several issues on important policy issues the Arbitrator concluded the District’s total package was preferable.
Case 4 INT/ARB-6483 Dec. No. 27601-A (McAlpin, 10-15-93)
Employer offer selected.
Three issues were in dispute: (1) the across the board wage increase for the latter two years of the agreement; (2) when employes become eligible for wage increments; and (3) the Employer’s right to sub-contract.
The agreement was the parties’ first, and the Arbitrator felt “constrained to comment on the comparables” even though they “do not offer determinative guidance” because “the comparables should be defined so as to provide guidance to future negotiations.” The Arbitrator determined separate comparables for economic and for non-economic issues. Regarding economic issues, the Arbitrator concluded that the primary comparables should be “all school districts within CESA #12” with “some additional weight” given to those districts using the Employer’s services. Secondary comparables were “all of the other 11 CESAs . . . with substantially more weight given to CESAs 8, 9, 10 and 11.” Regarding non-economic issues, the Arbitrator concluded that the secondary comparables should assume a primary role.
Addressing the Union’s contention that there is no status quo in a first contract situation, the Arbitrator concluded that the status quo was “the terms and conditions . . . in existence prior to the Union’s representation.” This conclusion reflected that all negotiations have a starting point, and that the parties’ ability to reduce their differences to three issues reflected their mutual respect of that starting point. The significance of the definition of the status quo is that an “extra burden of proof is placed on those who wish to significantly change the collective bargaining relationship.” That burden could be met, the Arbitrator stated, by showing a “quid pro quo” for the change or that other comparable groups achieved the changes without the quid pro quo. Since the Union sought a fundamental change in the relationship, the burden was the Union’s.
Concluding that “either side’s wage proposal fully meets the statutory criteria”, the Arbitrator looked to the remaining issues to resolve the impasse. On the issue of increment eligibility, the Arbitrator favored the Union’s position, even though the Employer argued it altered the status quo. The Employer’s arguments ignored the equity of the Union’s proposal to pay increments on the employe’s hiring anniversary date, and overstated the administrative convenience of moving employes “based on which half of the calendar year they were hired.” The Arbitrator also noted that the comparables favored the Union’s position.
The Arbitrator favored the Employer’s position that it “expressly retains the right to contract out for goods and services.” The Arbitrator rejected the Union’s attempt to restrict the contracting of “bargaining unit work” to cases not involving the whole or partial lay-off of a unit member because: the Employer had acted “responsively and reasonably” in exercising the right in the past; Employer attempts to “circumvent the just cause standard” are “subject to arbitral review;” the Employer, as an employer, is charged with a duty to act reasonably; and the comparables favored the Employer. The Arbitrator included in those comparables employers which “are not unionized” and those “which have provisions allowing sub-contracting.”
Because the “potential harm to the Employer and the status quo considerations of the sub-contracting proposals slightly overshadow the effect on the bargaining unit of the Employer’s . . . increment proposal,” the Arbitrator found for the Employer.
NOTE: One wage issue was over the amount nurses assistants should receive.
Shawano County (Maple Lane Health Care Facility)
Case 120 INT/ARB-6756 Dec. No. 27691-A (Anderson, 10-21-93)
Employer offer selected.
The parties reached agreement on the general wage increase for 1993, 1994 and 1995, i.e., 3% effective January 1 of each year and 1% effective July 1 of each year. At issue were additional increases for Nursing Assistants. The Arbitrator discounted the County’s rejection of Brown County as an appropriate comparable. The Arbitrator found the County’s final offer to be fair in light of the recent wage increases in the public sector and the substantial value of the existing longevity schedule. The Arbitrator found that the County’s offer recognized the need for a differential for Nursing Assistants vis-a-vis the other classifications in the non-professional bargaining unit given the greater level of training and responsibility, as well as the legal registry. The Arbitrator gave consideration to the fact that the County did not have recruiting problems; that the County’s offer was strongly favored by the CPI data; and the County’s offer resulted in wages which were substantially above the private sector average.
City of Dodgeville
Case 15 INT/ARB-6638 Dec. No. 27590-A (Zeidler, 10-25-93)
Union offer selected.
The sole issue is wages for three library employes newly accreted to the bargaining unit. Based on comparables, the low total cost to the City, and the low pay of the positions, the Arbitrator selected the Union’s final offer of a split increase for 1993 with a percentage increase in January and a cents per hour increase in July.
The City list included all municipalities with a population of between 3,348 and 4,291. The Union took all jurisdictions with unionized employes, numbering 41. Neither the Union nor the Employer’s list of comparables was satisfactory in its entirety. The Arbitrator chose 9 of the 41 Union comparables, based on size and geography and rejecting those of larger cities and counties. The City list was of secondary value because with one exception it contained only non-organized libraries.
The City offered flat rates equal to 16%, 10%, and 16% for three classifications in 1992 and 7.7%, 7.7% and 20% for 1993. The Union offered employes a flat rate for 1992 with a split increase in 1993 of 7.5% in January and 25 cents per hour in July. Taking arbitral notice of the cost of living, the Arbitrator finds that the City’s offer in percentage terms is comparable to the cost of living changes. The City maintained that the Union’s offer would put the City way over budget and that this would amount to $7,972.03 if applied to all City employes, excluding the Police. The Arbitrator found that the total cost of the Union’s offer was $790.53. After including all nonunion library personnel, the Library Director, and overtime, the total cost is $1,417.51. The Arbitrator finds that the City could afford to pay the Union’s offer because it is minimal in terms of actual dollars. Catch-up for Library Assistants and Library Aide/Technicians justifies a split wage increase despite the fact that the recipients are three employes newly added to the bargaining unit and there are no split wage increases for any other employes in the contract. The Arbitrator finds the City’s concern about the inevitability of future mid-year increases and a further extension to all City employes to be without foundation.
City of Eau Claire (Transit)
Case 209 INT/ARB-6737 Dec. No. 27582-A (Yaffe, 10-26-93)
Employer offer selected.
Besides wages, at issue is the Association’s proposal for establishment of a longevity benefit of 3% after 8 years of employment and 6% after 12 years of employment, to remain in effect only as long as there is a longevity provision in the City’s agreement(s) with AFSCME Local 284.
The critical issue is Union’s longevity proposal. Based on available evidence, the most reasonable comparisons to make are with drivers and mechanics in Wisconsin cities of similar size which are not in major metropolitan areas. The comparable communities used are Appleton, La Crosse, Sheboygan and Janesville. The Arbitrator finds rate comparisons with transit employes in comparable communities to be more persuasive than the Union’s proposed comparisons with rates paid to other City employes performing similar duties.
The rates of pay (wages plus 12-year longevity) proposed by both parties would exceed the rates in each of the comparable communities for both classifications. Therefore the Union’s longevity proposal is not necessary to provide the unit with a comparable maximum rate of pay. The City’s proposal is more comparable with the percentage value of the bargains reached by the City with other internal comparables than is the Union’s. Also, the cost of living data indicates that the City’s proposal will provide a gain in real income for the bargaining unit. The City’s proposal was therefore adopted.
Case 108 INT/ARB-6776 Dec. No. 27668-A (Petrie, 11-02-93)
The Consent Award set the terms of the parties’ 1993-94 agreement. The parties agreed to incorporate certain tentative agreements together with the wage and retroactivity component of the Union’s final offer into the agreement. The parties also agreed to incorporate the on call component of the Employer’s final offer into the agreement. The parties further agreed to incorporate the following language into the agreement:
The Employer shall pay ninety-three (93%) percent of the premiums for group health insurance coverage that is as good as or superior to the insurance coverage currently enjoyed by members of the bargaining unit. For interpretative purposes, the insurance plans proposed for 1985 by WPS-HIP and HMO of Wisconsin and Dean Care HMO (which shall be offered, if at all, as dual choice options to employees) are ‘as good as’ the current policies. It is understood the Employer may continue to offer coverage under a standard policy or offer dual choice options at its discretion; the Employer’s financial responsibility shall be limited to ninety-three (93%) percent of the least expensive of any dual choice option offered which is as good as present coverage ($132.14 for single and $356.79 for family, effective 1/1/93; and $141.12 for single and $381.01 for family, effective 1/1/1994).
In the event of a hiatus between the 1993-94 agreement and its successor, the parties agreed that the Employer shall pay 90% of any increase in health insurance premiums in accordance with the language set forth above.
Bristol School District
Case 8 INT/ARB-6312 Dec. No. 27580-A (Weisberger, 10-30-92)
Union offer selected.
The Arbitrator ruled that some of the Union’s proposals were predicated on comparability and that it was not required to offer a quid pro quo in exchange for changes because it was only trying to bring employes into the “comparable mainstream”. She also found that “little weight” could be given to either the District’s suggested comparables which comprised certain Racine County school districts or the Association’s suggested comparables which consisted of certain Illinois school districts.
SALARY SCHEDULE STRUCTURE:
The Union proposed to reduce the 14-step schedule to 12 steps on the ground that adjacent school districts had fewer steps.
The Arbitrator ruled that “total package data” is more important than only salary data; that the parties were only $4,227 apart for 1991-1992 and $8,621 apart for 1992-1993, when their total packages were compared; and that this difference was a “close call”.
The Union proposed that substitutes receive an additional 50 cents an hour for 45-minute classes. The District asserted that it seldom used substitutes and that comparables supported its position.
The Arbitrator found that comparables supported the Union and that the increased cost of this proposal was de minimis.
HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE:
The Union proposed an Option Plan under which the Employer would contribute the cost of the single health insurance premium to the WEA’s Insurance Group’s Tax Sheltered Annuity Plan on behalf of those teachers who did not take insurance The Employer objected on the grounds that it already offered a generous benefits package; that its proposal represented an additional long-term cost; and that it would create administrative problems and raise federal tax issues.
The Union also proposed to change the contractual 1981-1982 base year which was used to set the level of health benefits in favor of those provided for in 1992-1993. The Employer objected on the grounds that there was no need for this change and that it would tie the Employer to its present carrier which modifies coverage without the Employer’s control.
The Union also sought the continuation of insurance benefits during the summer months. The Employer asserted that external comparables did not support such a change and that it would be inequitable to impose such a change.
The Arbitrator ruled that the Employer had not rebutted the need for the Union’s proposal for an “Option Plan”; that the Association was correct in substituting the plan in effect in 1992-1993 for the 1981-1982 base year plan; and that the Association’s proposal to make insurance available to resigned or terminated teachers during the summer months was reasonable. She therefore ruled for the Union on the entire insurance issue.
GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE CHANGES:
The Union proposed to extend the time for filing written grievances from ten calendar days to twelve calendar days and to provide for the Union’s right to file grievances on its own to police the contract. The Employer claimed that there was no need for these changes. The Arbitrator ruled for the Union because comparables supported its position.
The Union’s proposal called for raising tuition reimbursement which the Union claimed was supported by comparables and which the Employer conceded was on the “low end”. The Arbitrator did not expressly rule on the merits of these proposals.
TOTAL UNDERSTANDING CLAUSE:
The Union wanted to change the contract’s “Total Understandings” Clause” so as to allow it to bargain over the impact of non-mandatory subjects of bargaining. The District wanted to keep the current contract language, saying that comparables supported its position and that the Union’s interpretation of the current language was incorrect. Finding some “ambiguity in the disputed language”, the Arbitrator ruled for the Association.
Stating that the salary restructuring proposal did not establish any “clear-cut winner”, the Arbitrator adopted the Union’s final offer because its whole package was more reasonable than the Employer’s.
Village of Waunakee (Police Department)
Case 9 MIA-1759 Dec. No. 27679-A (Malamud, 11-15-93)
Employer offer selected.
The sole issue is a wage dispute. The Union had proposed a 7% across-the-board wage increase for both 1992 and 1993. The Village proposed a 5% across-the-board wage increase in each of those two years.
The Union pointed to the high growth rate experienced by the Village of Waunakee and the relatively high cost of homes within the Village. The Union had proposed and dropped a proposal which would have eliminated the residency requirement contained in the parties’ collective bargaining agreement. The thrust of the Union’s argument relative to its wage offer was that the high cost of residential real estate within the Village of Waunakee coupled with the employer’s insistence on a residency requirement forced officers to compete for homes which were beyond their means. The Union noted that the residency requirement of the Village is the most restrictive of any comparable community. Under the comparables proposed by the Union, Waunakee fell into the bottom third of the comparable group even under its proposal. The parties had previously agreed to a wage freeze in exchange for a reduction in the work week. That freeze has resulted in a loss of purchasing power and the Union argued that if the Arbitrator examined a time period including the period of wage freeze, the cost of living supports its proposal. The Village, pointing to a different set of comparables, contended that the comparables supported its final offer. The Village argued that the residency obligation was not in dispute, and was irrelevant to the dispute. The Village argued that the Union’s demand is greater than the wage increases provided by comparable communities to their respective police officers. The Village also argued that its offer exceeded the increase in the CPI over a two-year period by approximately 4%.
The Arbitrator gave little weight to the Union’s residency arguments. It was the view of the Arbitrator that if residency was the source of the dispute between the parties, the parties ought to do something about their residency requirement. The Arbitrator resolved the parties’ dispute as to their comparables and selected the following communities as comparables to the Village of Waunakee: DeForest, McFarland, Middleton, Monona, Oregon, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, and Verona. The Arbitrator concluded that the data presented by the parties as to the comparables established above suggest that not only are the wage rates paid police officers in the Village of Waunakee below average both at the start rate and at the maximum, but that the difference between the average and the rates paid by the Village under the Village offer is moving further below average even with a 5% wage increase in 1993. The Arbitrator went on to note that the Union did not argue nor did the data support a finding that catch-up pay is appropriate. The Arbitrator concluded that a 5% increase and the dollars generated by that increase were closely proximate to the wage increases provided by comparable communities. The Arbitrator also concluded that the Village offer exceeded the level of increase in the Consumer Price Index for 1992 and 1993.
Based upon the above two criteria, the Arbitrator found that the inclusion of the Village’s final offer in the successor agreement was appropriate.
City of Stevens Point
Case 87 INT/ARB-6836 Dec. No. 27735-A (Oestreicher, 11-15-93)
Employer offer selected.
Only issue is wages for the 1993-1994 calendar year.
The Union did not make a case for its requested wage increase in clerical wages and failed to show a catch-up wage increase was justified.
Employer’s evidence of uniform pattern of internal settlements over past years more convincing than Union’s claim that catch-up wage increase justified. City offer also supported by external comparables and because no convincing case made for catch-up and Employer’s offer more in line with COLA, City offer found more reasonable.
City of Brookfield (Fire Department)
Case 87 MIA-1702 Dec. No. 27486-A (Petrie, 11-19-93)
Union offer selected.
Issues in dispute: Acting assignments, application of personnel policy and employe handbook, EMT status of one of the firefighters, time limits for policy grievances, holiday pay, retiree health insurance and vacation scheduling.
There was also a dispute over appropriate comparables. The Union wanted to change the external comparables but the Arbitrator concluded that the Union failed to provide compelling reasons for splitting the previously established Milwaukee suburban fire department into “primary” and “secondary” comparables.
The Arbitrator concluded as follows:
1) A Wisconsin interest arbitrator operates as an extension of the parties’ contract negotiations, and he or she will normally attempt to arrive at the same settlement that the parties would have reached over the bargaining table, had they been able to do so; in carrying out this function, an arbitrator ma properly examine and consider such factors as the parties’ past agreements, their past practices, and their bargaining history.
2) The proponent of significant change in the status quo ante, is normally required to demonstrate that a significant and unanticipated problem exists, and that the proposed change reasonably addresses the problem; an appropriate quid pro quo may also be required to justify the proposed elimination of, or substantial change in an established, existing and defined policy or benefit.
3) While the Wisconsin Legislature has not seen fit to prioritize the various statutory criteria contained in Section 111.77(6), the comparison criteria in general and the so-called intraindustry comparisons in particular, have generally been regarded as the most persuasive of the various listed criteria; this is not always the case, however, particularly where the bargaining history of the parties and/or the specific nature of an impasse item indicate the need for principal reliance upon other arbitral criteria. The relative importance of various categories of impasse items may also vary significantly on case-to-case bases.
4) The primary intraindustry comparison group in these proceedings should continue to consist of the City of Brookfield and the fourteen other suburban communities surrounding the City of Milwaukee which were utilized in prior interest arbitration proceedings.
5) The relative importance of the seven impasse items, as reflected in the record in these proceedings, will be carefully considered by the Arbitrator in the final offer selection process.
6) The Employer has failed to establish a persuasive basis for its proposed change in the status quo ante contained in the retiree health insurance component of its final offer, and arbitral consideration of the parties’ past agreement and their bargaining history, including their 1990 interest arbitration, clearly favors the final offer of the Union in this area. Accordingly, the record favors the final offer of the Union in this area.
8)(sic) The record favors the vacation benefit component of the final offer of the Union in these proceedings.
9) The record favors the holiday benefit component of the final offer of the Union in these proceedings.
10) The Union has failed to establish a persuasive basis for the proposed addition of its personnel policies article to the renewal labor agreement. Accordingly, the record favors the final offer of the Employer on this impasse item.
11) The record favors the action pay component of the final offer of the City in these proceedings.
12) The record favors the final offer of the Association relative to the EMT-DA status of Mr. Schwantes, but this item is entitled to little independent weight in the final offer selection process.
13) The record favors the final offer of the Employer relative to the grievant time limits impasse item, but this item is entitled to little independent weight in the final offer selection process.
The Final Offer Selection Process:
After a careful review of the entire record, including consideration of all of the various statutory criteria, the Impartial Arbitrator has preliminarily concluded that the final offer of the Union is the more appropriate of the two final offers. This conclusion is principally based upon the fact that the application of the various statutory arbitral criteria favors the retiree health insurance, the vacation benefits, and the holiday benefit components of the final offer of the Union, and despite the fact that the final offer of the Employer was more appropriate in connection with certain other impasse items.
Madison Metropolitan School District
Case 213 INT/ARB-6652 Dec. No. 27610-B (Zeidler, 10-20-93)
Employer offer selected.
Issues were wages, holidays and Board training of educational assistants and its cost are also in issue. Also, the appropriate set of comparables are in dispute.
With respect to comparables, the Union argues that the 10 largest districts should constitute the appropriate comparables while the District argues that 9 districts in the vicinity of Madison shall constitute the appropriate comparables because Madison share the job market with said districts. The Arbitrator concluded the primary comparables are those districts around Madison since that’s where available workers are likely to be drawn from. He accepted the Union’s comparables as secondary comparables.
He reached the following conclusions in selecting the District’s final offer:
The offer of the District when compared to the conditions in the primary comparables for wages is reasonable and the more comparable. (The Arbitrator relied more on the dollar amount of raise and rate of pay than the percentage increase.)
The 1990 data offered by the District on comparisons with wages paid to other governmental units in the Madison area for work similar to educational assistants the Arbitrator regards as insufficient for making a conclusive judgement as to the comparability of either offer.
As to comparisons of percentage increases offered in the same unit of government for 1992-1993 wages, the MTI offer is the more comparable.
As for the offers on holidays, the District offer which increases the number of holidays each year by one is comparable and reasonable.
As for comparison of employment in the private sector, the District offer is competitive for persons seeking part-time work, but the higher turnover indicates that the positions are not comparable for persons seeking full-time employment.
The Arbitrator considers the inclusion of an unsigned Memorandum of Agreement between the parties as not appropriately included, even though it constitutes a commitment by the District of pay for training.
As for the changes in the cost of living, the District offer for total compensation is closer to the changes than the MTI offer.
The District has the ability to meet the costs of either offer.
As to the interest and welfare of the public, the District offer, in light of the legislative effort to control educational costs and compress percentage increases of professional employes is the more reasonable.
As to changes during the pendency of the proceedings, the decision of Arbitrator Tyson is an arbitration matter involving clerical/technical employes of the District is a factor weighing in favor of the District offer.
Though the District witnesses gave detailed testimony as to their complex duties, the Arbitrator for lack of evidence was unable to make valid comparisons with whether these duties were superior in detail to those of comparable districts.
In light of the foregoing analysis, the factors of the wage and holiday offers, the cost of living changes, and the interest and welfare of the public specially weight in favor of the District offer.
Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District
Case 58 INT/ARB-6566 Dec. No. 27599-A (Baron, 12-04-93)
Employer offer selected.
Issues in dispute: Wages, language, holiday, parental leave and personal leave.
The Arbitrator concluded that the Athletic Conference was the primary comparable group and a secondary comparable group consisted of the Sun Prairie and Verona School Districts. This conclusion was based on the Districts’ relative size and geographic proximity, as well as the median enrollment, FTE (teachers), cost per pupil, aid per member, equalized value per member, the levy rate and total income per member. The Arbitrator rejected Madison as a comparable due to the extreme difference in size, which factor outweighed the geographic proximity of the two Districts.
Compensation: The Arbitrator found the Association’s proposal to reduce the salary schedule from seven steps to five steps was not supported by its arguments for internal equality with the District’s other units on the grounds that each bargaining unit is unique, has a different community of interest and uses collective bargaining to reach the specific goals of the members. The Arbitrator held that internal comparability was not sufficiently relevant to determine which offer was most reasonable. The Arbitrator noted that the Association offered no quid pro quo in exchange for this substantial change and the median steps of the comparables was eight, so seven was deemed more reasonable.
As to the wage offer, the Arbitrator observed that the District’s offer exceeded the median of the comparable group and concluded it was more reasonable than the Association’s wage offer.
The Association proposed a restructuring of the longevity benefits with the District retaining the status quo. The Arbitrator found that half of the comparables had no longevity benefit, and of the remaining comparables, the District had the most lucrative benefit, so the District’s final offer on longevity was deemed more reasonable.
The Association also sought an additional paid holiday with the District retaining the status quo. The Arbitrator noted the median of the comparables was the same as the District’s offer which was held to be preferable.
The Association proposed a parental leave section to reflect the benefits provided by state and federal laws and the District argued that there was no need to include such language in the contract as it was required to abide by such state and federal laws. The Arbitrator agreed with the District and noted that none of the comparables had language similar to that proposed by the Association.
The District proposed a change to the Personal Leave section by adding restrictive language on its use. The Arbitrator found no compelling need for the change and concluded the Association’s position was more reasonable.
The Arbitrator selected the District’s final offer, having decided the District’s position was more reasonable on all issues except personal leave.
City of Sun Prairie (Police Department)
Case 26 MIA-1805 Dec. No. 27686-A (Kossoff, 12-15-93)
Employer offer selected.
The sole issue in this case is that of holiday pay in addition to pay for holiday hours actually worked. Although Sun Prairie was the only jurisdiction without paid holidays, the Arbitrator noted that double time for holiday hours worked was a partial compensation and that in any event the Union was reaching for too much too soon. Award for the City.
There was disagreement over the applicable comparable jurisdictions. All named Association towns not within 50% of Sun Prairie population were excluded, with the exception of the Town of Madison. The Town of Madison was included because, despite its smaller size, the crime rate made it comparable – especially considering the rate of violent crime – and because it is within Dane County. All jurisdictions but the Town of Madison that were excluded on the basis of population would also be non-comparable on the basis of the size of the police force and number of property offenses. Accepted from the Association list: Fitchburg, Middleton, Stoughton, Monona, and the Town of Madison. Beaver Dam, Watertown and Oconomowoc were chosen from the Employer list because their population and department size was “sufficiently” close, criminal activity is reasonably similar so as to not require exclusion, and physical proximity – no more than 45-50 miles away from the City of Madison.
Sun Prairie is the only community among the appropriate comparable jurisdictions without extra pay for holidays. Coupled with the lack of paid holidays is a long standing contract provision uniquely providing for double time when holidays are worked, which suggests this was specifically bargained. The double time does not supply a complete offset against the lack of paid holidays because, assuming officers work an average of half of the holidays, officers in the comparable jurisdictions at the top earn $600 to $800 more per year than Sun Prairie officers; therefore, the overall compensation factors favor the Association. Nevertheless, the total package proposed by the Association, including paid holidays and time and a half for holidays worked, is nearly double the settlement pattern.
Sun Prairie currently has 10 named and 1 floating holidays, only 1 paid, with double time pay if scheduled to work. Employes are scheduled to work about half of the holidays. In the other jurisdictions all holidays are paid plus the employes are paid if scheduled to work on the holidays. The pay among the comparables are variously straight time (3 jurisdictions) or time and a half (6 jurisdictions). Sun Prairie was second for wages for top officers and for patrol officers second from last, although the spread is extremely small. There is no quid pro quo in the Association’s offer for the paid holidays although the Association suggests that it is giving one by proposing a wage split. However, this results in a one time cost savings of about one third the cost of a single year of adding holiday pay, a continuing cost. The improved holiday benefit amounts to 3.26% on top of a wage increase of 4% at a time when inflation is running at less than 3% The department has not experienced a defection nor are there any problems getting applicants for new jobs. It is not in the interest of the public to settle a contract so far in excess of the established pattern among comparable jurisdictions. Cost of living and pattern established for settlements in the surrounding areas supports the Employer’s offer. Arbitrator finds for the Employer and its proposed status quo for the holiday pay because although something could be done about the holidays the Union wanted to go too far too fast.
Iowa County (Sheriff’s Department)
Case 64 MIA-1674 Dec. No. 27554-A (Vernon, 12-17-93)
Union offer selected.
Wages is the sole issue. The employer proposed a 4% adjustment effective January 1, 1992, a 3% adjustment January 1, 1993, and a 2% adjustment July 1, 1993. The Association proposed to amend 1991 rates to reflect the following catch-up pay increases: Patrol Officer – $1,000, Dispatcher/Jail – $1,200, and Secretary/Matron – $300. In addition, after these dollar amounts are added to the base rates, the Association proposes that there be a 5% across-the-board increase effective January 1, 1992, and a 5% increase effective January 1, 1993.
The Union contended that its proposal is supported by external comparables which the Union contends consist of the following counties: Richland, Grant, Lafayette, Sauk, Green, Crawford and Columbia. The Union also believes the cities of Dodgeville and Mineral Point are appropriate comparables. Based upon those comparables, the Union contends its offer is supported by external comparables. The Union contends that its offer is supported by internal comparables. Specifically, the Union points to substantial administrative wage increases. The Union argued that if the cost of living were to control wage adjustments, wage inequities would never be addressed. The Union points out that it agreed to changes in health insurance that provided substantial savings to the County. Additionally, the Union points out that it, unlike most of the comparables, receives no longevity pay. The Employer agreed that the counties of Grant, Green, Lafayette, Richland and Sauk constituted appropriate comparables and disputed the remaining. The Employer contends that the internal comparables support its position. It argues that it has a settlement with the Courthouse unit at 4% for 1992 and a 3%/2% split in 1993. A similar offer was made to the Highway unit where the Union’s offer is only marginally higher. Relative to external comparables, the Employer contends that its offer is in line with wage increases provided by other settlements. Last, the Employer spends considerable effort arguing that Iowa County is an agricultural county whose farmers have suffered various crises. The County points to a modest increase in the cost of living and notes that median increases in the private sector are about 3%.
The Arbitrator included Crawford and Columbia counties within the comparable group and rejected the cities of Mineral Point and Dodgeville. The Arbitrator analyzed the comparables, and concluded that the wage disparity, when considered with longevity pay showed a need for catch-up pay. It was the Arbitrator’s opinion that there was not a strong pattern of internal settlements. Only one other bargaining unit, the Courthouse, had settled, and the Arbitrator indicated there was no evidence of a historical relationship linking internal settlements. The Arbitrator concluded that the Union’s catch-up proposal deserved more weight than the Employer’s internal comparable argument. The Arbitrator went on to note that some management/administrative positions had received substantial salary increases. It was the Arbitrator’s conclusion that the Union’s final offer was, on balance, more reasonable.
Case 106 INT/ARB-6696 Dec. No. 27680-A (Oestreicher, 12-22-93)
Union offer selected.
The County argued only internal comparable settlements were relevant. Both parties acknowledged Columbia County had previously been recognized as a comparable, with the Union arguing Vernon, Juneau, Richland and Iowa counties should also be used. The Arbitrator concluded there was no evidence to allow for the addition of counties beyond Columbia other than to provide indications of increases being granted in some geographically proximate communities.
Salary issue: The biggest difference in the two proposals is the differences in implementing the parties agreed upon job study “appropriate wage rates”. The County’s offer would fully implement the job study over the contract term, while at the end of two years 11 employes would still be below the study under the Union proposal. The Arbitrator concluded there were no external comparables for 1994 and that the two internal comparables supported the Union wage offer. On health insurance the County proposed to add another HMO to its dual choice option and proposed to bay 90% of least expensive premium which would have been the new HMO. The Arbitrator noted that everyone is aware of the problems associated with increasing health care costs. The Arbitrator found that the County failed to demonstrate why it perceived increased contributions to be necessary. The Arbitrator also found that both the County and employes paid more for health insurance than in Columbia County. The Arbitrator concluded the County’s failure to support its proposal for reducing its contribution to health insurance and the 1993 Columbia County wage settlement supported selection of the Union’s final offer.
Shiocton School District
Case 10 INT/ARB-6389 Dec. No. 27635-A (Petrie, 12-31-93)
Employer offer selected.
The arbitration of the terms of this initial 3-year agreement covering the period July 1, 1991 – June, 1994 for a unit consisting of “all regular full-time and regular part-time non-professional employes, excluding bus drivers and confidential, supervisory, managerial and professional employes,” focused on the following major areas: definition of employes; discipline; work week; personal leave; insurance; a no-strike provision; and wages. The Arbitrator, noting the difficulty in arbitrating an initial collective bargaining agreement, began by analyzing the significance of the status quo in a first contract; the significance of Union representation in determining the composition of the primary intraindustry comparison group; and the method of application of the comparison criteria to the dispute.
The Arbitrator said he would operate as an extension, rather than a substitute, for negotiations, and would avoid giving either party that which they would not have been able to achieve at the bargaining table. Finding that the statutes made no mention of the represented or unrepresented status of comparables, the Arbitrator said that the primary intraindustry comparison group would be the Central Wisconsin Athletic Conference (excepting Shawano-Gresham), regardless of the stats of Union representation. The Arbitrator also concluded that principal weight in the application of the statutory comparison criteria should be placed on the total package comparisons, as urged by the employer, rather than the average individual wage increase compared to the average increases within the organized portion of the athletic conference, as urged by the Union.
Finding that the employer’s total package constituted 26.9%, the Union’s constituted 32.8% and the conference average constituted 18.2%, the Arbitrator held it “quite clear that arbitral consideration of the intraindustry comparison criterion significantly favors the wage increase component of the final offer of the employer.
On insurance, the employer proposed to pay 95% of the dollar cost of health insurance and to prorate benefits based on 1800 hours of work, while the Union proposed proration at 1650 hours worked; the employer proposed to pay a flat $23 monthly premium toward dental insurance, while the Union proposed the employer pay 95% of the premium. On the same bases referenced in connection with the wage discussion, the Arbitrator found the comparables clearly favored the employer’s offer.
Without unnecessary elaboration, the Arbitrator noted that the issues of just cause for discipline and no-strike provisions were of less immediate importance than the economic issues. He found the employer’s reliance on the job security and discipline provision affecting teachers versus support personnel simply misplaced, and no dispute but that the comparisons favored the Union position with respect to just cause. He further found comparables favored the Association with regard to the no-strike provision.
On the items such as personal leave, paid breaks, emergency closing, definitions, the Arbitrator noted that the party proposing a change in the status quo had the obligation to establish a persuasive basis for the change and that some form of quid pro quo may also be required, and that the Association had not met this obligation. The fact that many of the proposals were quite reasonable and possibly even desirable was not the issue, he said.
Finding that the position of the employer was significantly favored on the major cost items, including salary insurance, and the position of the Union was favored on such items as just cause and no strike language, the Arbitrator concluded it was clear that the offer of the employer was clearly favored by the record.
Iowa County (Highway Department)
Case 66 INT/ARB-6386 Dec. No. 27608-A (Tyson, 01-14-94)
Union offer selected.
This arbitration, involving Iowa County and the Iowa County Highway Department Employes Local 1266, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, involves a dispute over the single issue of wages. The County offered a base wage increase of 4% beginning January 1, 1992, a 3% increase on January 1, 1993, and a 2% increase on July 1, 1993. The Union’s offer included increases of 3% on January 1 and 2% on July 1 of each of the two years in the contract. The Employer argued that the relevant comparison should be made between the unit employes and Highway Department employes in the adjacent counties except for Dane County, while the Union argued that the most appropriate comparable group consists of Highway Department employes in all of the adjacent counties as well as in Crawford and Columbia counties. It was the position of the Employer that its offer provided percentage increases in wages which were in line with the comparable external settlements. Further, the County argued that its offer was consistent with the internal pattern of
settlements, that it has no difficulty attracting applicants for Highway Department openings, and therefore had no need to provide catch-up increases. Moreover, the County argued that the interest and welfare of the public did not support wage increases of the magnitude included in the Union’s offer, due to the economic difficulties experienced in the area, modest private sector wage increases, and inflation. The County’s wage offer is the same offer accepted by Courthouse employes and offered to the Sheriff’s Department employes in the then-pending arbitration. The Union’s position is that its offer is consistent with increases among its comparable pool, and more importantly, results in wage levels somewhat catching up with the comparable’s average wage level. The Union denies the Employer’s contention that the internal pattern of settlements favors the Employer; one settlement can hardly be considered a pattern.
The Arbitrator, relying upon a prior arbitration award issued by Arbitrator Rice, determined that the contiguous counties and also Crawford and Columbia counties constituted the comparable group. The Arbitrator further indicated that he would give some consideration to Dane County. Based upon this comparable group, the Arbitrator concluded that based on wage level comparisons, the Union’s offer was to be preferred. He noted that the relative benchmark rankings of the members of the bargaining unit will not change with an award in favor of the Union. Other arguments were analyzed and disposed of, but were held to be subordinate to the wage level comparisons. The Arbitrator adopted the final offer of the Union.
Sheboygan County (Sheriff’s Department)
Case 156 MIA-1731 Dec. No. 27593-A (Stern, 02-02-94)
Employer offer selected.
The sole issue in dispute was over health insurance. There was also a dispute over what constitutes the appropriate comparables.
With respect to the appropriate comparables the Arbitrator relied on the eight counties relied on by both the employer and the Union. He excluded five other counties relied on by the Union and acknowledged that he may be departing from comparables accepted by prior arbitrators. He reasoned that none of those previous awards were furnished to him so he was not able to give them due consideration. Under the circumstances, he accepted those relied on by both parties and made it clear that it was not his intent to be proposing a new set of comparables to be used in future cases.
With respect to the insurance issue the Union proposed status quo with respect to the plan and contributions (no employee contributions). The employer proposed status quo for the term of this agreement because of the impracticality of making it retroactive, but it proposed a PPO arrangement, 5% employee contribution, more deductible toward claims and a 125 Plan.
The Arbitrator concluded that the type and cost of the plan slightly favored the employer but that the more important issue, and therefore the one given greater weight, is the matter of employee contribution. The Arbitrator stressed that internal comparables are very important in determining health insurance since it made sense to have common fringe benefits that cut across unit lines. He considered external comparables as well. He noted that in the comparables established it is common for employes to pick up 5 – 10% of the health insurance premiums. He concluded that under the circumstances it was not reasonable that this unit should be the only county unit in which employes do not make a contribution.
The Union further argued that the employer’s final offer is retroactive and therefore unreasonable and for said reason should not be accepted. The Union argues that the employer by arguing that it would only be prospective in application is an amendment to its offer and should not be allowed. The Arbitrator reasoned that while this argument has some plausibility it ignores reality. He relied on statutory criterion g and h (providing for any changes in foregoing circumstances during pendency of the arbitration) and therefore the Arbitrator took into account the passage of time.
For the above reasons the employer’s final offer was accepted.
City of Platteville (Police Dispatchers)
Case 18 INT/ARB-6975 Dec. No. 27806-A (Yaffe, 01-05-94)
Union offer selected.
The Arbitrator found that although the City’s offer in percentage terms (4%) was chosen to be the norm among the external comparables, the Union’s proposal was closer to the comparable norm, both in terms of the actual hourly wage and the value of the increase in terms of cents per hour. Also, he said that because the rates of the dispatchers in the City were so close to the low end of the comparable range and so below the comparable norms, the Arbitrator believed the Union’s proposal should be adopted.
City of Wisconsin Dells
Case 29 INT/ARB-6850 Dec. No. 27701-A (Yaffe, 01-28-94)
Employer offer selected.
The Arbitrator determined that external comparability considerations, as well as the City’s legitimate desire to control the escalating cost of its fringe benefit package, supported a finding that the City has demonstrated a legitimate need for its longevity cap proposal. The Arbitrator also found that though the City’s longevity cap proposal would not result in short term losses among unit employes, it could have long term implication in that regard which the Arbitrator determined to be sufficiently significant to justify a reasonable accompanying quid pro quo.
The question facing the Arbitrator was whether the City’s proposed extra 1% lift on unit wages suffices in that regard. Although a close call, the Arbitrator determined that in the context of all the circumstances, the answer was “yes”. This conclusion was based on the fact that under the City’s proposal, unit employes would continue to receive longevity benefits which are of significantly more value than those received by the vast majority of employes in externally comparable units; that unit employes would not incur any economic losses resulting from the cap during the life of the proposed agreement when the City’s wage and longevity proposal are considered together; and that thought the longevity cap could have a long term adverse impact on at least some senior unit employes, the City’s proposal was based upon legitimate considerations and had been crafted in such a narrow manner so as to minimize the economic harm that might occur.
The Arbitrator concluded that the combination of the 1% wage lift over the comparable norm, the red circling of employes who receive benefits above the cap, and the fact that the benefit continue to be tied to wages, contrary to the external comparable pattern, all supported the reasonableness of the City’s efforts to control fringe benefit costs. For those reasons, the Arbitrator found for the City.
City of Greenfield (Police Department)
Case 107 MIA-1784 Dec. No. 27648-A (Vernon, 02-08-94)
Employer offer selected.
There were only two issues: duration and wages. The employer proposed a one-year agreement and the Union a two-year agreement. There was also a dispute over the appropriate comparables.
The parties agreed on some of the comparables but the Union relied on six additional comparables and the employer on one additional comparable. The Arbitrator did not determine an appropriate set of comparables but considered all of the comparables the parties relied on.
The Union primarily relied on external comparables, claiming that most settlements are at 4%/year or more. It also contends that internal settlements support the parties albeit there is only one settlement; that the firefighters 3/5% (1993), 3.0/1.5% (1994) and 3.0/1.0% (1995).
Lastly, the Union argues that the CPI does not favor the employer’s final offer.
The City primarily relied on internal comparables, City or firefighter, and the police supervisors’ settlements. In both settlements, the employers made concessions in health insurance. The employer argued that the internal pattern far outweigh that of any settlement pattern established within the external comparables because a deviation from the internal problem would be unjustifiably disruptive to ongoing collective bargaining within the City. In the final analysis the Arbitrator did not find either offer consistent with the emerging internal or external patterns in all respects. He reasoned as follows:
The City proposal, because it is of shorter duration, affords a better opportunity for the Parties to negotiate a contract that would be consistent with (1) the eventual internal pattern with respect to wage benefits and duration and (2) with the external pattern with respect to total compensation. The more important consideration here is the internal pattern. Adherence to the external pattern of 4% increases has more potential to damage the eventual internal pattern. Under the Union offer, the Parties are located into two years at 4% without any changes in health insurance and without any obligation to negotiate changes. Acceptance of the Union’s two-year proposal at this time would result in at least two rather divergent settlements. If the Supervisors and the City ratify the tentative agreement, the Union offer would be quite different from two internal units that are functionally related as they all involve protective services. It is not in the public interest to have similar employees treated in significantly different ways. Bargaining instability and morale problems are among the many reasons that divergent internal settlement are to be avoided. The City’s offer allows a better opportunity for a consistent internal patter. It does not have the same potential for internal instability. Any differences that may exist in value between the City offer in 1993 and the fire contract for 1993 can be addressed in the bargaining for a 1994 contract. It also gives the Parties the opportunity to negotiate a settlement relatively consistent with the other units, assuming they have settled by this time.
More importantly, selecting the City’s offer will not unduly harm the employees relative to the external comparables.
Based on the above, the employer’s final offer was selected.
City of LaCrosse
Case 230 INT/ARB-6584 Dec. No. 27534-A (Hutchison, 02-13-94)
Employer offer selected.
Besides wages, at issue were City proposals to establish: a comprehensive 100/300 non-drug health insurance deductible; a $2 generic/$5 brand name prescription drug co-pay; an Internal Revenue Code Sec. 125 plan applicable to medical deductibles and prescription drug co-pays, vision, dental and child care expenses; a health care cost containment joint study committee; a shift premium at 30 cents 7-1-92 and 35 cents 1-1-93; and Income Continuation Insurance language permitting the City to self-insure or to select the carrier for the present level of benefits.
External comparables considered were Beloit, Eau Claire, Fond du Lac, Oshkosh, Sheboygan and Wausau. The 1992 and 1993 wage settlements among the externals support the Union’s wage offer and wage settlements among internals plus local public (La Crosse County and School Board) settlements support the City’s wage offer.
However, the health insurance issue is determinative. Employes have paid and would continue to contribute $8/mo family and $0/mo single toward self-insured health insurance under both parties’ proposals. Increasing claims experience shows a need exists to address health insurance costs. The vast majority of the external comparables have adopted a deductible in an amount comparable to that proposed by the City. The Sec. 125 plan will reduce the impact of the deductible on employes’ take home pay. Therefore the City’s deductible is a reasonable response to the demonstrated need to contain health costs.
Winneconne Community School District
Case 14 INT/ARB-6436 Dec. No. 27724-A (Rice, 02-14-94)
Employer offer selected.
Issues in dispute: wages, just cause, work year, work week and day, holidays, WRS and step placement in daily schedule. This was an initial contract for the school district’s support staff. The parties agreed that the teachers represented an internal comparable group. While the Arbitrator considered external comparables proposed by both parties, he noted that it is inequitable to compare collective bargained working conditions with those which have been unilaterally established by employers, and thus those Districts with unionized bargaining units would be primary comparison Districts.
The Union proposed a just cause standard for all discipline, while the District proposed a just cause standard only for discharge. The Arbitrator favored the Union’s proposal, since any employer who wants to discipline an employe should be willing to be held to a just cause standard and there is no reason to have two different standards for different types of discipline. The Arbitrator also favored the Union’s proposal to fill vacancies with qualified internal applicants and provide employes reasons for involuntary transfers.
The District’s proposal for work year, work week and work day was more reasonable and more consistent with the prevailing practice found in comparable Districts. The Arbitrator found the positions of both parties regarding this issue to be much ado about nothing, since both proposals gave the District the right to lay off employes and establish daily or weekly work schedules that change as long as advance notice is given.
The Union’s proposal to give school year employes three paid holidays in the third year of the contract was preferred. The Arbitrator stated that it was time for the District to get on the ship of providing three holidays for its school year employes just as almost every other school did.
The Arbitrator also favored the Union’s proposal that new hires with no experience be placed at step one on the salary schedule, over the District’s proposal that it would place new hires at any step of the wage schedule. It makes no sense to have a wage schedule if the employer does not have to follow it for new hires and it is unfair to existing employes who are tied to it.
The wage schedule was agreed to at the bargaining table, except for the placement of the majority of employes on it. The Association’s proposal puts all employes on a step of the schedule for the 1992-93 year, while the District does not place all employes on a step of the schedule until the 1993-94 year. The goal of a salary schedule is to get everyone on it as early as possible. The District’s proposal would reduce the cost, but robs 17 employes of one step until they reach the final step. That defeats the purpose of a salary schedule and is unfair to 17 employes. Thus, the Union’s proposal to place employes in the second year of the contract was more reasonable. Both parties proposed lump sum amounts to eight employes at the top of the schedule — the Union proposed 20 cents per hour, the District proposed 10 cents per hour, and neither would be rolled into the hourly rate on the schedule. The effect of the District’s offer is that eight employes would get a lump sum the first year of the contract but not after that when they would be on the schedule. Since the purpose of a schedule is to place all employes on it, the District’s position was more appropriate on this issue.
The District had not previously paid the employe’s share of contributions to the Wisconsin Retirement System. Both parties proposed to phase in the WRS payments. The Union proposed that the District pay 3% of the employes’ share the first year, 5% the second year and 6.2% the third year. The District proposed 2% of the employes share on January 1, 1992, 3% on July 1, 1992, and 4% on July 1, 1993. The District would continue its contributions of 6% for head maintenance and career specialist positions.
The Arbitrator found that the District lagged behind in contributions toward WRS and should be moving in that direction. He noted that while it seemed inequitable to pay the entire contribution for 10 employes on the top step of the schedule and not for the rest, the rest would make substantial progress under the District’s offer. The dollar amounts added up to a 90% increase in the annual payment to the WRS in a three year period, which is pretty substantial. The Union’s offer would amount to 126% over that same period and that much catch up is not necessary. The parties can do it in the next contract. The Arbitrator favored the District’s proposal for WRS contributions.
The Arbitrator concluded that the Union reached too far in the economic area. The District’s offer would increase total package costs by 23% while the Union’s proposal would increase 28% over the three year period. It was only because the District made a good faith effort in the economic areas that the Arbitrator selected its final offer, because the Union’s positions on most of the language issues were far more reasonable than that of the District.
City of Appleton (Fire Department)
Case 325 MIA-1679 Dec. No. 27489-A (Hill, 06-07-93)
Union offer selected.
Salary Issue: The Arbitrator found the Union position to preserve its historic difference in bargaining units and to preserve its relative rank among the comparables of Menasha, Green Bay, Oshkosh and Neenah with the Union’s 9.73% over two years more in line than the City’s 8.12% even though it was out of line with the internal settlements that had occurred.
On the issue of part time firefighters the Arbitrator found no external comparables to support the City’s position and concluded that whether the issue was a mandatory subject of bargaining was not dispositive. On the issue of compelling Medical Examinations found the Union position on City mandated medical exams more reasonable. On the issue of normal duty day the Union sought assurances that assignments would not be regularly made outside the normal duty day. On the issued of call back for overtime the City proposed doing away with a requirement that it call back to the same classification that caused the original shortage. This would allow the City to assign on duty employes to positions they were qualified for prior to calling in an employe. The Arbitrator found the status quo to be more consistent with the comparables. Based on these findings the Arbitrator found the Union’s final offer more reasonable.
Boyceville School District
Case 22 INT/ARB-6792 Dec. No. 27773-A (Baron, 02-21-94)
Employer offer selected.
Issues in dispute: wages, health insurance and holidays.
Wages: The Arbitrator noted that existing wage rates were below the conference average minimum and maximum, but found that neither offer significantly changed the relative rank among the external comparables. The Arbitrator also noted that the Association’s offer was more comparable to the District’s other support staff settlements. The Arbitrator, however, found the health insurance issue to be controlling.
Health Insurance: The Arbitrator concluded that a meeting of the minds had occurred between the parties regarding the need for health insurance and that, therefore, no specific quid pro quo was required. Since the District did not raise an inability to pay argument, the Arbitrator did not find a basis for the argument that there must be a gradual implementation of health insurance. Comparing benefits provided to conference aides: The Arbitrator found that the District’s offer was $36 less than the median cost for single plan contribution, while the Association offer is $21 more. The Arbitrator found the District’s offer was exceeded the median cost for family plan by $23 and the Association’s offer exceed this median by $167. Noting that two of the eight comparables did not provide any health insurance and one provided only single insurance, the Arbitrator found the athletic conference comparisons to favor the District’s offer. This analysis was the controlling factor in the deciding that the District’s health insurance proposal should prevail.
Comparing benefits to conference support staff: The Arbitrator found that the median contribution for family coverage was 70%, which was closer to the District’s 60% than the Association’s 90%. The Arbitrator concluded that this information did not shed any greater light than the aide to aide analysis and, therefore, did not accord it any weight.
Internal Comparables: The Arbitrator rejected the teachers and included the bus drivers, custodians, secretaries and cooks. The Arbitrator found the Association’ offer to be consistent with the benefit enjoyed by the internal comparables, but did not consider internal consistency to be controlling.
Holidays: The District proposed the status quo: aides do not have any paid holidays. The Association proposed Thanksgiving as a paid holiday. The Arbitrator found the Association’s proposal to be more similar to other District support staff personnel and the comparable Districts. The Arbitrator noted, however, that the issue of holidays was not brought up in collective bargaining; the Association has not demonstrated a need for the change; and that the Association had not made any quid pro quo offer for the change.
Case 150 INT/ARB-6518 Dec. No. 27585-A
Case 151 INT/ARB-6519 Dec. No. 27586-A
Case 152 INT/ARB-6520 Dec. No. 27587-A
Case 153 INT/ARB-6521 Dec. No. 27588-A
Case 154 INT/ARB-6522 Dec. No. 27589-A (Petrie, 02-24-94)
Union offer selected.
The sole issue in dispute is health insurance. The parties also disagreed over the appropriate comparables.
The parties’ offers are as follows:
THE FINAL OFFERS OF THE PARTIES
(1) The Unions propose the following health insurance to be applicable during the term of the general agreement:
(a) Retention of the status quo ante during calendar year 1992;
(b) Effective December 1, 1993, that Employees contributed $10.00 per month for family and $5.00 per month for single coverage;
(c) Renewal of the parties’ negotiations for 1994 health insurance coverage, to begin in August of 1993.
(2) The Employer Proposes the following health insurance to be applicable during the term of the renewal agreement;
(a) Retention of the status quo ante during calendar year 1992.
(b) Effective January 1, 1993 that the following changes be implemented:
(i) employees to contribute 5% to the cost of single and family coverage, with the cost based upon actual claims experience in the 12 month period ending on October 31 of the prior year;
(ii) implementation of a Section 125 Tax Reduction Plan; implementation of a Preferred Provider Option;
(iii) a 10% co-pay of services by non-participating providers to a maximum of $350.00 for single coverage and $1,000 for family coverage;
(iv) an employee in continuing treatment for the same illness for the previous six (6) months, shall continue treatment for six (6) months after the provider leaves the network without payment of the 10% co-pay;
(v) payment for annual physicals by member providers to employees and dependents to a maximum of $150.00 per physical;
(vi) return of 50% of the savings to those employees using preferred providers to a maximum of $100.00 for single and $300.00 for family, with savings to be placed in the Section 125 Plan for use by the employee for other uncovered medical expenses;
(vii) participation in the Supplemental and Additional Life Insurance programs through the Wisconsin Retirement System.
Summary of Preliminary Conclusions:
(1) A Wisconsin interest arbitrator operates as an extension of the parties’ normal collective bargaining processes, and his or her normal role is to attempt to place the parties into the same position they would have occupied but for their inability to agree at the bargaining table.
(2) In carrying out the above responsibility an interest arbitrator will closely examine the parties’ past practices and their negotiations history (which criteria fall well within the scope of Section 111.70(4)(cm)(7)(j) of the Wisconsin Statutes), in the consideration and application of the various other statutory criteria.
(3) The proponent of change in the status quo ante generally must establish a very persuasive case in support of such proposal. This generally entails establishing that a legitimate problem exists and that its proposal reasonably addresses the problem. Wisconsin interest arbitrators also recognize that neither party should achieve the elimination of, or a substantial change in negotiated policy or benefit, without having advanced an appropriate quid pro quo, equivalent to that which would have been required at the bargaining table. The failure of the Employer to establish a persuasive basis for its proposed changes in health insurance and/or its failure to provide an appropriate quid pro quo, clearly favor the selection of the final offer of the Union in these proceedings.
(4)The most persuasive and frequently used arbitral criteria are comparisons, and the most persuasive of these are normally the so-called intraindustry comparisons.
(5)The primary intraindustry comparison group in the case at hand should consist of the counties historically utilized by the parties in the past (i.e. Racine, Rock, Brown, Outagamie, Winnebago, Marathon, Dodge, Kenosha, La Crosse, Fond du Lac, Ozaukee, Manitowoc, Eau Claire, Sheboygan, Calumet and Washington Counties). Comparisons should be on an overall basis, rather than on bargaining unit by bargaining unit bases.
(6) Arbitral consideration of the intraindustry comparison criterion clearly favors the selection of the final offer of the Union in these proceedings.
(7) The private sector comparison arguments of the County were based upon testimony that was far too non-specific and general to be accorded any significant weight in these proceedings. While the internal comparisons and certain other public sector comparisons cited and relied upon by the County tend to support its position in these proceedings, they are entitled to little weight in the final offer selection process.
(8) Arbitral consideration of the interests and welfare of the public and the ability to pay criteria, does not definitively favor the position of either party in these proceedings.
(9) Arbitral consideration of the cost of living criterion somewhat favors the position of the County, but it cannot be assigned determinative weight in these proceedings.
(10)Arbitral consideration of the overall compensation criterion does not favor the position of either party in these proceedings.
Selection of Final Offer:
Based upon a careful consideration of the entire record, including a review of all of the statutory criteria in addition to those cited above, the Impartial Arbitrator has preliminarily concluded, for the reasons referenced above, that the final offer of the Unions is the more appropriate of the two final offers. This conclusion is principally indicated by the Employer’s failure to have provided an adequate quid pro quo in support of its very substantial proposed changes in the status quo ante, and by virtue of the fact that consideration of the intraindustry comparisons does not support the selection of the County’s offer on the basis of comparable costs.
Village of Saukville
Case 8 INT/ARB-6834 Dec. No. 27750-A (Zeidler, 02-26-94)
Union offer selected.
The sole issue was wages, including adjustments for certain classifications.
The Union offered as comparables nineteen other municipalities ranging in size from 38,589 at Fond du Lac to 2,658 at Kewaskum and all are unionized. The Village offered a list of eleven other municipalities within 25 miles of Saukville and ranging in size from 1,565 at Cedar Grove to 6,917 at Plymouth. The Union argued that many of the municipalities suggested by the Village are not organized and that the Village ignored a number of close-by municipalities. The Village argued that the Union’s comparables ignored such factors as proximity, population size, mean income of employed persons, municipal budget, total complement of relevant personnel and wages and fringe benefits. The Village objected to the inclusion of much larger municipalities and those further than 25 miles away or in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. The Arbitrator noted his reluctance to rely on unorganized municipalities in making comparisons. He first selected as comparables those municipalities both parties proposed. He then added two other municipalities, Port Washington and Thiensville, based upon proximity and both size and proximity, respectively. He gave secondary weight to the other municipalities the parties had offered.
The wage issue varied with the different categories of employes, and comparisons were utilized on categorical bases as well. The Union noted the parties’ offers are close for the clerical positions, but argued that catch-up is needed for all of the employes, especially for those in the other positions. The rates for those positions (Water Operator, Wastewater Operator and Operator/Laborer) in Saukville are well below the average in either party’s list of comparables. When the amount employes in Saukville pay toward insurance is considered, they fall below everyone in either set of comparables. Also, half of the municipalities on the Village’s list have longevity and Saukville does not. The Union noted the difference between the rate of the Operator/Laborer on the schedule and the rate for the two employes in that category who are off the schedule is $4.23/hour and argued that such a disparity cannot be justified. The Union’s two-step proposal is the most reasonable way to deal with the catch-up concern.
The Village argued as to the Secretary/Dispatcher, the average top rate for that position in 1993 among the comparables was 80 cents below the Village’s offer. When the step increases are costed in, the Village’s offer is an increase of 13.9% and is more reasonable than the Union offer resulting in 14.4% over two years. As to the Clerk/Typist position, a 3.75% increase is comparable to the average increase among the comparables on the top rate. The average rate among the comparables for the position is 26 cents an hour less than the Village’s offer. In total compensation, the Village’s 13.2% over two years is more reasonable than the Union’s 14.2% increase. As to the Operator/Laborer classification, the Village contends a comparison with employes of other municipalities is difficult due to the differences in the duties performed. The employes in Saukville operate a backhoe, street sweeper or dumptruck, but no other heavy equipment and are not qualified as equipment operators or skilled construction laborers. Catch-up in this category is not appropriate, as the parties dealt with that issue in their previous contract. It is inappropriate to settle an issue in one contract and then arbitrate it in a successor agreement. Further, the employe on the schedule should not instantly gain the rate of employes with 18 to 23 years of service. The Village has upgraded this employe’s rate from when he started by approximately 10% per year. Catch-up in the classification is also not justified in light of the rate the two off-schedule employes are making. When their rate is averaged with that of the other employe, Saukville compares favorably. While the increases given for this classification among the comparables were from 3% to 10%, it is assumed additional duties were assigned where the higher increases were given. With regard to the Wastewater Treatment Operator, a 3.75% increase compares favorably with the average percent increase among the comparables. The Union’s 4.0% and .5% on July 1 offer creates a paperwork and computation burden for the Village that is not justified. As to the Water Treatment Operator, the Village’s 3.75% offer is within the range of average increases among the comparables. Further, this employe averaged a 12.2% increase in each of the three prior years. Similarly, the Utility Maintenance Worker received an average of 11.1% in each of the three prior years and 3.75% is within the range of the average increases among the comparables. The Village argues it is inappropriate for the Union to be proposing higher increases for one group while ignoring others, and asserts such adjustments should be left to voluntary agreement. It also argues that being “behind” does not automatically justify catch-up, especially since the Union had previously agreed to those rates it now argues are low. Further, in any group of comparables, someone is first and someone is last, and the arbitration process is meant to permit employes to achieve a wage commensurate with their duties and in line with the cost of living. Conditions in the community must be considered, along with whether relative position among the comparables is maintained. The Village’s offer maintains its ranking. The Village disputes the Union’s argument for catch-up between the employes within the Operator/Laborer classification, as the Union had agreed to that arrangement. Finally, the Village contends that costing the step increases falls within the statutory criterion of total compensation. Considered in that light, the Village has already provided substantial catch-up for those classifications where the Union is claiming it is needed.
The Arbitrator reviewed the comparables and the evidence submitted in terms of the statutory criterion he was required to consider and reached conclusions he summarized as follows:
. . .
4. The Arbitrator concludes that on the basis of evidence a wage catch-up situation exists in Saukville and the Union offer is the more comparable one in comparison with the primary comparables.
5. In internal comparison within Saukville, no evidence was furnished to the Arbitrator for him to make a comparison.
6. In comparison with workers doing like work on a regional basis, it appears that there is a need in Saukville for a catch-up.
7. In comparing percentage increases in Saukville with increases in wages in the private sector recorded nationally, the Village offer is the most comparable. However as to actual dollar earnings the Arbitrator is not able to make a comparison.
8. In the matter of fringe benefits a slight lag exists in Saukville on some of them, but this does not add great weight to the Union offer.
9. As to the changes in the Consumer Price Index, the Village offer is the more comparable.
10. As to the matter of total compensation among the comparables, there was insufficient evidence to make a judgment, and the Arbitrator repeats that in total compensation also as well as in wage offers, the Village offer compared to the Consumer Price Index changes is the more comparable.
11. The unit of government has the ability to meet the costs of either offer.
12. As to the interest and welfare of the public, the increased costs attributable to the Union must be balanced against the need for catch-up in Saukville. The Arbitrator finds that the total cost difference between the offers is small enough to justify a catch-up effort at this time in the interest of the public.
. . .
The Arbitrator concluded that the weightiest matters were the need for catch-up, favoring the Union, and the changes in the CPI, favoring the Village. Based upon the comparability among the primary comparables, the Arbitrator concluded that “catch-up” was the more weighty factor and, therefore, the Union’s offer was favored.
Sun Prairie Water & Light Commission
Case 27 INT/ARB-685 Dec. No. 27716-A (Hutchison, 03-03-94)
Union offer selected.
As this was the first arbitration between these parties and as both parties offered a different set of comparables, with some overlap between the two groups, the Arbitrator first had to determine the comparables to be used prior to determining the issues. The Arbitrator chose comparables from both groups based on customer base, revenue and geographic proximity. The chosen group of seven comparables included four municipally owned utilities and three independent utilities. The Arbitrator determined that significant weight should be given to the actual two-year percentage increases among the comparables. She found that those utilities established two-year wage increases closer to 8%, the Union offer for two years, than to 6.5%, the employer’s offer. Therefore, the Arbitrator concluded that the final offer of the Union more closely approximated wage settlements among comparable utilities and was the more reasonable of the two offers.
In regard to the red-circled employe, the Arbitrator thought that his current assignment fell within the classification on the wage scale; however, in her opinion, the larger issue was reasonableness of the final offers on the wages for the majority of the unit. Regarding health insurance, the Arbitrator found no convincing evidence to support one position over the other.
Therefore, the Arbitrator concluded that the parties’ offers on wages for 1993 and 1994 were determinative of the dispute and found the Union’s final offer to be the more reasonable.
Cudahy Public Library Board
Case 3 INT/ARB-6429 Dec. No. 27543-A (Vernon, 05-15-93)
This was an initial contract between the parties. The wage rate increase for calendar 1994 was 4% across the board.
Marathon County (Library)
Case 210 INT/ARB-6533 Dec. No. 27714-A (Weisberger, 03-07-94)
Union offer selected.
This is an initial contract involving lengthy final offers with a large number of issues. Most issues were minor and therefore would not be determinative. After a discussion of comparables in which the Arbitrator concluded that the two relevant comparables were internal – one for wages and another for fringe benefits – the dispositive issues were narrowed to wages, work hours, and pro-rated insurance benefits for part-time employes. The Arbitrator selected the Union’s final offer because for two of the three significant issues, wages and pro-rated benefits, the Union’s proposal was more in keeping with the relevant comparables.
The Arbitrator notes that the labor market for unit job vacancies is local and not state-wide. Neither parties’ external comparables are very useful because they draw from different geographical labor markets, include non-unionized employes, or are significantly different in size or organization. For wages, the most relevant comparable is internal; namely, the Wisconsin Valley Library Service Board because the employes work side by side with members of this bargaining unit and there has been a close historical personnel policy relationship. The Arbitrator rejected Marathon County as a comparable on wages because County non-professionals and paraprofessionals have substantially different job duties and not all are in bargaining units. Eau Claire and Portage County are secondary comparables.
For fringe benefits, Marathon County is the key comparable because County employes, including non-professionals and paraprofessionals, are treated uniformly with respect to benefits. The Arbitrator rejects both the Employer’s contention that Marathon County is not a proper internal comparable for benefits and its’ rationale i.e. bargaining unit members are not employed by the County but by a separate entity, the Marathon County Public Library Board.
The parties’ final offers differ in amount and approach. The Employer relies on percentage increases and the Union on cents per hour arguing that there is a need for equity and catch-up and the proposal is more in keeping with the WVLS wages. Although the cost of living supports the Employer’s offer, the primary comparable supports the Union. The Arbitrator notes that while percentage increases are most common with public sector employes, cents per hour is often used with lower paying workers.
Pro-Rata Fringe Benefits:
The Union proposed pro-rated health insurance benefits for the many bargaining unit employes who are part-time, including those that work less than 20 hours a week and currently have no health benefits. Part-time Marathon County employes have pro-rated health and dental plans. The Arbitrator found that for the pro-rated fringe benefits internal compatibility with other county employes and built-in constraints disfavoring participation favors the Union’s offer.
The Union’s final offer contained a clause requiring agreement between employe and supervisor where there are significant changes in final schedules. The employer needs flexibility to operate its branch library system while meeting its budgetary and statutory constraints. The low turn-over shows that even among part-time employes the jobs are considered permanent and the employes have an interest in job security. If work hours were the only issue the Employer’s language would be chosen because of inherent problems in the vagueness of the Union’s language such as failing to address situations when work hours would be increased.
Case 53 INT/ARB-6983 Dec. No. 27889-A (Michelstetter, 03-08-94)
Employer offer selected.
One issue was in dispute: health insurance contribution.
The parties had a reopener in their 1991-92 collective bargaining agreement which provided “should the 1992 health insurance premium rates exceed either $450 family and/or $225 single, the parties agree that the contract shall be re-opened for the purpose of negotiating wages and/or health insurance provisions.” The parties also agreed “Any impasse in said negotiations is subject to interest arbitration under Section 111.70, Wis. Stats.”
The County’s premium equivalent (the County had a self-funded health insurance plan for four of its five bargaining units in 1992) for 1992 was $505.65 family/$222.94 single. Accordingly, the agreement was reopened. The Union proposed that the County pay the “full” contribution. The County proposed that the bargaining unit employes pay a portion of both family/single premiums over the aforesaid amounts. The Arbitrator concluded that the County’s offer was supported by internal comparisons and other relevant considerations. In reaching this conclusion, the Arbitrator first rejected the Union’s contention that the County acted in bad faith to prevent the Union from proposing changes in health insurance which would have prevented the 1992 problem. In this regard, the Arbitrator pointed out that contrary to the Union’s assertion the County did point out the problem with increased health insurance premiums to the Union early in negotiations but the Union simply believed this was “rhetoric” and failed to follow up on it. The Arbitrator also noted any delay in the County’s disclosure of problems with increased health insurance premiums was due to a mistaken belief they were “related to one-time factors which were going to be corrected in subsequent months,” not bad faith.
Likewise, the Arbitrator rejected the Union’s reliability on the internal comparability criterion. The County’s proposal for the 1993-94 agreement proposed waiving the health premium due from employes for the 1992 year, as a condition of settlement. All other bargaining units accepted this proposal thus preventing additional health insurance costs to employes for 1992. The Arbitrator opined that proper application of the internal comparison factor would not take into account the fact that the County waived the contribution for 1992 as part of the 1993 settlement since its offer was equivalent to an offer of an additional one-time only signing bonus. “By considering the Employer’s waiver of the 1992 contribution as part of the 1993 settlement, in the 1992 arbitration, the Union splits the issues for the 1993 year and effectively defeats the final offer aspect.” The Arbitrator concluded that a prime consideration for his decision was an interest in preserving the final offer nature of interest arbitration and was properly a basis for decision pursuant to the “other factor” criterium for selecting a final offer. While rejecting the Union’s attempt to make a final offer which would obtain both the increase it sought and an additional one-time payment which would equate to the amount waived by the County in other units, the Arbitrator pointed out his Award should not be viewed “as precluding the adoption of such an offer if the arbitrator of the 1993 package finds it’s appropriate.”
Lafayette County (Highway Department)
Case 49 INT/ARB-6656 Dec. No. 27739-A (Yaffe, 02-28-94)
Employer offer selected.
The Union proposed capping the County’s contributions for health insurance premiums by increases of $25 for the family plan and $18 for the single plan effective January 1, 1995. The Union also proposed deleting language which pertained to the consequences of changing health insurance carriers. The County proposed new language entitling it to provide comparable coverage from a different insurance carrier.
Stating that the Union’s proposal for an insurance cap after the contract expired “is not consistent with the terms of a two-year agreement” and that “it is probably unenforceable”, the Arbitrator ruled that the County’s offer was more reasonable in this regard. He further found that the Employer’s proposal to change carriers was supported by internal comparables and that it “addresses a potentially troublesome issue in a frequently utilized manner. . .” He therefore deemed the Employer’s proposal on the issue to be more reasonable.
The Union proposed continuation of the current classification scheme providing for skill and skilled classifications. The Company proposed merging the two into one laborer classification.
The Union also proposed a split wage increase of 2.4% and 2.9% in 1993, and 2.8% and 2.9% in 1994 for skilled and foreman positions. It also sought a split 2%/2% in 1993, and a split 2%/2% increase in 1994 for the semi-skilled and construction classifications. The County proposed a 1.7% increase for semi-skilled classification and an across-the-board 2%/2% split increase in 1993 and a 2%/2% split increase in 1994 for other employes. The County also proposed that the wage rate for seasonal employes remain open, while the Union proposed continuation of the contract’s $5.00 an hour rate.
The Arbitrator found that while there were no clearly-established external comparables, the internal settlement pattern, though not uniform, supported the County’s wage offer and he therefore selected it.
As to the classifications, the Arbitrator selected the Union’s offer because the County’s proposal appeared “to contravene the practice in highway departments in surrounding counties to pay premium rates for skilled work”, and because the County had “failed to persuasively demonstrate that the current system is causing sufficient problems for the County to justify such a significant change in the status quo”.
The Union proposed that work performed on all holidays, including December 24 and 31, be paid at the rate of time and one half, in addition to holiday pay. The County urged continuation of status quo which provided for time and a half and holiday pay for all holidays, except December 24 & 31.
The Arbitrator found that neither external nor internal comparables clearly favored either side’s proposal and selected the County’s offer because there was “no strong evidence” that the current practice is out of the “comparability mainstream.”
The County proposed new contract language which stated that generally only one steward would be authorized to investigate and/or present grievances and that no bargaining unit members be paid for time spent in bargaining, mediation, and/or arbitration.
The Arbitrator determined that the County’s attempt to limit the number of Union stewards “appears on its face to be reasonable”, but that its attempt to contain employe involvement in arbitration and bargaining proceedings “appears to be overly broad in that it does not narrowly address the abuse issue.” Because of its “overly broad nature” and the lack of comparability support, the Arbitrator rejected the County’s proposal.
The Arbitrator concluded that the County’s proposals on health insurance, wages, and holidays were more reasonable than the Union’s, and that the Union’s proposals regarding classifications and Union activity favored the Union. He thus ruled that the County’s offer was better overall.
City of Racine (Fire Department)
Case 386 MIA-1696 Dec. No. 27448-A (Conway, 03-22-94)
Union offer selected.
Four issues were in dispute: the City’s proposed addition of health insurance “Coordinated Care Provisions;” the City’s proposal to clarify that its contractual obligation to pay 8% of salary to Wisconsin Retirement Fund as and for employe contributions requires the City to pay no more than the state mandated employe contribution; the Association’s proposal adjusting the start date for the 27 day work periods used for determining overtime payments under the FLSA; and the Association’s proposal that the City’s written policy of paying the cost of repairing or replacing uniforms and equipment damaged in the line of duty be incorporated into the contract.
The Arbitrator found the Association’s proposal to include the repair/replacement language in the Agreement reasonable in light of the nature of the fire fighters’ work.
The Arbitrator found the Association’s overtime proposal to be neither significant nor detrimental, noting that the City did not raise any significant objections to it.
The Arbitrator finds the Employer’s proposal to limit its payment of employe contributions to WRF to the state mandated amount “totally requires a decision for the Employer’s final offer, but the inclusion of the Coordinated Care Program is so offensive that it nullifies that conclusion and requires a finding and preference for the Union’s offer.” No other comparable state-wide pays more than the state mandated amount to WRF, and the parties’ agreement to 8% was entered into prior to a reduction in the WRF mandated amount to 7.5%. The Union seeks a windfall that is totally unjustified. The language of the City’s offer would not permit it to pay less than the state mandated employe contribution unless that mandate exceeded 8%.
Regarding the insurance issue, the Arbitrator notes that the Association and City agreed to increase deductibles from $75/225 to $100/300 effective on 1-1-93. The City has implemented the Coordinated Care Program with about 1/3 of its workforce. The Arbitrator agrees with the Association that that Program is “an absolute potential catastrophe for individuals subject to its application.” The program involves a $200.00 penalty for failing to follow procedures including pre-admission notification of all hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health care and hospice service admissions, pre-surgery review, and due date for delivery. It also imposes individual case management arrangements and “a variety of other potential restrictions which seem to actually overrule and second-guess the primary physicians’ judgment and preferred approach to the medical problem.” The Arbitrator finds the program potentially far more costly than the Union’s pension proposal, and fraught with uncertainties, distortions and potential sources of disputes. “It plainly seeks to distort appropriate medical judgments in order to reduce expenses. . . . It obfuscates, confuses and contradicts the meaning and intent of the other basic promises of the Medical Program. For this reason alone, I must favor the Union’s final offer and refuse the Employer’s final offer.”
Manitowoc County (Department of Human Services)
Case 269 INT/ARB-6666 Dec. No. 27753-A (Rice, 04-07-94)
Employer offer selected.
The issues in dispute in this arbitration were wages for 1992 and language proposing to change the criteria for reclassifying social workers.
With regard to the comparables, the Arbitrator relied primarily on the internal comparables and the external comparables contained in a 1983 interest arbitration award that involved a different County department.
With respect to the reclassification language, the Arbitrator found that the Union’s proposal to change the criteria for reclassifying employes from Social Worker II and III to Social Worker III and IV, respectively, was not significant. In his view, the differences between the parties’ language was insignificant.
The Arbitrator found that the Employer’s wage proposal for 1992 was closer to the internal and external patterns than the Union’s salary proposal. With regard to the internal pattern, he acknowledged that some of the Employer’s employes received increases somewhat larger than the 5% proposed by the Employer for the social workers, but he concluded there were special reasons for doing so. As a result, he did not rely on them. With regard to external patterns, the Arbitrator noted that only one of the external comparables gave its employes a greater percentage increase than 5% The Arbitrator found that a 5% increase would maintain the social workers’ ranking with respect to wages in the external comparable groups. He therefore found that the Employer’s 5% wage proposal was reasonable and more acceptable than the Union’s 5.8% wage proposal.
Overall, the Arbitrator found the wage issue to be the dominant issue in this arbitration and the one that controlled the outcome. He therefore found for the Employer.
City of New Berlin
Case 74 INT/ARB-6965 Dec. No. 27903-A (Zeidler, 04-11-94)
Union offer selected.
The issues in dispute were (1) a proposal by the City to change the Hours of Work clause from the current specified shift starting and ending times to general language providing for an 8 hour day and 40 hour work week; (2) a City proposal that the economic items are only retroactive for bargaining unit employes who are on the payroll at the time the successor agreement is executed. On the issue of retroactivity, the Arbitrator said because there was a lack of comparables to support the City’s proposal and the Union contended there existed a contrary past practice that the issue “is best treated if and when a specific case arises under the new contract and someone who is terminated between the expiration of the previous contract and the execution of a new contract seeks retroactive pay.” The main issue in dispute was the City’s hours proposal. The Arbitrator stated he had difficulty with the position of each party on this issue. He found the Union’s inflexibility in negotiating alternative hours for the landfill leads to a conclusion that the present language on starting times is too inflexible. On the other hand, he found the City proposal would give it “carte blanche for changing hours,” and such a right was not supported by the comparables. Thus, the Arbitrator concluded the lesser of two evils was to maintain the present provision of a defined starting and ending time because he believed finding for the City would lead to enough disruption in employe lives that it could conceivably result in multiple grievances.
Based upon that rationale, the Arbitrator selected the Union’s final offer.
City of Marinette (Fire Department)
Case 64 MIA-1795 Dec. No. 27642-A (Michelstetter, 04-12-94)
Union offer selected.
The sole issue in dispute in this arbitration was wages.
The Employer relied on the internal comparables. The internal comparables indicated that all other bargaining units in the City settled for 3.5% which was the same figure the Employer proposed here. In contrast, the Union relied on the external comparables.
The Arbitrator gave greater preference herein to the external comparables than the internal comparables. In doing so, he compared the wages of the Marinette firefighters to the wages paid firefighters in Allouez, DePere, Kaukauna, Sturgeon Bay and Two Rivers, and found that the Marinette firefighters were paid considerably less than their counterparts. He therefore found that the Marinette firefighters were underpaid vis a vis the external comparables.
The Arbitrator noted that in past negotiations, the Employer had made equity adjustments to its firefighters. He further noted that the equity adjustments proposed by the Union here were similar to those given in the past. He therefore found that salary adjustments in general were warranted and that the specific adjustments proposed here had a historical basis. Consequently, he found for the Union.
Sheboygan County (Highway Department)
Case 195 INT/ARB-6835 Dec. No. 27719-A (Malamud, 04-14-94)
Union offer selected.
The sole issue in dispute was the continuance of longevity payment. Also, the parties disagreed over the appropriate comparables.
Both the parties proposed to include Kenosha County as a comparable. The Arbitrator agreed to same but would not expand the pool of comparables any further because of the absence of substantial and convincing evidence as to the need for such change.
With respect to longevity, the employer proposed to grandfather longevity for employees in the Payroll Plan prior to January 1, 1994. The employer argues that this successor agreement provides security for its employes, the interest and welfare of the public will be best served by eliminating longevity for new hirees, that its longevity is the highest of any comparable, and that only 3 comparable counties have a longevity program in place.
The Arbitrator held that an arbitrator must balance evidence on the following four considerations in deciding a change in status quo: (1) If, and the degree to which, there is a demonstrated need for change, (2) if, and the degree to which, the proposal reasonably addresses the need, (3) if, and the degree to which, there is support in the comparables, and (4) the nature of a quid pro quo, if offered.
The Arbitrator concluded that the comparability criteria clearly supported the employer’s limitation on longevity. He found the employer’s quid pro quo (a $500 bonus upon ratification) was inadequate.
The Arbitrator found that internal comparability was the determinative criterion.
This criterion is determinative of this dispute. Sheboygan County has settled with all other bargaining units. All other units have the identical longevity program from 2.5% to 12.5% over the period of 5 years to 25 years in effect in their agreements. Three year agreements were entered into with these other units without touching the longevity program. The County Nurse unit is in arbitration. However, longevity is not an issue in that case.
There is no evidence in this record to suggest that the wage structure for Sheboygan County Highway Department is any different than any other unit. There is no evidence to show that the wage rates for institution or clerical support employees are below those of employees in comparable counties to the point that longevity serves as a basis for repaying employees of long service for enduring substandard rates. There is not a scintilla of evidence so suggest why Sheboygan County Highway Department employees should have longevity grandfathered while employees in all other units should continue to enjoy the longevity benefit. The County ignores this issue in its presentation and argument.
The Arbitrator finds this criterion determinative. To permit the employer to upset the internal comparability pattern through this interest arbitration award, will only create confusion in the collective bargaining relationship between the County and its other employees.
Selection of the Final Offer:
In the above discussion, the Arbitrator finds that the interest and welfare of the public criterion does not serve to distinguish between the final offers of the parties. The County argues that the Stipulations and agreements reached serve as a basis for selecting its final offer. However, those agreements stand on their own, and the agreed to items provide mutual benefit to both parties. The criteria, Comparability and Such Other Factors-Quid pro quo serve as the basis for distinguishing between the final offers of the parties. In the final analysis, the dramatic break in the pattern of bargaining reflected in the County’s final offer serves as the basis for the selection of the Union’s final offer for inclusion in the successor Agreement. The Union proposes the retention of the status quo on longevity in the same manner that the status quo has been retained for identical longevity programs for the other collective bargaining units of Sheboygan County.
On the basis of the above Discussion, the Arbitrator selected the Union’s final offer.
Forest County (Sheriff’s Department)
Case 66 MIA-1746 Dec. No. 27786-A (Hutchison, 04-18-94)
Union offer selected.
The only issue in dispute was wages. The County argued that the overall economic conditions in Forest County are such that, although the employes deserve an increase, the increase must be matched to what the County’s residents can afford. The Deputies are among the highest paid employes in the County and receive more generous fringe benefits than many other employes in both the public and private sectors in the County. Historically, the Deputies have received lower wages than their counterparts in other counties, however, there has been virtually no turnover. Last, the County argues its offer exceeds the CPI and that fact, along with the economic conditions of the County, make the County’s offer more fair and equitable.
The Association notes that the difference between the parties’ proposals totals $6,000 over the two years. The Association argues that its offer is the more reasonable of the two based on the settlements among the comparables for 1993 and 1994. The Association also offered Marinette County as an additional comparable based upon its inclusion in the comparables in a prior arbitration involving another County bargaining unit. On average, the settlements among the comparables for 1993 and 1994 was 4.7% and 4.2%, respectively. Regardless of which offer is selected, the disparity in wages between Forest County and the comparables will increase, but it will be less under the Association’s offer. All of the settlements among the comparables for 1993 were higher than the Association’s offer and the three settlements for 1994 are closer to the Association’s offer than the County’s. As to the argument that the deputies are among the highest paid employes in the County, it is inappropriate to compare wages of certified law enforcement personnel to wages of unskilled laborers.
The Arbitrator agreed that Marinette County should be included in the comparables based on its geographic proximity. While the County also offered comparative information on the wages of private sector employes in the County, the most productive comparison is with similarly trained deputies of comparable counties. Of the comparable counties, the Arbitrator concluded that Florence and Langlade were particularly relevant in terms of population size, gross tax rates, and department size. Florence County granted 3.5% increases in both 1993 and 1994. Langlade was settled only for 1993 at 4.5% (3% January 1 and 3% July 1, 1993). Marinette County settled at slightly over 4.5% in 1993. (3% January 1, 3% July 1, 1% December 1), and Oneida County settled at 3% (2% January 1, and 2% July 1) for 1993 and 4.5% (4% January 1 and 1% July 1) for 1994. The Arbitrator looked at past settlements in this unit and concluded that the increases suggested a concern for catch-up. Under the County’s offer, the gap between wages for Forest County deputies and wages for deputies in the comparable counties will widen. Therefore, even in the face of economic constraints facing the County, the Association’s final offer was more reasonable.
City of Rhinelander
Case 68 INT/ARB-6741 Dec. No. 27830-A (Johnson, 04-20-94)
Union offer selected.
The Union proposed to increase all rates by 3% effective January 1, 1993; by 2% July 1, 1993; and by 4% January 1, 1994. The Union also proposed separate wage adjustments for 11 classifications in July of each year. The employer proposed the same increases in January and July, 1993, and 3.75% January, 1994, and wage adjustments for 9 classifications in July, 1994.
The Union based its arguments on wages in 12 communities it considered comparable, a list used in prior arbitrations. The City argued that breaking its internal patter of 3.75% general wage increases would create a disparity and injure its relations with the other units; that the Union’s financial analysis was incorrect, that the Union’s proposal sought to catch-up these wages in too short a time; and that its offer was fair and equitable.
The Arbitrator found that the City made a good argument as to the interests and welfare of the public in Rhinelander and comparisons to other employes performing similar services. The Arbitrator found there to be a valid presumption that other things being equal, it is desirable that there be uniformity in collective bargaining within an employer’s work force. But in evaluating comparisons outside the employer’s workforce, the Arbitrator found that the City had not made a persuasive case for changing the comparables already established.
While making wage comparisons is an inexact procedure, the Arbitrator attempted to do so in that the decision in this case depended on balancing the City’s argument in favor of uniformity against the Union’s evidence purporting to show that there were large adverse differentials between City rates in these classifications and the rates for those classifications in the comparables, differentials so large that except in one classification neither the Union’s upgrade proposal, not its extra .25%, would eliminate the differentials.
The Arbitrator found the Union had made a persuasive case, convincing enough to justify the extra quarter percent and to overcome reservations about lack of uniformity in settlements. As to the issue of overall compensation, the City’s argument that four of the comparable communities required some employe contribution to health insurance was overcome by the fact that the majority of the communities did not, which supported the Union position.Award for the Union.
Case 67 INT/ARB-6701 Dec. No. 27811-A (Petrie, 04-26-94)
Union offer selected.
The only issue is wages. The Association relied primarily on comparisons with externals. The County relied primarily on factors limiting its ability to pay.
The comparables pool established in a previous award was given controlling weight in this proceeding.
The County’s very real and very well documented claims of financial adversity and impaired ability to pay cannot be assigned determinative weight in the final offer selection process, over the very real disparity in wages paid, as between the County and the external comparables. The County’s proposal would cause its rates to fall further behind the average rather than taking a reasonable and gradual step toward reducing the historical disparity vs the average.
Cost of living favors the County, but it is entitled to relatively little weight. Overall compensation is entitled to no unusual weight. None of the remaining statutory criteria were significantly argued or can be assigned significant weight in the offer selection process.
Accordingly, the Association’s proposal was adopted.
Oconto Falls School District
Case 12 INT/ARB-6322 Dec. No. 27754-A (Slavney, 05-09-94)
Employer offer selected.
The issues in dispute in this first contract arbitration were hours of work, vacation benefits, bus driver procedures, wage rates for secretaries and maintenance employes, lump sum payments for bargaining unit employes, compensation schedule for bus drivers and retroactivity.
At the outset of his lengthy decision, the Arbitrator addressed which Districts would be considered the external comparables. Each side proposed a different set of Districts. The Arbitrator decided to use all the Districts proposed by the parties as the external comparables.
With regard to the hours of work matter, the Arbitrator reviewed the hours of work provision in the contracts covering the external comparables. After doing so, he concluded that none of them contained the provision which the Association proposed here which required the District to continue to pay pro-rated benefits to laid off employes. He therefore found the District’s proposal on this issue more acceptable than the Association’s.
With regard to the vacation matter, the Arbitrator reviewed the vacation provision in the contracts covering the external comparables. After doing so, he found them to be mixed. As a result, he concluded that neither proposal was favored over the other.
With regard to bus driver procedures, the Arbitrator reviewed the bus driver provisions in the contracts covering the external comparables. After doing so, he concluded that the comparables did not support the Association’s proposal. He therefore favored the District’s proposal on this issue.
With regard to the wage rates for secretaries and maintenance employes, the Arbitrator reviewed the salary increases which the parties had previously agreed upon. After doing so, he concluded that the District’s proposed wage rates for secretaries and maintenance employes were close to the increases which the parties had agreed upon for other bargaining unit employes. He therefore favored the District’s wage rates for secretaries and maintenance employes over the Association’s proposed wage rates.
With regard to lump sum payments, it was noted that both sides proposed lump sum add-on payments for those employes whose 1990-91 hourly rates were above the maximum schedule rates which the parties agreed upon for the 1991-92 school year. The Association’s offer proposed lump sums of 4% for 1991-92, 4% for 1992-93 and 3% for 1993-94. The District’s offer proposed a lump sum of 4% for 1991-92, no lump sum for 1992-93 and a 3% lump sum for 1993-94. The Arbitrator favored the District’s offer with respect to lump sum payments. He also favored the District’s offer with respect to the compensation schedule for bus drivers.
Finally, with regard to the retroactivity matter, the Arbitrator favored the District’s proposal on this issue.
Overall then, the Arbitrator found for the Employer.
Village of Germantown (Police Department)
Case 28 MIA-1753 Dec. No. 27803-A (Vernon, 05-13-94)
Union offer selected.
There were two issues in dispute. The first was the wage increase for 1993, 1994 and 1995. The second concerned a proposed cap in the health insurance program for psychiatric benefits. With regard to the latter, the Union’s final offer proposed a $50,000 lifetime cap on psychiatric benefits while the Employer proposed a $25,000 lifetime cap. The Arbitrator found that the more substantive of the two issues was the wage issue. He characterized the lifetime cap matter as a coattail issue.
With regard to the comparables, the Arbitrator found the suburban communities of Brown Deer, Cedarburg, Port Washington, Grafton and Muskego to be the external comparables.
The Employer relied on the internal comparables to support their wage proposal. The Arbitrator agreed that internal comparables were very important when a well-established internal pattern existed. The Arbitrator found that here, though, there was no evidence of various bargaining units in the City accepting identical increases. As a result, he found no internal pattern existed.
The Arbitrator then looked at the external comparables. After doing so, he concluded that the Union’s salary offer was closer to the average increase than the Employer’s salary offer. He found this to be the case even after he factored in the so-called quid pro quo for the insurance changes. From his perspective, the debate over whether a quid pro quo was necessary was academic since the 1% extra sought by the Union was necessary to keep the overall wage increase competitive. He therefore found for the Union.
Case 196 INT/ARB-6852 Dec. No. 27842-A (Stern, 05-21-94)
Union offer selected.
Union Final Offer:
1) Vacation: 21 yrs = 26 days; 22 yrs = 27 days
2) Salary Schedule: Effective 1/1/94 add 60 mo. step to scale, 3% above 48 mo. step
3) Shift Differential: No proposal
County Final Offer:
1) Vacation: 25 yrs = 26 days
2) Salary Schedule: No proposal
3) Shift Differential: Standardize the PM shift to 3-11 PM and night shift to 11-7 AM
The appropriate comparables were also in dispute. The Arbitrator relied primarily on the 15 counties selected by the employer which also included the 9 counties offered by the Union. The Union stated it did not object to the additional 6 proposals by the County; the Arbitrator did not give significant weight to private sector comparables because the figures were open to differing interpretations.
Vacation: Internal comparables favored Union, external comparables favored employer. The Arbitrator felt the merits of both proposals were about equal. The Arbitrator held that “Since the nurses are better off than their external comparables and will gradually catch up with their internal comparables under the employer proposal, the Arbitrator believes that insofar as the vacation issue is concerned, the employer offer is preferable to the Union offer.”
Shift Differential: The employer does not propose to change the actual shifts but only to standardize the time period at which shift premiums will be paid. This will mean that thirty minutes of the shift worked by day workers at 2 facilities will be covered by the PM shift premium and that 15 minutes of the PM shift at those facilities will be outside the hours covered by the shift premium.
The Arbitrator concluded that the employer had not made a case for its proposal, and that it is not enough to say that the new clock requires standardized starting and ending times for premium payments. This type of change, the Arbitrator opined, should be taken care of at the bargaining table.
Additional Steps: When compared to external comparables the Arbitrator found the Union’s proposal of an additional step placed the nurses’ top rates in the middle of the comparable pack. This, the Arbitrator concluded, means that external comparables slightly favored the Union. The Arbitrator’s preference for the Union’s offer was strengthened by the fact that the employer granted additional steps to the social workers, public health nurses and professional employes of the Division of Community Programs.
The Arbitrator summarized as follows:
The arbitrator believes that the employer offer on vacations is preferable to that of the Union but that this finding carries less weight than his finding that the Union offer is preferable on the shift differential and the additional step — with the additional step being the most important item in dispute. The arbitrator recognizes that bringing the nurses to the median of the comparables will provide some nurses with large increases. However, by its very nature, “catch-up” has such a result. No estimate of the cost of the additional step was provided, possibly because it is relatively small compared to the total cost of the general increase and other benefits. Absent evidence showing that the additional step gives this group a disproportionate increase compared to the other groups of Sheboygan employees who also received step increases, or that it results in an excessive increase in cost, the Union offer is preferable to the Employer offer under the comparability criterion of the statute.
Village of McFarland
Case 6 INT/ARB-6705 Dec. No. 27804-A (McAlpin, 05-26-94)
Union offer selected.
This first contract between the parties centered on wages and health insurance and raised the question of what were the appropriate comparables.
The Arbitrator adopted the six comparables agreed to by the parties: the Village of DeForest, the Village of Oregon, the City of Monona, the City of Verona, the City of Mount Horeb, and the Village of Waunakee. But, he rejected the Union’s suggestion that the City of Madison, Dane County, Town of Madison, Middleton, Stoughton, and Sun Prairie are also comparables. He thus ruled that neither Dane County nor the City of Madison “is in any way comparable to the Village of McFarland based on size structure and complexity of services”; that the Union never showed that townships and villages such as the Town of Madison are ever utilized as comparables; and that the Union in any event did not include other proximate townships in Dane County. He agreed that Fitchburg, Middleton, Stoughton, and Sun Prairie are comparables because of the “proximity, services provided, the hiring of like employes, valuation and proximity.”
As an initial contract the Arbitrator determined “the concepts concerning status quo are appropriate” in addressing the Employer’s proposals for a new wage structure and a change in employe contributions for health insurance; the Employer thereby bears the burden of proof because it “proposes significant changes”.
The Employer proposed a two-tiered wage structure: one for current employes who would receive 3% across-the-board increases in 1992 and 1993 and a lower wage structure for new hires. The Union countered with a uniform wage progression for all employes.
The Arbitrator found that external comparables favored the Union; that but for the Village’s Police Department, some internal comparables favored the Employer; and that both proposals excluded the cost of living. He rejected the Employer’s two-tier wage system because, “the Village simply has not provided enough strong reasons or proven need for. . .” it and because in his experience the absence of parity causes “significant distress among bargaining unit members”. He thus ruled that “the preponderance of the proofs and arguments in the wage area of this case favors the Union’s position”.
The Employer proposed to maintain the status quo for insurance payments throughout almost all of the contract’s two-year duration and then for employes to pay 5% of the family and single premiums effective on the last day of the contract, December 31, 1993. Under the then-current contract, the Employer paid 105% of the gross premiums of the least costly qualified plan, thereby making it possible for employes to receive certain health benefits without paying any insurance premiums.
The Union proposed maintenance of the status quo for the duration of the contract and claimed that the Village’s offer was unlawful.
The Arbitrator sidestepped ruling on the question of legality, saying “this is simply the wrong forum” to resolve this issue. He then found that the internal and external comparables favor the status quo and that, furthermore, “there is no quid pro quo offered. . .” by the Village in exchange for a change in health insurance.
The Arbitrator ruled “the preponderance of the evidence favors the Union’s proposals” on both issues, and he therefore selected the Union’s offer.
City of Milwaukee (Fire Department)
Case 400 MIA-1807 Dec. No. 27788-A (Weisberger, 05-31-94)
Union offer selected.
In addition to wages the following issues were in issue: changes relating to pension benefit escalators, changes in Duty disability Retirement Allowance (DDRA) and changes in Sick Leave Incentive Plan (SLIP).
The Union relies heavily on external comparables while the employer relies primarily on internal comparables in support of its position.
The Union argues that Milwaukee firefighters salary and benefit compensation should be the highest in the State because the work involves older housing, structures with stored chemicals, hazardous industries, trucks transporting flammable materials, heavy highway traffic, etc. Further it argues its wages and pension demands compare more favorably with the comparables than the City’s offer does.
The City argues that clearly internal comparables from the City’s package and the Union’s pension payments will cost the City about 18.2% per year for 2 years which it claims is totally unreasonable. With respect to the wage increase issue, the Arbitrator concluded the Union’s salary offer is more reasonable than the City’s based upon external comparability data, and the goal of making Milwaukee firefighters “number one” among Wisconsin firefighters is salary and total compensation. The Arbitrator gave little weight to internal comparables because comparability data covering Milwaukee police officers was not available (not settled) and historically there are few examples of linkage between firefighters and general City employes.
Regarding the pension issue, the Arbitrator found this issue of significant importance as argued by the Union because firefighters are not covered by Social Security while general City employes are and because the City’s pension plan does not presently provide the regular type of pension enhancement offered by the clear management of other public employment retirement systems, including the Wisconsin Retirement System which covers all other Wisconsin firefighters. The Arbitrator was not convinced of the City’s cost figures ranging from 12.66% (1994) to 18.27% (1994), but was convinced by the Union’s expert that generally accepted accounting principles does not require the City’s costing approaches. Instead, the expert testified that the Union’s present proposal represents an annual cost of 3.14% on a “pay as you go” basis, according to the method set forth in the City Charter. The Arbitrator concluded in favor of the Union on this issue when considered in the context of 1) spreading its cost in a “pay as you go” basis; 2) the Union’s offer required employe contributions of 1% of payroll in 1993 and 2% of payroll in 1994; and 3) the City’s pension systems current “well-funded” status.
With respect to the Duty Disability issue, the Arbitrator was persuaded by the Union’s serious challenges as to the reasonableness of the City’s proposal since it was based upon actuarial assumptions instead of actual experience data. Because of this, the Arbitrator found the Union’s proposal more reasonable.