As the result of a successful grievance arbitration, the members of the Madison Professional Police Officers’ Association (MPPOA) will be fairly paid for the extra hours they put in to supervise and contain the annual Mifflin Street Block Party and Halloween celebration.
Madison Police Department’s patrol officers, like many across the state, work a “6-on 3-off” color coded schedule as negotiated in their collective bargaining agreement with the City. Despite this agreed-upon schedule, management decided to unilaterally move many patrol officers’ Regular Day Off (RDO) from a day coinciding with these festivities to a random day in the future of management’s choice. Management believed that these were not instances where overtime needed to be paid.
The MPPOA respectfully disagreed, and WPPA Staff Attorney Andrew Schauer represented the Association in the arbitration hearing on this matter in December, 2007. Issued on July 7, 2008, the arbitration decision sided with the MPPOA and awarded numerous officers four hours of pay (the difference between 8 hours of pay at straight time and 8 hours of pay at time-and-one-half). As a result of this arbitration, this will also be the rule going forward.
The City argued that the language in the collective bargaining agreement that allowed the employer to pay employees straight time when it moves their work shift also applied to these situations. The arbitrator properly concluded that “the word ‘shift’ refers to the time of day when the employee works – such as first, second or third shift – on their regular work day.” Because management here was moving their entire work day, not just their shift, the language the City was relying on to pay the patrol officers at straight time did not apply, and back pay was awarded accordingly.
The City attempted to argue that this result would affect their ability to call in patrol officers for these times when more staff is needed. The arbitrator saw through that rouse as well. None of our members (in Madison or across the state) ever have a problem with working hours when properly ordered in to do so, and will fulfill their responsibility to protect and serve the public as needed. However, while most workers in other professions work a traditional Monday through Friday schedule with weekends off, many employees in the public safety profession incorporate their family and recreational times around their unique work rotations. This victorious ruling stands for the ideal that, if management decides to stray from an agreed-upon framework with respect to schedules, they should pay the overtime pay rates accordingly.
The moral of the story for other locals across the state is to hold management’s feet to the fire with regard to overtime provisions and not acquiesce when management tries to move days off (without proper overtime compensation) when your contract provides for a set schedule. Every contract is different—they are all the products of years of collective bargaining with management to create the best possible working environment for our members. If you feel that your overtime or work schedule provisions are being ignored by your managers, call your business agent so that we may review your contract in conjunction with the specific actions taken by management in order to assess the appropriate response to resolve the situation.