Staff Officers of I.A.F.F. Local No. 106
Arbitrator: Val D. Spangler
Arbitrator: Spangler; Val D.
Case #: 03430-I-81-00081
In the matter of interest arbitration between Staff Officers of I.A.F.F Local
Case. no. 3430-I-81-81. Arbitrator, Val D. Spangler.
Employment Relations Commission seeking clarification of an existing bargaining
unit. Substantial delay occurred in the processing of the case while the par-
ties awaited rulings on similar issues on other cases then pending before the
Commission. The City made a request to proceed on May 3, 1978. A hearing was
by a P.E.R.C hearing officer on
post-hearing briefs, the last of which was received by the hearing officer on
The order clarified the existing bargaining unit of "all regular full time
employees of the
the Assistant Chief" "to exclude the Battalion Chiefs) the Fire Marshall and
Medical Services Officer in addition to the previous exclusion of the Fire Chief
Assistant Chief." That order was
This bargaining unit of Staff Officers of I.A.F.F. Local #106 was formed
in 1980. Present positions in the bargaining unit include 3 Battalion Chiefs,
one Fire Marshall, one Medical Services Officer and one Chief Training Officer.
Negotiations for this contract commenced
ations sessions were held through
Additional efforts were made to settle but were not successful. The parties
were declared to be at impasse and were directed to proceed with interest arbi-
tration in a letter of
The parties agreed to submit the remaining issues in dispute to this single
arbitrator. A hearing was held on June 24 and
hours. The hearing was formally closed by operation of the arbitrator's receipt
1981, accepting the
Elimination. This issue had remained unsettled because of the parties' desire
to obtain legal opinions on the jurisdictional matter raised by the arbitrator
at the hearing regarding this issue.
1 . Purpose
2. Union membership
3. No strike
4. Prevailing rights
5. Management rights
6. Position elimination
7. Bereavement leave
8. Hours of work
11. Union management relations
13. Educational incentive
III. Positions of the Parties:
Purpose. Agreement reached by the parties at the hearing.
Union membership. The
to allow non-members of the
and all collective bargaining matters (but not internal Union functions)."
for dues deduction also is requested. The gist of the
argument for this clause was that of "past practice." The contention being
that these employees had the right and protection when members of the
regular firefighters' unit and should not lose that right because of the
clarification of that unit. Comparison to the conditions of employment in
other cities and counties was not made.
The City bases its firm opposition to the institution of compulsory
union membership or compulsory service charges in lieu thereof for several
reasons but particularly because of the management nature of this group and
the fact that five out of six members of the bargaining unit already have
dues deductions operating. The City indicates, "where mandatory membership
exists in labor agreements in comparable cities, such provisions have been
included by mutual agreement of the parties," not by interest arbitration.
The vast majority of management personnel in fire departments in comparable
cities have no obligations for involvement in union membership whatsoever.
No strike. Agreement reached by the parties just prior to the hearing.
Prevailing rights. The
broad protection for the employee as possible while respecting the
need for a simple agreement that is "management oriented." This language
was available in the previous bargaining unit agreement and the Union feels
the employees have been hurt in the two years they have been without cov-
erage by a collective bargaining agreement. The Union wants "at least the
same protections as the employees they supervise."
The City's position is basically two-fold. First, the ambiguity and
uncertainty created by such a clause threatens to destabilize the Agree-
ment and the Union-City relationship. Second, the clause is inconsistent
with the statutory framework for bargaining in that it discourages good
faith bargaining efforts of the parties to achieve a definitive and
Management rights. The City proposes its detailed and strong manage-
ment rights clause as being consistent with sound labor-management rela-
tions, contributing to full and mutual understanding as an appropriate
quid pro quo for rights agreed to by the City and not inconsistent with the
clauses in comparable cities.
and particularly not one that is so strong. The city's position is viewed
as impugning the integrity of the employees of the unit who consider them-
selves to be a part of management and not susceptible to the conflict of
interest problems the City views as inherent in having supervisory employees
represented by the same exclusive bargaining representative as that of the
employees they supervise.
Position Elimination. Proposed article withdrawn by
Bereavement leave. Agreed to by the parties just prior to the hearing.
Hours of work. Agreed to by the parties just prior to the hearing.
worked in excess of normal hours on the basis of two thousand eighty hours
per year for all employees in the unit. Employees shall have a choice
of receiving a cash compensation or compensatory time. Although not clearly
by the language of its proposal the
time pay to be applied to emergency call back not regular (e.g., staff
type duties in excess of 40 hours per week.
stated its belief that the benefits available to the staff officers should
be no less than that of the employees they supervise.
The City presented its position as being a package proposal including
its offers on both overtime and vacation. Unless the City's offer regard-
ing improved overtime pay is coupled with a change in the vacation benefits
available to Battalion Chiefs, the City's position is that there can be no
change in either. The City indicates strong opposition to the idea of the
Battalion Chiefs having the best of both worlds by getting time and one
half for overtime and staying on the comparatively better exempt employee
vacation plan. Comparability data indicates the position of the City to
be better than all but one of the 12 comparable cities used by the City.
Vacation. As explained in the preceding section on overtime the City
is seeking to modify downward the benefits available to staff officers on
the exempt employee plan if they are to be paid overtime according to the
and be eligible for time and one half for the overtime.
Union management relations. The
appropriate notice, the City pay for the replacement of one of the Battalion
Chiefs for each session of negotiations when that Battalion Chief is work-
mg a 24 hour shift and for no loss of pay for any staff officer attendance
at any of these sessions during his normal working hours. The small number
of people in the unit makes such a release imperative for effective repre-
sentation during negotiations.
The City is not opposed to allowing the time off for negotiations or
other employee relations matters as long as it does not force the City
into an overtime situation.
recognizes an employee's increased worth through time. Because these staff
positions are career positions with limited advancement opportunity within
the system and less without, longevity provides incentive and reward for
service and loyalty to the City. Three
longevity plans for their firefighter bargaining units.
The City considers additional pay solely for endurance to be incon-
sistent with sound management practices in compensation and particularly
the underlying principles of the City's pay-for-performance. Reward for
improved performance is provided for in the City's pay plan. Longevity is
not the practice for staff officers outside rank-and-file units in comparable
cities. It is not provided any other group of managerial employees in the
Educational incentive. Agreed to by the parties during the hearing.
positions within the bargaining unit are of corresponding responsibility and
rank and that they should be distinguished from the positions they super-
vise by a set minimum differential of 6% between the top Captain's pay and
that of the minimum of the staff officers' salary range. Steps increments
are for 6% per year for three years to the "fully competent" level.
Additionally, all appointed to staff positions are to be paid within the
established salary range.
The base figure used by the
top Captain's pay excluding longevity. This aspect of the plan reflects
prime concern of the
pay spread between staff officer (supervisor) and supervisee.
Opposition to the City's salary plan focused on the disagreement with
the relative job values assigned to the positions within the unit, the
failure to acknowledge factors relevant to staff officers but not to other
management positions (e.g., risks to health and safety, requirement of
24 hour "pager" use and unusual hours of work). Concern was also stated
about possible devaluation of job values for pay purposes.
different in size, distribution and rationale from the last one proposed
in mediation. The mediation salary plan had been more a reflection of the
City's proposal and underlying salary plan. The Union hearing proposal
did not differentiate between staff officer position requirements. It
was significantly higher. The plan provided for one year with a reopener
proposed in 1982.
The positions represented by the bargaining unit all share levels of rank
and of corresponding responsibility which distinguish them from the posi-
tions they supervise. Equity within the department salary structure requires
that the salary range for these positions should reflect this.
MINIMUM OF THE
ALL APPOINTEES TO STAFF POSITIONS WILL BE PAID WITHIN THE
Normal development within a staff position will result in the officers'
progressing to a fully competent level in three years.
THAT PROGRESS WILL BE REFLECTED IN ANNUAL SALARY INCREMENTS
OF 6 PER YEAR WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH THE DEPARTMENT'S
ADVANCEMENT STRUCTURE AND IS A REASONABLE SALARY ADJUSTMENT
FOR SATISFACTORILY DEVELOPING PERFORMANCE IN CAREER POSITIONS.
Entry pay upon promotion to a Staff Officer Supervisor & Unit
position will be: $2,425.00
Utilizing a City plan for supervisory approval that the
employee is performing at a fully competent level, the
following salaries are in effect:
After one year of competent performance $2,570.00
After two years of competent performance $2,724.00
After three years of competent performance $2,888.00
The City made many comparisons between its proposed plan (developed
using the Willis Job Evaluation System) and that of the
plan was characterized as a move forward to a rational performance based
system away from the traditional "keep ahead of the employees supervised"
approach. The City relied on the statutory criteria
not. The Union proposal was criticized for making no distinction between
and position holders for pay purposes.
to be adopted it was alleged that it would be likely to lead to more
impasses and interest arbitration. The consideration that was labeled
pivotal by the City was that the City justified its plan through reason
and a well organized presentation reflective of the statutory criteria.
Its proposal was identified as an extension of its good faith bargaining.
tion in mediation, not reflective of good faith bargaining, contrived
for interest arbitration purposes and not well prepared with reference
to the statutory criteria in R.C.W. 41.56.
The City considered its offer substantial with an adjusted (minus
dollar value of job value upgrade) increase in average salary of 15.3%.
The City's offer was compared favorably with fire staff officers salaries
in cities of similar size on the west coast (that average increase being
10.5%). Favorable comparison was made to other managerial and supervisory
employees in the City and to the C.P.I. for the last five years.
1. The City proposes that the 1981 salary plan for fire staff officers
be as set forth below. This is consistent with all other management
personnel in the City.
Range for 1981
Classification Points Min. Mid-Point Max.
Training Officer 442 $1874 2205 2536
Battalion Chief 446 1879 2211 2543
Fire Marshall 446 1879 2211 2543
Medical Service Officer 562 1929 2269 2609
Note: The Training officer range is a newly established range. The
above salary ranges were derived by using the Willis Job Evaluation
b. Staff Officer Salary Placement (monthly salaries).
Salary 1980 ($) (%)
Classification 1981 Salary Inc. Inc. Inc.
Training Officer $2162 $1688 474 28.1
Battalion Chief 2408 2087 321 15.4
Fire Marshall 2348 2087 261 12.5
Medical Service Officer 2276 1958 318 16.2
Note: The increase for the Training Officer includes an 11% job audit
SALARY PLAN (continued)
Both the City and
effective date of
Union response dated
Accordingly, the effective date of the City's proposed 1981 salaries
The placement of the employees in the pay range is based upon merit in
accord with the City's salary administration plan which is applicable to
all professional and managerial employees of the City.
2. Administration of Salary Plan. According to the City's offer, the
pay for the performance plan will be administrered as follows:
a. Promotion. When an employee is promoted to a staff officer unit
position, he/she shall receive a minimum 5% promotional increase
or the minimum of the applicable pay range, whichever is greater.
b. Advancement to Fully Competent Pay. After three years in a posi-
tion in the bargaining unit, the employee shall be compensated at
the fully competent level of pay (mid-point); provided the employee's
performance is fully competent.
3. The City further proposes that effective May 1, 1982, the salary ranges
a. Salary/Range (monthly salaries).
Classification Points Minimum Mid-Point Maxim
Training Officer 442 1986 2337 268
Battalion Chief 446 1992 2344 269
Fire Marshall 446 1992 2211 254
Medical Service Officer 562 2045 2405 276
b. Salary Placement (monthly salaries).
Base 1981 ($) (%)
Classification Salary Inc. Inc. Inc.
Training Officer $2292 2162 130 6.0
Battalion Chief 2552 2408 144 6.0
Fire Marshall 2489 2348 141 6.0
Medical Service Officer 2413 2276 137 6.0
c. Administration of Salary Plan. No change is proposed.
1981, with reopener
policies. The purpose of the reopener is to allow comparison with the wage
and benefits improvement of the regular firefighter unit in the City. The
it Rignts (continued).
While recognizing the need of the City, this arbitrator is not
prepared to go as far in this direction as the City desires--that kind of
a clause should be negotiated. The Management Rights clause of the City
of Everett on page 3 of Employer exhibit no. 5ais a better choice under
Overtime and vacation. In recognition of the significant differences
between Battalion Chiefs and other staff officers, between staff/supervisory
employees and regular, hourly employees, comparability data compiled by the
City favorable to their position and the financial condition of the City,
the package offer of the City for the two proposals on overtime and vacation
Union management relations. Because of the small number of staff
officers available for negotiations (5), the City could be faced with
significant overtime costs due to negotiations. There would be incentive
to maintain a high percentage of staff members on the negotiating team
and to prolong negotiations under the Union proposal. Given this incentive
and the limited resources of the City it appears reasonable to encourage
participation as long as it does not involve additional expenditures of
overtime. Thus, the City's proposal is awarded.
Longevity. Although there is considerable merit to the City's posi-
tion it does not address the points of the Union's arguments and ignores
the potential cost to the City of early retirements and increased turnover
that may result from loss of incentive for continued service. The City
recognized the value of additional experience in firefighting situations in
its arguments concerning overtime and callbacks where Battalion Chiefs
might be more desirable than Captains because of this experience factor.
Without arguing the other merits of the City's pay plan a longevity provi-
sion would recognize the stress factors and community value associated with
the performance of the duties in this unit. However, the Union's proposal
is too generous for the present City financial circumstances. Accordingly,
the longevity pay plan of the City of Bremerton cited by the Union in Union
exhibit no. 14 is awarded.
Wages. The Union substantially modified its position on salary taken
during mediation prior to its interest arbitration presentation. Such a
decision is risky even when the new plan is a sounder, fairer one substanti-
ated with new information, or better organized to justify its substance.
Here, the Union made a dramatic but not well-documented change with little
reference to the specific statutory criteria of R.C.W. 41.56 or other
rationale other than wanting to keep a respectable pay spread between staff
officers and the top paid employees in the rank-and-file unit.
The Union's equating of the positions in the unit for pay purposes
defies reason even if it satisfies internal political needs. There are
significant differences in the responsibilities of the positions, the
salary relevant characteristics of the incumbents and job market factors.
Realizing comparison with other cities is difficult because of the different
positions and conditions present in this unit, little effort was made by
the Union in this regard. The Union's position can be summarized by "the
right to expect a reasonable pay increase through competence, over time"
while "maintaining a proper spread between the unit and subordinates."
The City, on the other hand, presents a well conceived, well documented
plan that is internally defensible and compares well when statutory criteria
are addressed However, this effort is made regarding the first year of the
plan and not duplicated or approached when justifying the second year of the
Union asserts the necessity for staff officers to get as much as the rank-
and-file to prevent supervision problems from arising with the possibly
higher paid subordinates. Such relative changes would also cause internal
unit morale problems.
The City calls for a term of May 1, 1981, through December 31, 1982--
20 months. That amount of time being considered necessary to provide a
"shake-down" of the terms of the new agreement and to promote stability
between the parties. To initiate a reopener on May 1, 1982, or have a one-
year contract would require negotiations to begin immediately after this
arbitration opinion and award. Most comparable cities have two-year contracts.
IV. Discussion and Award:
Union membership. Generally, the agency shop provision is too funda-
mental and sensitive to be placed in a collective bargaining agreement
other than by the direct negotiation and agreement of the parties involved.
In the context of a purely supervisory unit, this general consideration has
even greater validity.
The Union position ignores the considerations underlying the clarifi-
cation of the rank-and-file unit in 1978. The application of the concept
of "past practice" to this issue is also faulty because this is an interest
arbitration for the first collective bargaining agreement between the City
and a new bargaining unit even though the new unit is represented by the
same exclusive bargaining representative affiliate as the original one
was. It is not a grievance arbitration. The agency shop provision is
more a Union interest as an institution need rather than an individual right
transferred from one bargaining unit to another with the employee.
For these reasons, the City's proposal, Article 4--Union Membership,
providing for dues deduction upon employee request and cited as Employer
exhibit no. 3 is awarded.
Prevailing rights. No interest arbitration award should contribute
to instability between the parties or discourage good faith bargaining efforts
of the parties to determine wages, hours and conditions of employment.
Part of the trade-off for an employer when its employees gain collective
bargaining rights is the prospect of greater stability in union-management
relations because of the existence of a known agreement for a set period
of time. A clause such as this would result in the potentially continuous
demand for bargaining over even minor matters of policy change. That was
not the legislative intent behind R.C.W. 41.56. Such a provision, if it is
to be included in a collective bargaining agreement, should be there only
as a result of the negotiations of the parties not an interest arbitrator's
The City's position of no clause is awarded.
Management rights. Generally, the terms of management rights clauses
should be determined by the parties through mutual agreement in negotiations.
While the members of this bargaining unit are considered supervisory and
"management'' by both parties, that status is somewhat clouded by the choice
of the same Union representative as that of the employees they supervise.
The legitimate exercise of this right of choice does have implications in
this context. The concerns of the employer were made very evident during
the hearing and, it appears, during negotiations. Because of this factor
and the implicit threat of conflict of interest, the City's need for such
a clause increases. The City would be remiss in its duties if it did not
protect its ability to respond to possible manifestations of such conflict.
In comparison with the other 4 Washington cities in the comparability
documents, the first year proposal fares well. The average on the top of
the salary range is very close but the City proposed bottom of the range
is significantly lower for each position. The first year plan compares
favorably with the average figures of both the Oregon cities (3) and
California cities (5) used for comparison.
After providing considerable evidence why the last 5 year C.P.I.
figures are overstated by from 19-25%, the City makes a proposal for salary
increases averaging 15.3% (after adjustments for job audit upgrading)
while the average C.P.I. figure provided for the 1976-1981 period is
about 11%. If this 11% is adjusted to accommodate the concerns of the
City's chosen economic experts, the "real" average C.P.I. for the period
ranges from 8.25% to almost 9%.
In contrast, the City, for the second year of the proposal, uses a
6% raise figure with no documentation, no evidence and little explanation.
This 6% figure is considerably less than even the adjusted or real
C.P.I. averages would tend to indicate. Also, no comparison figures were
used to justify these figures.
The substance of the exhibits and testimony and the quality of the
presentations leave little choice but to award the City's proposal for the
first year of the Agreement. For the second year, adjusted C.P.I. figures
and the likelihood of continued double-digit or near-double-digit inflation
warrants an award of an 8% salary increase using the same plan with adjusted
figures and administrative details of Appendix A of Employer Exhibit no. 14
for both years.
Duration. The duration of the contract is recommended to be May 1,
1981, through December 31, 1982.
Salary adjustments are to be awarded effective May 1, 1981, as agreed
to by the parties as a part of the mediation process on April 27, 1981.
Because there was no such agreement concerning any other pay matters, the
award of longevity pay shall be effective as of September 1, 1981.
V. Summary of Award:
1. Union membership. The City's proposal.
2. Prevailing rights. The City's position of no clause.
3. Management rights. The clause of the City of Everett provided in Employer
4/5. Overtime and Vacation. The City's package proposal improving overtime
and modifying vacation.
6. Union management relations. The City's proposal.
7. Longevity. Longevity pay is awarded of 1% after 5 years, 2% after 10
years, 3% after 15 years and 4% after 20 years. Effective September 1, 1981.
8. Wages. First year: The City's proposed plan.
Second year: 8%, using the City's plan adjusted.
9. Duration. The City's proposal of a 20 month agreement, May 1, 1981,
through December 31, 1982.
Dated this 31st day of July, 1981.
For the City: Cabot Dow Val D. Spangler, Arbitrator
For the Union: Stan Snapp