LAW ENFORCEMENT ARBITRATOR ROSTER
Senate Bill 5055, Laws of 2021, ch. 13, was passed during this last legislative session and signed into law by Governor Inslee. The new legislation addresses the arbitration of law enforcement personnel disciplinary grievances and, specifically, who can arbitrate such grievances and how those arbitrators must be selected or appointed to a dispute. The law requires the Commission to create a roster of 9 to 18 arbitrators to arbitrate disciplinary grievances of law enforcement personnel.
Check the PERC Announcements page for updates. To see the bill, its definitions, and effective dates, click here.
The Commission is no longer accepting applications for appointment to the roster and will only consider the applications that were received by August 3, 2021. The Commission has requested that applicants submit letters of recommendation from a neutral, a labor representative, and a management representative, just as required for applicants to PERC’s Dispute Resolution Panel under WAC 391-55-110(2). Roster applicants who are members of the Dispute Resolution Panel do not need to submit letters since they have previously done so.
At its meeting on September 14, the Commission will decide upon any additional considerations or processes it wants to use in evaluating the applications and making appointments to the roster. The Commission also plans to conduct evaluations and hopefully make appointments at the same meeting.
The Commission may only appoint to the roster persons who have a minimum of six years’ experience as
The Commission must also, as applicable, consider the following in making appointments to the roster:
Term of Appointments and Effective Dates
Appointments to the roster are effective upon selection by the Commission and generally last three years, expiring on the first Monday in January. Individuals may be reappointed by the Commission, and there is no limit on the number of terms an individual may serve. The Commission may remove individuals from the roster by a majority vote.
Initial appointments by the Commission vary somewhat, with three appointments expiring on the first Monday in January 2024, three appointments expiring on the first Monday in January 2025, and three appointments expiring on the first Monday in January 2026. These initial appointments may last longer than three years.
Fees and Costs
The Commission establishes the fee schedule for arbitrations conducted under this legislation. The Commission sets the fee schedule on an annual basis. The parties are responsible for paying the arbitrator’s fees as set forth in the parties’ collective bargaining agreement. In the absence of any provisions in a collective bargaining agreement, the fees and costs must be borne equally by the parties.
The Commission may establish fees in order to cover the costs of developing and providing the required training to arbitrators.
At its meeting on July 13, 2021, the Commission set the fee schedule as follows:
Per Diem: $1,750 – applied to travel to and from the hearing location, hearing, research, study, and preparation of the award.
Cancellation Fee: No cancellation fee if cancelled more than 30 days before scheduled hearing date. $1,000 per scheduled day of hearing if cancelled within 30 days but more than 15 days of the scheduled hearing date. $1,750 per scheduled day of hearing if cancelled within 15 days of the scheduled hearing date.
Travel & Other Costs: Airfare, lodging, meals, parking, copying, and mailing as incurred. Automobile mileage to be reimbursed at the IRS rate.
Training Requirements for Individuals Appointed to the Roster
Within six months of appointment to the roster, individuals must complete training developed, implemented, and required by the Executive Director. The training must include at least the following:
- ride-alongs with on-duty officers,
- participation in citizens’ academies conducted by a law enforcement agency,
- shoot/don’t shoot training provided by a law enforcement agency, or
- other activities that provide exposure to the environments, choices, and judgments required of officers in the field.
We are developing training protocols with the goal to make the training available no later than February 2022. Currently, we expect that arbitrators appointed to the roster will pay the training providers directly for the cost of the training.
Grievance Arbitrations Subject to the Roster
All arbitrators of law enforcement personnel disciplinary grievances must come from the roster of arbitrators. Section 1(1)(b) of the law defines law enforcement personnel as
(i) . . .
(A) Any individual employed, hired, or otherwise commissioned to enforce criminal laws by any municipal, county, or state agency or department, or combination thereof, that has, as its primary function, the enforcement of criminal laws in general, rather than the implementation or enforcement of laws related to specialized subject matter areas. For the purposes of this subsection (1)(b), officers employed, hired, or otherwise commissioned by the department of fish and wildlife are considered law enforcement personnel.
(B) Corrections officers and community corrections officers employed by the department of corrections.
(ii) “Law enforcement personnel” does not include any individual hired as an attorney to prosecute or litigate state or local criminal laws or ordinances, nor any civilian individuals hired to do administrative work.
A disciplinary grievance is defined as “a dispute or disagreement regarding any disciplinary action, discharge, or termination decision arising under a collective bargaining agreement covering law enforcement personnel.”
Appointment of Arbitrator to a Case
The appointment of the arbitrator must be made by the Executive Director on rotation through the roster alphabetically by last name. If the appointed arbitrator is unable to hear the case within three months from the request for an arbitrator, the Executive Director appoints the next arbitrator from the roster alphabetically.
Arbitrators must disclose to the Executive Director any conflict of interest that may reasonably be expected to materially impact the arbitrator’s impartiality. The Executive Director may determine whether the conflict merits assigning the next arbitrator on the roster. Either party may also petition the Executive Director to have an assigned arbitrator removed due to a conflict of interest that may reasonably be expected to materially impact the arbitrator’s impartiality. If the petition is granted, the Executive Director assigns the next arbitrator on the roster.
The parties may not participate in, negotiate for, or agree to the selection of the arbitrator. Parties may not negotiate collective bargaining agreement provisions that are inconsistent with this legislation.
Posting of Arbitration Decisions
The agency must post on its website law enforcement grievance arbitration decisions made under this legislation within 30 days of the decision. The names of the grievant and witnesses are to be redacted.
When Will the New Processes Take Effect?
The new legislation becomes effective on July 25, 2021. It has several time frames within.