LAW ENFORCEMENT ARBITRATOR ROSTER





Arbitrator Gavel Scale

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.

How to Apply

PERC is now accepting applications for appointment to the roster with consideration by the Commission at its August 11, 2021, meeting. Individuals wishing to be considered for appointment should submit to info@perc.wa.gov by August 3, 2021, a letter of interest and résumé explaining how they meet the statutory qualifications along with any other materials they wish the Commission to consider.

Qualifications

The Commission may only appoint to the roster persons who have a minimum of six years’ experience as

  • a full-time labor relations advocate who has been the principal representative for either labor or management in at least 10 arbitration proceedings,
  • a full-time labor mediator 
  • an arbitrator who has decided at least 10 collective bargaining disputes, or
  • a practitioner or full-time instructor of labor law or industrial relations.
  • The Commission must also, as applicable, consider the following in making appointments to the roster: 

  • A candidate’s familiarity, experience, and technical and theoretical understanding of and experience with labor law, the grievance process, and the field of labor arbitration;
  • A candidate’s ability and willingness to travel through the state, conduct hearings in a fair and impartial manner, analyze and evaluate testimony and exhibits, write clear and concise awards in a timely manner, and be available for hearings within a reasonable time after the request of the parties; 
  • A candidate’s experience and training in cultural competency, racism, implicit bias, and recognizing and valuing community diversity and cultural differences; and
  • A candidate’s familiarity and experience with the law enforcement profession, including ride alongs with on-duty officers, participation in a citizen’s academy conducted by a law enforcement agency, or other activities that provide exposure to the environments, choices, and judgments required by officers in the field.
  • 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:

  • Six hours on the topics of cultural competency, racism, implicit bias, and recognizing and valuing community diversity and cultural differences; and
  • Six hours on topics related to the daily experience of law enforcement officers, which may include
    • 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.

  • First, the arbitrator selection provisions apply to all law enforcement personnel disciplinary grievance arbitrations that are heard on or after January 1, 2022.
  • The grievance arbitration provisions for all collective bargaining agreements covering law enforcement personnel that are negotiated or renewed on or after January 1, 2022, must include the arbitrator selection procedure set forth in this legislation. 
  • The grievance arbitration provisions of collective bargaining agreements negotiated or renewed before January 1, 2022, that do not contain the arbitrator selection procedures of this legislation expire upon the expiration date of the collective bargaining agreement and may not be extended or rolled over beyond the expiration date of the agreement.
  • With respect to reopeners, expired contracts, or renegotiations, the legislation states, "This section does not require any party to a collective bargaining agreement in existence on the effective date of this section to reopen negotiations of the agreement or to apply any of the rights and responsibilities under this act unless and until the existing agreement is reopened or renegotiated by the parties or expires." Laws of 2021, ch. 13, § 1(2)(c).

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