Q & A

Written on 01/05/2024

From Florida:
Question: We currently do not have our promotional process in our collective bargaining agreement. The process is outlined in the general orders of the police department. The administration attempted to change the process at which time I advised them that I was filing a demand to impact bargaining. The administration then recanted any changes and kept the same process in place. The city attorney took the position that since we are not changing anything, no reason to go to impact bargain­ing. We have collective bargaining negotiations beginning next year and I wanted to ask you if that whether they change the process or not, is the promotional process a mandatory subject of bargaining even without them changing the process?

Answer: The general rule is that if a topic is mandatory for bargaining or has negotiable impacts, it can be raised in bargaining even though there is no change in past practice. In the situation you describe, it sounds like the employer agrees that there are negotiable impacts to the promotional process. While the decision to withdraw the changed rules eliminated the obligation to bargain over the change, either party could submit proposals on the negotiable impacts in the next negotiations.

From Michigan:
Question: Our city has recently voted to eliminate our Police Dispatch Center and contract with our local County Metro Dispatch. In doing so the city plans to eliminate four full time dispatch jobs. These four positions are currently union and covered by Michigan PA 312. Once our center is elim­inated the City plans to create one new front desk position as a non-union position. The job description for the new position is about 90% the same as the job description for the current dispatchers that will be eliminated.

Is this a violation of PERA or other labor laws? Eliminating a union position then creating a position that is nearly the same but non union?

Answer: Generally, a public employer will be required to bargain with a union over the proposed transfer of worked performed by bargaining unit members to other employees or outside contractors. Unilateral changes along the lines you described are typically challenged via the filing of an unfair practice charge or a grievance. In a Michigan arbitration award reported by Public Safety Labor News in 2021, a labor arbitrator described the importance of this principle as follows: “If the Union can’t protect itself and its right to bargaining unit work, then its very existence and usefulness is necessarily called into question.” Grand Rapids Police Officers Association (PSLN July 2021). [Note: LRIS Premium subscribers have full access to our database of PSLN articles.] We suggest that you consult with your local solicitor and develop a plan to assert your bar­gaining rights related to the proposed change.

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