NPH Attorney Kevin Buck, together with NEPBA Local 500 President Keith Sullivan, recently won an Arbitration Decision challenging the addition of promotional testing criteria for certain operational jobs at the jail. Below is a link to Arbitrator Sherri Talmadge’s award.
Quick background – the Sheriff wanted to use the most recent promotional examination to advance members to Sgt. and/or Lt. in both non-operational positions and theSuperintendent Picks. The language in the contract, Kevin argued, clearly stated that the promotional examinations were only to be used for operational positions; hence, If the Sheriff wanted to change it, he had to come to the table to bargain with the NEPBA.
The Sheriff argued that he had the right to make the change under the management rights clause, essentially arguing that the Union had waived the right to negotiate over any change to the use of promotional examinations. The parties agreed to an expedited arbitration process and stipulated to the issues.
The decision was a good win for the union, keeping in place the past practice fought for by the union over time. As always, and particularly with promotions, the employees have a right to know what to expect from the process. This is true for work rules in general, and we see all the time the problems that occur when an employer changes the rules in the middle of the game, or decides all of a sudden to enforce rules that were never before enforced.
A level playing field, where everyone knows what to expect, is not much to ask, and goes a long, long way to solid labor relations.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL DECISION: Middlesex Sheriff’s Office and NEPBA (promotional exam) decision 7-2-12