City of Boston Must Increase Police Detail Rate for Superior Officers, Arbitrator Rules

October 20, 2021

A nearly 40-year dispute about the minimum detail rates applicable to Boston Police Supervisors finally was resolved by a neutral arbitrator. The 1979-1981 collective bargaining agreement between the City of Boston and the Boston Police Superior Officers Federation set forth hourly rates for when outside parties hire police to work details, with different rates for Sergeants, Lieutenants and Captains. The language also stated that the parties could re-negotiate the rates, "[I]n no event will the rate of pay as set forth above be less than the regular hourly rate of the various ranks described." Attorney Patrick Bryant persuaded a neutral arbitrator that the "regular hourly rate" refers to more than just the hourly rate: it refers to the minimum pay received by all officers within the rank with a median length of service.

The City and the Boston Police Superiors Officer Federation had negotiated increases to the detail rates multiple times over the years but they continued to dispute the meaning of "regular hourly rate." The parties last modified the rates in 2015. In 2018, the City refused repeated requests from the Federation to align the detail rate to the "regular hourly rate." Both sides agreed that the interpretation had to be resolved for once and all.

The Arbitrator rejected the City's argument to define the phrase "regular hourly rate" as "straight time" rate. While the phrase does not refer to the top step within the rank, the Arbitrator agreed that the rate should be pegged the officer in the middle. Plus, the rate, as with Fair Labor Standards Act, should include payments common to all officers, such as day shift differential, hazardous duty pay, and holiday pay.

The Arbitrator directed the parties to confer on a remedy and retained jurisdiction for 90 days if the parties could not come to resolution. According to the calculations of Attorney Bryant, the posted detail rates could be as much as $20 less than the "regular hourly rate."


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