SENA's More-Than-Three-Year Arbitration Winning Streak Against The City Of Boston Continues With Out-Of-Grade Pay Victory

June 23, 2023

On June 23, 2023, a neutral arbitrator handed SENA, Local 9158 another in an unbroken string of arbitration victories going back more than three years. The victory came in a dispute over out-of-grade pay -- a kind of case the Union has not lost in arbitration since at least 2016. Pyle Rome attorney Al Gordon O'Connell prosecuted the case for the Union.

At issue here, as in most of these kinds of cases, was whether the second-in-command supervisor in a City departmental unit was required to be paid out of grade when the higher-level supervisor retired. The City once again tried (and once again failed) to defend its conduct based on the assertion that the new duties the employee was performing were contained within her job description such that she was not entitled to out-of-grade pay even when she took over supervision of the entire unit. The arbitrator rejected that defense, instead adopting the standard that has been applied in the previous cases between the parties and asking whether the employee's duties and responsibilities materially changed and expanded as a result of the other employee's retirement.

Here, the answer was clearly yes. After her boss's retirement, the grievant for the first time had full supervisory authority over the unit, including assigning and directing the workforce, approving leave requests, and coordinating hiring and disciplinary matters, among other responsibilities. The arbitrator thus sustained the Union's grievance and ordered that the City pay the grievant at the higher rate during the entire grievance period and continuing in to the future unless and until the City stopped assigning her those duties.