Arbitrator Upholds Past Practice of Education and Longevity Payouts For Randolph Fire Department Retirees

April 05, 2018

On April 6, 2018, an arbitrator sustained the grievance of IAFF, Local 1268 and held that the Town of Randolph violated the Fire Fighters' contract when it upended a decades-old practice of paying out a full year's worth of longevity and educational incentives to retiring firefighters. Pyle Rome attorney Al Gordon O'Connell represented the Fire Union and won the case at arbitration.

The evidence established that the Town has paid out these benefits upon retirement for many decades but that the Town unilaterally stopped the practice in 2017 with no notice to the Union. While the contract is silent as to the retirement incentives, the arbitrator relied on the strong past practice clause that protects "all job benefits and privileges heretofore permitted by law or regulation and enjoyed by employees, which are not specifically provided for or abridged in this Agreement." This type of past practice clause has been held to lock in place any benefits that existed at the beginning of the contract period, and the arbitrator held that the benefits to retirees were protected by this language.

As a remedy, the arbitrator ordered that the affected retiree receive more than $6600 in unpaid longevity and educational benefits and that the Town notify the retirement board to increase the member's reported earnings for his last three years of employment and thus increase his retirement benefits.

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