Barre Town EMS' Denial of Swaps Violates Contract, Rules Neutral Arbitrator

August 02, 2018

Employers should educate employees about changes in policies or practices, especially those policies that allow employers to exercise discretion. That's the standard principle cited by a neutral arbitrator in ruling that the Town of Barre, VT violated its collective bargaining agreement covering Emergency Medical Services employees. Attorneys Leah Barrault and Mark Macchi successfully represented Local 3702, IAFF, AFL-CIO/CLC, which is a member of Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont.

For years, the Town EMS department allowed employees to swap shifts freely. While the collective bargaining agreement made such swaps subject to discretion of the director, the director rarely exercised such discretion. The Director decided however to apply new criteria to swap requests, without informing employees or the union of this change. As a result, the neutral arbitrator ruled that the Town violated the CBA by effectively applying new terms retroactively. The Arbitrator expressly allowed the Town, going forward, to establish and use different criteria for swap requests. The Arbitrator ordered the Employer to make the grievant whole, by restoring vacation leave he was forced to use after his swap was denied.