An arbitrator exceeded his jurisdiction and authority by effectively rewriting bargained-for wage terms in order to settle grievances over wages by several City of Pittsburgh police officers, the Commonwealth Court ruled in City of Pittsburgh v. Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1, __ A.3d __ (No. 521 C.D. 2014, filed March 12, 2015). The grieving police officers in this case had directed traffic at a sporting event while on duty. The officers filed grievances after they learned they had earned less than off-duty officers hired by a private employer to direct traffic at the same event. The CBA permits this so-called “secondary employment” and specifies the rate of pay. The arbitrator sustained the grievances, holding that it was “inequitable” for off-duty officers to earn more than on-duty officers working the same event, and ordered the City to pay on-duty officers the “secondary employment” rate. The trial court set aside the award, holding that the arbitrator exceeded his authority by issuing an award that disregarded the language of the CBA regarding compensation of on-duty officers.
On review, the Commonwealth Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly applied the narrow certiorari standard of review to find that the arbitrator had exceeded his jurisdiction and powers. Judge Leavitt, writing for the unanimous en banc panel, explained that the arbitrator had jurisdiction to decide a grievance that the wages paid to on-duty officers violated the CBA. The arbitrator did not find that the City violated the CBA, as written. Instead, the arbitrator acted as an interest arbitrator by issuing an award that effectively wrote a new wage term into the CBA raising the pay of on-duty officers. The panel reiterated that the Union was required by Act 111 to collectively bargain with the City over the issue of pay for on-duty officers assigned to events where off-duty officers are also working secondary employment details and then proceed to interest arbitration if necessary.
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