Arbitrator made correct ruling in city-union dispute
We agree with the arbitrator’s decision in the city-union dispute concerning compensation for city public safety dispatchers.
The city, like any employer, needs to have some leeway in adding duties to staff without automatically increasing salaries. We agree with the fact-finding report that the city did not need to increase compensation for dispatchers because the city added Lindsay dispatch services, but we also understand the union’s need to step up and make its case.
The union, Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3, had claimed that the extra dispatch duties should have meant more pay for the city dispatchers. The cities of Lindsay and Woodlake contracted with the city of Porterville to handle their off-hours and weekend dispatch duties. However, the city of Woodlake eventually backed out of that deal after just a few months, leaving just Lindsay. The agreement has the city covering police and fire calls for the city of Lindsay between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. and on weekends.
In the fact-finding process, the arbitrator ruled the workload added to dispatchers was minimal. The union sought a permanent 5 percent pay increase for the dispatchers.
However, the city did give the dispatchers a 5 percent in pay bonus when they trained part-time dispatchers hired to handle the small increase in calls — on average the city claimed handling Lindsay calls only added two more calls per hour, certainly not a huge burden.
The fact the city paid a bonus for training new part-time dispatchers and that part-time dispatchers were added to handle the extra calls, should be enough to back the city’s claims that no permanent salary increase was warranted.
We do understand the union’s position and its role to work for the betterment of those it represents, but in this case the arbitrator’s ruling appears to be correct.