BEFORE THE ARBITRATOR
In the Matter of the Arbitration of a Dispute Between
LINCOLN COUNTY HIGHWAY EMPOYEES,
AFSCME, LOCAL 332
Mr. Philip Salamone, Staff Representative, Wisconsin Council
40, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, appearing on behalf of the Union.
Mr. John Mulder, Administrative Coordinator, Lincoln County,
appearing on behalf of the County.
Lincoln County Highway Employees, AFSCME, Local 332, herein the Union,
Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission to designate a member of its staff as an
hear and to decide a dispute between the parties. Lincoln County, herein the County,
said request and the undersigned was designated as the arbitrator. Hearing was held in
Wisconsin, on July 12, 1999. No transcript was made of the hearing. Post-hearing briefs
exchanged on September 8, 1999.
The Union framed the issues as follows:
Did the County violate the intent of the parties when they
entered into the 1996 consent
award when they refused to continue reimbursing employes the $10 office visit co-pay when
reached the out of pocket maximum? If so, what is the appropriate remedy?
The County framed the issues as follows:
Did the County violate the collective
bargaining agreement when it refused to reimburse
employes for the $10 co-pay after the employes had reached the out of pocket maximums
December 31, 1997? If so, what is the appropriate remedy?
The parties stipulated that the undersigned would frame the
issues in his award. The
undersigned believes the County's statement of the issues to be an accurate statement of the
The current collective bargaining contract between the parties covers the period of
1, 1998 through December 31, 1999. The prior contract between the parties covered the
years of 1995, 1996 and 1997. Said contract was reached during an interest-arbitration
when the parties agreed to a consent award. The County prepared a draft of the consent
which draft was sent to the Union on March 15, 1996, and to the arbitrator on March 22,
draft included the following provisions:
A. All previously agreed-upon tentative agreements between
Lincoln County and Lincoln County
Highway Employees Local Union 332 are incorporated into the successor Labor Agreement
calendar years 1995, 1996 and 1997 (see attached Exhibit A).
B. The Arbitrator orders that the following
language, as it relates to Article XXIII-Insurance, be
incorporated into the Labor Agreement between the parties, which provides for the
of a Preferred Provider Option for health care benefits, a Prescription Drug Card Benefit, an
in deductibles to a $200 per person, with 3 per family per year, and a family maximum of
the implementation of a pre-certification program with a $150 penalty for noncompliance.
C. The Arbitrator orders that for the term
of the successor Labor Agreement (through December
31, 1997), bargaining unit employees who have satisfied the $600 single maximum and the
family maximum payment for medical services and expenses, shall be entitled to
the County of the $10 preferred provider co-pay payment required of employees for doctor
under the terms of the Preferred Provider Option. This
reimbursement will be made by the
County based upon documentation (Explanation of Benefits forms from Administrator)
the employee, showing that the employee has satisfied the single or family maximum. The
shall also provide the County with receipts documenting any payments made under the
Provider Option co-pay requirements after satisfying the single and family maximum
the health care benefits.
The Union proposed that the draft be modified by deleting the phrase "(through
31, 1997)" in paragraph C.
On March 25, 1996, the County sent a revised proposed Consent Award to the
a copy of same to the Union. Said draft deleted the phrase "(through December 31,
paragraph C. On March 28, 1996, the arbitrator issued the Consent Award, which award
the wording contained in the draft sent by the County on March 25, 1996.
On April 17, 1998, the Union filed a grievance over the County's failure, after
1997, to reimburse employes for the $10 co-pay after the employes had reached the out of
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
The Union argues that the deletion of the expiration date, i.e., December 31, 1997,
intended to mean the benefit was to be continued under the current contract. If such an
not the intent, then there would have been no point in making the deletion. The contract
interpreted broadly so as to reflect the intent of the parties and to give meaning to their
focus should seek to determine the parties' intent rather than rely on a narrow interpretation
language. The clear intent of the parties in this matter was to continue the co-pay
successive contracts until it was eliminated by negotiations. The grievance should be
The County contends that there is no language in the contract dealing specifically
issue presented by the grievance. Neither is there any relevant past practice. Thus, the
should look to the language of the Consent Award. The phrase "for the term of the
Agreement" limits the benefit to the time span of the successor contract, even without the
"(through December 31, 1997)." When that successor contract expired on December 31,
employes were no longer eligible for the benefit. While the Union argues that such a result
its intent, the Union never voiced a different intent to either the arbitrator or the County until
grievance was filed in April of 1998. The County never agreed with the intent expressed by
Union in that grievance.
A. Group Coverage: All
regular full-time employees shall be eligible for the County's group
hospitalization-surgical care insurance plan. The County shall pay 100% of the single
premium and family monthly premium for the health insurance plan, with deductible
provisions of one
hundred dollars ($100) per person per year (maximum of three (3) per family per year).
January 1, 1996, the deductible amount, payable by the employee, shall be two
hundred dollars ($200)
per person per calendar year (maximum of three (3) per family per year with six hundred
($600) maximum single per year and one thousand dollars ($1,000) maximum per family per
B. Carrier: The present
medical and hospitalization benefits will be maintained until there is a
negotiated change, but the County may from time to time change the insurance carrier or
if it elects to do so. The County agrees to notify the Union before any such change is
and the terms of the proposed change.
. . .
Section A of the Consent Award specifies that the successor labor agreement covers
calendar years of 1995, 1996 and 1997. The deletion of the phrase "(through December 31,
in the revised Consent Award did not alter the time period covered by the successor contract
specified in the Consent Award. Therefore, the clear language of paragraph C of the
must be interpreted to apply only to the contract covering the calendar years of 1995, 1996
which contract expired on December 31, 1997.
The Union argues that it is important to consider the inclusion and exclusion of
in the agreement and that the exclusion of the phrase "(through December 31, 1997)" from
draft of the Consent Award should be found to mean the parties intended to have the co-pay
reimbursement continue until the parties negotiated an end to the reimbursement, rather than
the reimbursement to the 1995-1997 contract. However, since Section C of the Consent
not included in the contract, it is concluded that the revised Consent Award did not establish
intent of the parties to have the co-pay reimbursement continue after December 31, 1997.
conclusion is supported by the fact that, while Section B of the Consent Award specifies the
in Section B is to be incorporated into
the contract, there is no similar language in Section C of the Consent Award. Further,
since the order
directing the County to continue the co-pay reimbursement was not placed in the contract, it
reasonable for the Union to think that such reimbursement would continue automatically
contract succeeding the 1995-1997 contract. Even if the Union believed that the intent of the
language of the Consent Award was to continue the benefit until the benefit was bargained
out of a
contract, there is nothing in the record to show that the County either intended, or agreed to,
same result. Rather, the County asserts it believed the intent of the language was that the
would expire at the end of the 1995-1997 contract. In the absence of evidence showing a
intent to continue the co-pay reimbursement after December 31, 1997, there is no basis to
clear language of paragraph C of the Consent Award and to require a continuation of the
reimbursement after said date.
The Union argues that the jurisdiction of the interest arbitrator was limited to the
1995-1997 contract and, therefore, the arbitrator had no authority to extend the co-pay
reimbursement beyond December 31, 1997, which was the expiration date of the successor
Said argument ignores the fact that in paragraph B of the Consent Award the arbitrator did
a change in the contract without limiting the change to the term of the 1995-1997 contract.
Based on the foregoing and the evidence as a whole, the undersigned enters the
That the County did not violate the collective bargaining agreement when, after
31, 1997, it refused to reimburse employes for the $10 co-pay after the employes had
reached the out
of pocket maximums; and, that the grievance is denied and dismissed.
Dated at Madison, Wisconsin, this 6th day of December, 1999.
Douglas V. Knudson, Arbitrator