BEFORE THE ARBITRATOR
In the Matter of the Arbitration of a Dispute Between
GRAND CHUTE LOCAL, WISCONSIN PROFESSIONAL
ASSOCIATION/LAW ENFORCEMENT EMPLOYEE RELATIONS DIVISION
TOWN OF GRAND CHUTE
Mr. Mark R. Hollinger, Attorney at Law, Wisconsin
Professional Police Association/LEER Division, appearing on behalf of the Union.
Herrling, Clark, Hartzheim and Siddall, Ltd., by Attorney Charles D.
Koehler, appearing on behalf of the Town.
Grand Chute Local, Wisconsin Professional Police Association/Law Enforcement
Relations Division, herein the Association, requested the Wisconsin Employment Relations
Commission to designate a member of its staff as an arbitrator to hear and to decide a
between the parties. The Town of Grand Chute, herein the Town, concurred with said
the undersigned was designated as the arbitrator. Hearing was held in Grand Chute,
April 12, 2000. There was no stenographic transcript made of the hearing. The parties
the filing of post-hearing briefs on May 26, 2000.
The parties stipulated to the following issue:
Did the Employer, i.e., the Town, violate the collective
bargaining agreement by crediting
each employe's sick leave bank with one day per month at the end of each month, rather
than at the
beginning of each month?
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The parties further stipulated that if the contract was violated, then the grievant,
Eyestone, is owed 8½ hours of sick leave pay and other employes will be credited with
a day of sick
leave on the first day of each month beginning with February of 1999.
At the end of December of 1998, Eyestone had a balance of 3 hours of accumulated
leave. On January 22, 1999, Eyestone was off work on sick leave. He was paid for 3 hours
not paid for the remaining 5½ hours of his scheduled shift on January 22. On February
Eyestone was off work on sick leave. He was paid for 7½ hours and was not paid for
1 hour of his scheduled shift on February 5. On March 6, 1999, Eyestone was off work on
He was paid for all 8½ hours of his scheduled shift. On March 8, 1999 Eyestone was
off work on
sick leave. He was paid for 1 hour and was not paid for the remaining 7½ hours of his
on March 8.
On February 16, 1999, Eyestone filed a grievance wherein he requested paid sick
the 5½ hours of his shift on January 22 for which he was not paid on the basis that sick
be credited on the first day of each month. The Town denied the grievance on the basis that
leave is earned at the end of the month, rather than at the beginning of the month.
Under the 1994-96 contract between the Town and the Association, each full-time
was credited with 12 days of sick leave on January 1 of each year.
Section 18.01: Full-time employees shall be
entitled to annual sick leave of twelve (12)
days with pay.
Section 18.01: Full-time employees shall be
entitled to accumulate sick leave at one (1)
day per month.
POSITION OF THE
The contract neither defines the word accumulate nor indicates the
point in time when the day
of sick leave is accumulated. It is clear that the parties had no mutual understanding of
the time of the month when sick leave is credited to an employe's account. The parties
agreement that, under the prior contract, the employes accumulated their 12 days of sick
leave at the
beginning of the year. Thus, it has been the past practice to credit sick leave to the employe
beginning of the contractually designated period for sick leave accumulation.
The Town proposed to change Section 18.01 during the negotiations for the 1997-98
contract. Therefore, any ambiguity should be construed against the Town. Further, the
interpretation of the language creates a forfeiture and should be avoided.
POSITION OF THE TOWN
The Town argues that the word accumulate means that some time has
to pass before the one
day of sick leave is accumulated and that period of time is one month. The concept of
a day per month is inconsistent with the theory that the first day of each month could be used
as a sick
Under the standards of contract construction, all words should be given their plain
Any ambiguity in the language should be construed against the drafter. The contested
drafted by the Association. All parties acknowledged that the Town's objective was to bring
leave policy in line with the policy for the rest of the Town's employes, essentially meaning
month had to go by before a sick leave day was accumulated, or, in other words
earned. The two
words, accumulated and earned, are the same for all practical purposes because they both
time component of one complete month and the concept of acquiring this right on a period of
basis. The contract clearly states that period of time to be one month.
There is no dispute over the fact that the Town proposed to change the language in
18.01 so that employes would be entitled to accumulate sick leave at the rate of one day per
rather than being credited with twelve days of sick leave at the beginning of each calendar
that the parties agreed to the accumulation of one day per month. The dispute is over
parties agreed the one day of sick leave would be credited to an employe's account at the
of each month or at the end of each month. The contested language is clearly ambiguous,
could support either interpretation. Therefore, it is necessary to look beyond the language to
During the negotiations for the 1997-98 contract, the Town proposed that the sick
policy be changed to provide that each full-time employe would earn one day of paid sick
leave at the
end of each month worked by the employe, which would be the same as the Town's policy
rest of its employes. Although a copy of said policy was not entered as evidence
at the hearing, there was no testimony or evidence to contradict the testimony of the
witnesses concerning the terms of the policy. Scott Steinke, a member of the Association's
negotiating team during those negotiations, testified that the Town told the Association that it
to apply the same policy to the police officers as was applied to the other Town employes.
further testified that the Association never agreed to the Town's position and, instead, the
agreed that one day of sick leave would be credited to an employe's account at the beginning
month, as the Association requested, and that the Association ratified said contract based
belief. Thus, according to Steinke, the Town got the change to a day per month, but at the
of the month rather than at the end of the month as initially sought by the Town. However,
members of the Town's team during those negotiations testified that the Association's team
stated such a belief during said negotiations. Therefore, the Town believed that the
agreed to the Town's interpretation of the revised Section 18.01 and to its intent to have the
officers accumulate sick leave in the same manner as the other employes of the Town
sick leave. Steinke initially testified that the Association agreed to the Town's proposed
for a revised Section 18.01 without changing the language therein. However, Steinke
testified that, while the Town had proposed the change in Section 18.01, another Association
representative had drafted the tentative agreements, including Section 18.01, which were
in the 1997-98 contract, and Steinke was not sure that Section 18.01, as drafted, then read
as the Town's proposal. The Town's negotiator testified that he did not propose any specific
language for a revised Section 18.01, but merely stated the intent of the change and that the
Association representative then drafted the specific language.
The undersigned is persuaded that the Town did not agree to credit a day of sick
leave to each
employe at the beginning of each month. Rather, it is concluded the Town made clear to the
Association its intent that each employe would be credited with a day of sick leave at the
of each month, but that the Association never told the Town that it would not agree to such a
leave policy unless the day was credited at the beginning of the month rather than at the end
month. Similarly, there is no evidence to show that the Association ever advised the Town
wording of Section 18.01, which the Association representative drafted, would fail to result
same policy as governed the other employes of the Town. If the Association had intended
new Section 18.01 would credit the sick leave at the beginning of each month, then it should
made that intent clear to the Town. By failing to do so, the Association can't now
contend that it believed the Town had agreed to credit the sick day at the beginning of each
Based on the foregoing, the undersigned enters the following
That the Town did not violate the collective bargaining agreement by crediting each
sick leave bank with one day per month at the end of the month, rather than at the beginning
month; and, that the grievance is denied and dismissed.
Dated at Madison, Wisconsin, this 26th day of June, 2000.
Douglas V. Knudson, Arbitrator