BEFORE THE ARBITRATOR
In the Matter of the Arbitration of a Dispute Between
ONEIDA COUNTY COURTHOUSE
LOCAL ASSOCIATION NUMBER 159
Mr. Mark Hollinger, Staff Counsel, Wisconsin Professional
Police Association/LEER Division, appearing on behalf of the Union.
Mr. Carey L. Jackson, Personnel Director, Oneida County,
appearing on behalf of the County.
The Union and the Employer named above jointly requested the Wisconsin
Relations Commission to appoint the undersigned as the Arbitrator to resolve the wage
Denice Darges. A hearing was held on January 3, 2001, in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, at
the parties were given the opportunity to present their evidence and arguments. The parties
their positions at the conclusion of the hearing in lieu of filing briefs.
The County asks whether this is a timely grievance under
Article 4 of the collective bargaining
agreement and whether the grievance is arbitrable. The Union asks whether the County
1998-2000 collective bargaining agreement by compensating Denice Darges at the Year 2,
level, effective January 3, 2000, and if so, what is the remedy.
At the hearing, the parties asked the Arbitrator for a bench decision on the timeliness
and the Arbitrator ruled that the grievance missed the 10-day period under Article 4, Section
the collective bargaining agreement. However, the Arbitrator also found that the grievance
constitutes a continuing grievance, because grievances involving benefits or wage rates are
considered to be of a continuing nature, as contract violations remain unremedied each pay
Accordingly, the Arbitrator determined that if there were to be any remedy, it would be
only to the date of the filing of the grievance on June 28, 2000, and not to the date of
2000. Thus, the remaining issues are on the merits of the grievance and whether it is
The Union filed a grievance regarding the placement of Denice Darges on the wage
following her reclassification. Darges was a Secretary III in the Minocqua Planning and
Office and was paid at a Grade 7 in the step called Year 3. Darges was reclassified to a
Specialist, which is a Grade 8 position. The dispute centers on whether she should have
in Year 2 or Year 3.
Darges started working for the County on August 21, 1995, as a Typist I, and took
position of Secretary III in the Minocqua office of the Planning and Zoning Department on
1, 1997. She was doing the functions of the Permit Specialist and had trained another person
position. On May 4, 1999, she requested a reclassification to the Permit Specialist position.
Personnel Director Carey Jackson discussed the reclassification with her at the Minocqua
Darges main concern was that her wages would not go down if she were to be reclassified.
President Art Hilgendorf was also at the meeting with Darges and Jackson. Hilgendorf did
any agreement regarding the wages of the position being sought, but believes that they had
about a rate of $12.08 per hour.
On June 21, 1999, Jackson prepared a document for the reclassification request for
Planning and Zoning Committee and the Personnel Committee. The report notes that the
Specialist classification requires the incumbent to have (a) one year post high school
involving land surveying, plumbing, drafting, resource management, environmental sciences
land descriptions; (b) three years experience in one of the above related areas; (c) State of
certification as a Plumbing Inspector II; and (d) knowledge of plumbing pertaining to failed
sewage systems and building codes. Darges did not have those requirements. To qualify for
reclassification, she agreed to the stay in her job through January 2, 2000, to meet the
work requirement, get a Plumbing II certification before that date and complete two classes
to sewage systems, building codes or other related areas. She had to attend class on her own
but the Department paid for the tuition, books and materials.
Planning and Zoning Administrator Steven Osterman was present at the June 25,
meeting of the Personnel Committee where the wages and reclassification of Darges were
He understood that Darges was to be paid the hourly rate of $12.08 because she was boosted
Grade 7 to Grade 8 at Year 2. At the time of decision to reclassify Darges, Osterman noted
did not have experience or educational credits required. The effective date of the
January 3, 2000, which would have put Darges past her anniversary date in the Zoning
The Personnel Committee felt they made accommodations and incurred expenses to reclassify
by giving her the three years of experience and giving her tuition to take the courses she
The Union and Darges followed the procedures of Article 6, Section I, of the
bargaining agreement for the reclassification. Under Section I, Paragraph 7 states:
The decisions of the Personnel Committee and/or County Board
of Supervisors are final and
shall not be subject to the grievance procedure.
The Personnel Committee made a final decision to reclassify Darges and submitted it
County Board, which passed it with a fiscal impact statement showing the difference in
wages for the
year 2000 is $599.33.
The parties have a Letter of Agreement (Union Ex. #5) that states in part:
5. When an incumbent employee's position is reclassified to a
higher grade level the following
A. The employee shall be placed into the
wage schedule pursuant to their years of service within
the previous classification.
The County stipulated that it did not follow the Letter of Agreement in this case.
The Union argues that Darges is entitled to back pay retroactive to the date of the
the grievance, based on the ruling regarding procedural arbitrability. The Union contends
side letter of agreement (Union Ex. #5) controls in this case. The County submits that the
bargaining agreement is clear that the decisions of the Personnel Committee and/or County
are final and not subject to the grievance procedure. Moreover, the County argues that
not qualified and the Committee could have denied the reclassification. The County paid for
tuition and insisted that she be placed at Year 2 on the schedule. While the side Letter of
adds stability, it's a guide and does not supersede the contract, the County contends.
I find that Article 6, Section I, Paragraph 7, does not mean that the County may
employees and set their wage rates at any place on the negotiated wage schedule. The wage
are established by the wage schedule, which is also part of the contract and is also to be
Article 6, Section I, clearly is intended to prohibit employees from grieving decisions to
deny their reclassification requests. The County is correct when it states that it could have
the reclassification request and Darges or the Union would have no remedy. However, the
granted the request, and it has to follow the negotiated wage schedule as part of its
Grievance settlement agreements are the collective bargaining agreements (see
and Wisconsin State Employees Union, AFSCME, Council 24, AFL-CIO v. State of
Wisconsin, Dec. No. 25281-C, WERC, 1991, aff'd, Cir.Ct., Dane Co.,
Dec. No. 25281-D,
12/92). The side Letter of Agreement was a grievance settlement agreement and became
part of the
collective bargaining agreement. It applied in the future to reclassified employees. It had no
expiration date. The County admits that it follows the side Letter of Agreement most of the
but did not in this case, primarily because it made some accommodations to give Darges the
experience and education required for the reclassification. While the County may have
had at least a tacit agreement from the Union President and the affected employee regarding
of pay, it had no such agreement from the Union that was binding on the parties.
Accordingly, the County was obligated to follow the collective bargaining agreement,
modified by the side Letter of Agreement, and pay the wage rate of the schedule for Year 3
Darges. It's failure to do so violates the labor contract.
The grievance is granted.
The County violated the collective bargaining agreement by
failing to pay Denice Darges the
wage rate listed for Year 3, Grade 8, when it reclassified her to a Grade 8 position. The
ordered to make Denice Darges whole for the difference between Year 2 and Year 3,
June 28, 2000. The Arbitrator will hold jurisdiction until February 23, 2001, for the sole
resolving any dispute arising over the scope and application of the remedy ordered.
Dated at Elkhorn, Wisconsin this 25th day of January 2001.
Karen J. Mawhinney, Arbitrator