Salem Police Superior Officers Association Wins Important Victory For Retiring Members
In an arbitration case, the Arbitrator found that the City of Salem violated the contract and past practice when Mayor Driscoll refused to pay a Captain, retiring after 30 years of service to the City’s Police Department, for the various benefits and stipends which all other retirees had received for over 25 years. The Mayor claimed that there was not explicit contract language requiring payment for the various benefits and stipends upon retirement and therefore, even though every retiree had received the benefits and stipends when he/she retired, the Mayor refused to pay the benefits and stipends to this Captain.
In his Decision, the Arbitrator explained that it is clear that the City officials including the Mayor, Personnel, Finance, Treasury officials and Police Chiefs were aware of the payments and that the City Council funded the payments when it voted appropriations to fund the contracts and Department budgets. The Arbitrator found further that the evidence discloses that the benefit/stipend payment practices up to the grievant’s retirement “were unequivocal, clearly enunciated and acted upon for a considerable period of time, easily discernible over a long period of time as a fixed and established practice accepted by both parties.” In addition, the Arbitrator found that the “past practice” concerning unpaid benefits and stipends “had become an implied-in-fact contract term.” “As a binding past practice is an enforceable, implied-in-fact contract term, it may only be altered by the collective bargaining process.” Therefore, the retired Captain was entitled to be paid fully for the unpaid benefits and stipends as the other retirees before him received and the City of Salem must continue to comply with the pertinent contract provisions and the parties’ past practices unless and until the parties properly negotiate to amend or alter the parties past practices. The Union was represented by Sandulli Grace Attorney, Susan Horwitz.
It should also be noted that the Salem Police Superior Officers Association has recently affiliated with the Massachusetts Coalition of Police, AFL-CIO.