Flaherty & Hood attorney/shareholder Brandon Fitzsimmons successfully represented the City of Owatonna in a recent labor contract arbitration in which the arbitrator awarded a general wage increase for a law enforcement bargaining unit consistent with Owatonna’s internal wage pattern and denied the union’s request for a “market” wage increase in 2012 and 2013.
Prior to this award, interest arbitrators had awarded general wage increases for 2012 above the internal pattern for other greater Minnesota cities. These arbitrators gave a lot of weight to the relative standing of the cities’ hourly wages among comparable cities.
In awarding a general wage increase consistent with Owatonna’s internal pattern, the arbitrator found that:
- The current economic recovery is weak, and local government finances remain in a precarious position. Local government units typically experience a time lag in rebounding from a period of recession, and budgetary projections for the next few years still show red ink. These circumstances warrant a cautious approach to future expenditures for personnel costs.
- The unit officers would remain below the external average, but without widening the gap. The wage adjustments provided to police officers by the comparable cites essentially mirrors Owatonna’s internal pattern adjustments for 2012 and 2013.
- A clear internal pattern has been established. The evidence did not support an outcome that would deviate from the internal settlement pattern. An award of the internal pattern for this unit would foster internal consistency in wage adjustments and promote labor stability.
The grievance award can be read in its entirety here.