Monday, February 13, 2012

Retired police officer, now firefighter, entitled to reimbursement of health care premiums

Finding the grievance both procedurally and substantively arbitrable, Arbitrator Francis Donal O’Brien finds that the Town of North Providence, Rhode Island violated its agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police by failing to reimburse a retired police officer for health care contributions required in his subsequent employment.
Grievant was employed by the Town as a police officer for over 20 years prior to his retirement. The applicable cba provided that upon his retirement he would be eligible to receive continued medical coverage, with the Town paying 100% of the premium.  The agreement also provided that if he became employed by a firm, person or corporation providing paid  family medical coverage his Town coverage would be suspended but the Town would reimburse him for any contribution required by the “new” employer
After his retirement from the police department ,grievant attended the North Providence fire academy as was hired by the Town as a firefighter.  The firefighters were represented by a union other than the FOP, and the contact covering them required a premium contribution for covered employees.  The Town refused to reimburse grievant for the required contribution, contending that it was not a “new” employer.
                While finding the Union and grievant “took an exceedingly long time” to file a grievance, the Arbitrator concluded that the grievance was a continuing one and the grievance was therefore timely. The Arbitrator also concluded that while grievant was no longer part of the FOP bargaining unit, the Union had the right to arbitrate a claimed violation on contract language specifically applicable to retirees.
                On the merits, the arbitrator found that the language of the cba applicable to continuing health care coverage was not dependent upon whether the subsequent employer was a “new” employer or the same employer. Accordingly he upheld the grievance.
The arbitrator's award can be found here.

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