Sunday, August 10, 2014

Introduction of "new" technology doesn't require increase in pay

The City of New Britain, CT employs a number of mechanics responsible for maintenance of its fleet of vehicles. As part of their job duties the mechanic are required to document repairs performed, parts needed and hours spent performing tasks and are responsible for ordering necessary parts. Records were kept on paper work orders.

In May of 2012 the City introduced a new software program and required the mechanics to enter into the computer the information previously entered onto the paper work orders. The mechanics attended a two day training program on the new system.

The Union representing the mechanics (AFSCME Council 4) processed a grievance on their behalf, claiming that the new requirements were more difficult and time consuming. It asserted that the job description for the mechanics did not require them to be proficient in the use of computers or computer software.

The dispute was unresolved in the grievance procedure and was submitted to arbitration before the Connecticut State Board of Mediation and Arbitration.  The Board rejected the grievance, concluding:

 The job description lists among the position's job duties the recording and requisitioning of tools, materials and supplies for the assigned tasks as necessary. ... Clearly, the information required is the same; it is only the method of recording that information which has changed. The computer is nothing more than a different tool to input the information. And while it may take more time to input that information (especially if one is unaccustomed to using a computer), the extra time does not make these duties outside the scope of the mechanics job description. Put another way, taking additional time to perform a task that is clearly within the scope of the job description does not entitle the mechanic to a higher rate of pay.

The Board also rejected the Union's claim that the computer work was actually the work of the manager. While the manager was responsible for overseeing software management programs, what the mechanics performed was, the Board concluded, essentially data entry.

The Board of Mediation and Arbitration's decision can be found here.

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