Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.


Accept   Cancel

Please be advised that contacting Ruder Ware by e-mail does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you contact the firm by e-mail with respect to a matter where the firm does not already represent you, any information which you disclose to us may not be regarded as privileged or confidential.


Accept   Cancel

PAL Login

linkedin.jpgyoutube.jpgvimeo.jpgtwitter_off.png View Ruder Ware

Local Governments and School Districts Blog

What's Your Quid?

Authored by Ruder Ware Attorneys
Posted on January 26, 2015
Filed under Local Governments and School Districts

As labor law attorneys know, there are very few interest arbitration decisions being issued since Act 10 took effect in 2011. In fact, in the last thirteen months, there were only four such decisions. This is significant change from the "good old days” prior to Act 10 when very often there were several cases decided each month. This is primarily due to the fact that in Wisconsin only police, fire and transit unions have retained the right to go to interest arbitration when they are unable to reach a collective bargaining agreement. However, it is imperative to pay close attention to these new decisions. These decisions provide guidance for the changes in the law and how interest arbitrators are deciding cases. Significantly, it also helps municipalities be ready when preparing for and bargaining with their police, fire and transit unions. 

The most recent interest arbitration case decision involves the City of Eau Claire and its firefighters. (According to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, this decision will be “public” on its website in early February of 2015.) In that case, Arbitrator Mawhinney had to select between the two final offers submitted. Among other things, she decided the external comparables. She noted the parties had never litigated over their collective bargaining agreement and it had been “quite awhile since [the City’s] police went to arbitration.” Although the parties were in agreement following the hearing on sixteen comparables, the union still wanted to add Green Bay and Racine for comparable data analysis. In finding for the union on this issue, the arbitrator found that “the comparable pool is not set in stone.” Further, although “Green Bay looks a little heavy” in terms of population, the parties’ agreed upon list contained comparable cities that were small; thus, the addition of Green Bay and Racine, according to Mawhinney, will “balance” out the list. “Since the agreed upon list is so heavy with smaller comparables…it makes sense to add two larger comparables.” There was no reference in the decision over the duration that the parties had a bargaining history of using a list without the inclusion of Green Bay and Racine.

On the issues of wages and health insurance premium contributions for a two year contract, the City offered a two percent wage increase each of the two years. It also offered that employees go from an 8% to 10% in premium contribution rate in the first year and from 10% to 13% in the second year. The union offered 2% on wages the first year, and a split 2%/2% in the second year (for a 6% wage total). As for health insurance, the union matched the city’s first year at 10%, but it would only offer 12% during the second year. Thus, the parties were 1% apart on premium contribution rates for both years.

In selecting the union’s final offer, the arbitrator found that “the City offered nothing for a quid pro quo in its request for a difference in the health insurance employee contribution rate “and is a little on the low side [regarding comparables] on wages.” The arbitrator also noted that the police unit had not settled for the same period. 

In light of this case, it is important for municipalities to be aware of their comparables and that this may change. It is equally important to know what kind of “quid” you are offering so, if litigation is necessary, your chances of winning at the hearing are maximized.