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Interest Arbitration Award

Edited to cover only the issue of clothing allowance for detectives



In re

City of Chehalis, Washington

(Police Department)


Teamsters Union, Local 252


Case No. 15864-I-01-366

February 22, 2002


Cite as: 116 LA (BNA) 1424



Mark S. Downing, Arbitrator


I. Introduction


This is an interest arbitration proceeding under Chapter 41.56 RCW and Chapter 391-55 WAC between Teamsters Union, Local 252 (Union), and City of Chehalis, Washington, Police Department (City). The City and Union are parties to a collective bargaining agreement (agreement) effective January 1, 1998, through December 31, 2000. The agreement covers approximately 15 employees in the classifications of police officer and police sergeant.


After the City and union failed to reach agreement in bilateral negotiations for a successor agreement, on December 20, 2000, the parties filed for mediation with the Public Employment Relations Commission (Commission). See Case 15530-M-00-5435. The matter was not resolved in mediation and on June 19, 2001, Marvin L. Schurke, Executive Director of the Commission, certified the following issues for interest arbitration under RCW 41.56.450:


1. Salary schedule [omitted here]

2. Compensatory Time [omitted here]

3. Contact Calls [omitted here]

4. Specialty Pay [omitted here]

5. Detective Clothing Allowance

6. Longevity Pay [omitted here]



Detective Clothing Allowance


Detectives currently receive an annual allowance of $540 for clothing. The Union proposes to increase this allowance to $600, citing several reasons in support of its proposal.


One, while the allowance has remained at $540 for the last two agreements, the cost of clothing has increased.


Second, during the term of the last agreement the City began withholding income taxes from the allowance in response to an IRS ruling. The Union argues that this action by the City has effectively reduced the value of the clothing allowance. The City emphasizes that data from the comparables do not support an increase.


The arguments by the parties focus on two statutory factors: 1) Comparable conditions of employment; and 2) Other factors normally or traditionally taken into consideration in bargaining. Agreements from the comparables provide the following information concerning annual clothing allowances:


  Arlington              $400                            

  Burlington              500                              

  Centralia               675                             

  Fernadale               600                             

  Hoquiam                 350                             

  Kelso                   500                             

  Port Orchard            QM*                             

  Poulsbo                 555                             

  Sedro-Woolley           QM*                              

  Shelton                 700                             

  Sumner                  QM*                             

  Average                 535                             

  Chehalis                540                             



* Quartermaster system where employer replaces uniforms on “as needed basis”.                                                               


The current detective clothing allowance of $540 is $5 above the average allowance provided by the comparables.


The Union's arguments relate to other factors normally or traditionally taken into consideration in bargaining. Clothing allowances based on flat dollar amounts are frequently increased in negotiations due to inflationary pressures. The Union has a valid concern that the clothing allowance has not increased in recent years.


The Union's argument concerning the deceased value of the current allowance due to the withholding of income taxes is not persuasive. Any ruling by the IRS requiring the City to modify its withholding practices would apply equally to the comparables.


In determining an appropriate dollar amount for the detective clothing allowance, the information from the comparables outweighs the other factors cited by the Union. The Arbitrator must reject the Union's proposal for an increase in the detective clothing allowance.


*  *  *




Based upon the competent, material and substantial evidence on the whole record, it is the decision of the Arbitrator that the parties' 2001-2002 agreement shall include the following provisions: *  *  *



2) Detective Clothing Allowance—section 7.1.4. shall remain unchanged.


*  * *



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