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Title: City of Lake Oswego and IAFF, Local 1159 
Date: October 7, 1994 
Arbitrator: Luella E. Nelson 
Citation: 1994 NAC 111

 

In the matter of arbitration between:


            IAFF, Local 1159,

                           and

        City of Lake Oswego,

 

 

 

RE: Interest Arbitration

LUELLA E. NELSON, Arbitrator

 

                                                                                            


ARBITRATOR'S
OPINION AND AWARD

            This Interest Arbitration arises between IAFF, Local 1159 ("Association"), and City of Lake Oswego ("City").  LUELLA E. NELSON was selected to serve as Arbitrator, and her Award shall be final and binding upon the parties.

            At a hearing held on September 8, 1994, in Lake Oswego, Oregon, the parties had the oppor­tu­nity to examine and cross-examine witnesses, introduce relevant exhibits, and argue the issues in dispute.  The Arbitrator's notes and the exhibits constitute the record in this matter; a tape recording served as a back-up to her notes.  Both parties submitted the matter on closing oral argument.

            In arriving at her Decision and Award, the Arbitrator weighed and considered the following criteria set forth in the Oregon Public Employees Collective Bargaining Act, ORS 243.746(4), and the Rules of the Oregon Employment Relations Board ("ERB"), OAR 115-40-015(8):

            (a)        The lawful authority of the employer;

            (b)        Stipulations of the parties;

            (c)        The interest and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the unit government to meet those costs;

            (d)        Comparison of the wages, hours and conditions of employment of other employees performing similar services and with other employees generally:

                        (A)       In public employment in comparable communities;

                        (B)       In private employment in comparable communities;

            (e)        The average consumer prices for goods and services commonly known as the cost of living;

            (f)        The overall compensation presently received by the employees, including direct wage compensation, vacations, holidays and other excused time, insurance and pensions, medical and hospitalization benefits, and continuity and stability of employment, and all other benefits received;

            (g)        Changes in any of the foregoing circumstances during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings;

            (h)        Such other factors, not confined to the foregoing, which are normally or traditionally taken into consideration in the determination of wages, hours and conditions of employment through voluntary collective bargaining, mediation, factfinding, arbitration or otherwise between the parties, in the public service or in private service.

APPEARANCES:

            On behalf of the Association:

                        Michael Tedesco, Esquire, 825 NE Multnomah, Suite 935, Portland, OR   97232

            On behalf of the City:

                        Bruce Bischof, Esquire, Sunriver Village Mall, P. O. Box 3215, Sunriver, OR 97707

BACKGROUND

            This case involves incentive pay for Emergency Medical Technicians ("EMT's") under the 1992-94 Agreement.  The parties are in negotiations for a successor Agreement, which is not a part of this proceeding.  While those negotiations continue, the 1992-94 Agreement remains in effect.

            The State of Oregon classifies EMT's at levels 1, 2, 3, and 4,[1] with additional certifications for EMT-1's and 2's to indicate they are qualified to defibrillate (1D and 2D).  Over time, EMT's at lower levels may move to higher certifications through additional training.  Colloquially, EMT-3's and 4's are called paramedics.

            Effective July 1995, the State will reclassify EMT's as B (Basic), I (Intermediate), or P (Paramedic).  Former EMT-1's will become EMT-B's; former EMT-2's and 2D's will become EMT-I's; former EMT-3's can become EMT-I's or, with additional training, EMT-P's; and former EMT-4's will become EMT-P's.  The City has already begun the reclassifica­tion process.  After that process is complete, the City will have 20 EMT-B's, 13 EMT-I's, and 7 EMT-P's.

            All unit employees must be at least an EMT-1.  Until early in 1994, employees used fire engines to get to medical emergencies and provided basic life support[2] until the ambulance service arrived.  At the time, a company called Metro West provided ambulance service to the City.  Metro West provided advanced life support ("ALS") and transportation to the hospital.

            The City became dissatisfied with Metro West's response time.  It decided to buy an ambulance to allow its personnel to provide ALS.  It bought an ambulance in November 1993 and garaged it at the main fire station--one of four in the City.  Beginning in January 1994, if a paramedic was on duty at the main station when a medical emergency call came in, s/he drove to the scene in the ambulance rather than on the engine.  Fire engines from other stations had the discretion of requesting dispatch of the City ambulance from the main station to a medical emergency.  At times, the City temporarily transferred para­medics from the other three stations to the main station.  However, it had no policy of assigning paramedics to the ambulance on every shift.

            In February 1994, the City implemented a partnership agreement for ambulance services with Buck Medical Services, Inc. ("Buck"),[3] Clackamas County Fire District No. 1, and the City of Oak Lodge Fire District.  The partners agreed to coordinate ambulance equipment and person­nel through Buck's dispatcher.

            At first, the Buck agreement resulted in few changes to City procedures.  Paramedics responded to medical emergencies in the ambulance rather than the fire engine.  However, City personnel continued to provide only on-the-scene care, then turned patients over to Buck.

            Beginning in May 1994, the City's ambulance tied into Buck's area-wide ambulance system.  The other partners to the Buck agreement tied into the system on July 1.  Buck ambulances normally arrive at the scene in addition to City per­son­nel.  City paramedics normally provide initial care, including ALS, then turn the patient over to Buck for transportation to the hospital.  However, if Buck has no am­bu­lance available, or if its ambulance has not arrived by the time a patient needs transportation, City paramedics provide transportation to the hospital using the City's ambulance.

            City paramedics respond to medical emergencies anywhere in the county in the ambulance.  They also respond to fire emergencies on the fire engine, primarily within their own area of the City.  When the City ambulance is transporting patients, EMT's from other stations work in larger areas to cover the area normally served by the main station.  City paramedics respond to motor vehicle accidents in the ambulance.  Other companies send engines to motor vehicle accidents in addition to the City ambulance and, often, the Buck ambulance.  The overlap between engines and the City ambulance has in­creased call volumes.

            The City schedules paramedics on the ambulance for every shift.  It no longer permits paramedics to trade shifts with other employees if the result would be that no paramedic would be present for a shift.  The amount of paperwork has increased, as has the amount of supervision.

ISSUES

            The Employer seeks to maintain the current contract language of Article XXI until a successor Agreement has been negotiated.  That language reads as follows:

            21.1      The City shall compensate up to twelve employes who have obtained and main­tained their Emergency Medical Technician IID Certificate at a rate of 1% of their hourly rate.

            21.2      The City shall compensate up to six employes who have obtained and main­tained their Emergency Medical Technician III or IV Certificate at a rate of 2% of their hourly rate.

            21.3      The parties recognize that in the event of a change in departmental pro­cedures regarding the Emergency Medical Service, that impact bargaining procedures consistent with state law may be available to the Association to readjust the EMT wage rates and working conditions for EMS.

The same language appeared as Article XX of the 1990-92 Agreement and in the 1988-90 Agreement.  The Association proposes the following language:

            21.1      The City shall compensate Department EMT's according to the following schedule:

 

            EMT 1 (OR EMT B)                                                                 2.5% of their hourly wage

            EMT 2 (OR EMT I)                                                                  6% of their hourly wage

            EMT 3                                                                                      9% of their hourly wage

            EMT 4 (OR EMT P)                                                                 11% of their hourly wage

            21.2      The City further agrees to compensate employees assigned to the Department Medic Unit an additional 2% of the hourly wage for each shift so assigned.

PARTIES' POSITIONS

            The Association points to the change in operations that accompanied the new ambulance and the Buck agreement as a trigger for bargaining and modifications under Article 21.3.  The City argues there is no rationale for changing EMT pay rates before the negotiation of a successor Agreement.  It does not challenge the Interest Arbitrator's jurisdiction to decide the incentive pay issue.  However, it argues that the Arbitrator should find the current Agreement dispositive.

            The City points out that the Association's proposal exceeds the proposals made as part of a package offer in negotiations for a successor Agreement.  The Association asserts the EMT incentive pay proposal was part of a compromise package intended to permit closure of the entire successor contract, which was not accepted.

            The City also argues that negotiations for the 1992 Agreement are relevant.  In particular, it points out that it proposed incentive pay of 2% to EMT-2D's and 3% to EMT-3's and 4's.  The Association rejected that proposal, leaving lower incentive rates of 1% and 2%, respectively.

            Both parties point to incentive pay for EMT's at neighboring jurisdictions that were used as comparators in the interest arbitration that led to the 1992-94 Agreement.  That interest arbitration involved four issues, including wages, but not including EMT incentive pay.

            The Association argues that the City of Beaverton and the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Districts should be considered separate entities for purposes of analysis.  The City did not discuss this issue.  The interest arbitrator for the 1992-94 Agreement considered them to be one entity.  She noted the two jurisdictions bargained jointly with the Association for uniform wages, hours, and work­­ing conditions, but each jurisdiction had to ratify the resulting agreement.  Following her deci­sion, the Association failed in an attempt to force the two jurisdictions to consolidate.

            The City's figures for comparators reflect only current contract language, whereas the Union's figures take into account tentative agreements (T/A's) in current negotiations.  The table at Appendix A summarizes the figures submitted by both parties, as well as the EMT incentive pay under the cur­rent Agreement and the Association proposals in evidence.  Some juris­dic­tions condition the amount of incentive pay on whether the EMT is assigned to an ambulance.

            Finally, both parties argue that working conditions should be a factor in deter­min­ing EMT incentive pay.  The Association asserts the City employs too few paramedics to handle the increased volume of medical emergency calls required by the Buck agree­ment.  It also asserts that some em­ploy­ees have moved to Portland because they want to fight more fires.  It notes every jurisdiction gets numerous qualified applicants for openings be­cause of the scarcity of firefighting jobs.  The City asserts that its relatively new housing stock and light industrial base result in fewer fires and make firefighting less hazardous.  It argues the relatively light workload makes it a highly desirable locale for firefighters.  The City observes that it gets numer­ous qualified applicants for every opening.

ANALYSIS

PRELIMINARY MATTERS

            The Agreement is clear and unambiguous.  Paragraph 21.3 specifically permits impact bargaining over wages and working conditions to respond to changes in pro­cedures.  On this record, significant changes in procedures have occurred with the advent of the new ambulance and, especially, the implementation of the Buck agreement.  Therefore, the current contract language is not dispositive of the issue of EMT incentive pay.

            Most of the statutory criteria have not been raised in this proceeding.  Three are most applic­able:  (c), "wages, hours and conditions of employment of other employees performing similar services...," (f), "overall compensation ... received ...," and (g), "[c]hanges in ... circumstances."

            This proceeding involves a very limited issue--that is, the impact of the operational changes on incentive pay under the 1992-94 Agreement.  The comparability of overall compensation is of less moment in this case than it would be if this case arose out of negotiations for a successor Agreement.  An earlier interest arbitration brought wages to comparable levels for the 1992-94 Agreement, after the parties' own negotiations resolved other compensation issues.  If later changes in other jurisdictions have thrown overall compensation out of kilter, that can be addressed in bar­gaining and, if necessary, interest arbitration for the suc­cessor Agreement.  Using incentive pay in these interim negotiations to offset intervening changes in other forms of compensation in com­parable jurisdictions would complicate the process of assessing compar­ability in future negotiations.

            The parties agree it is appropriate to use the same comparators used in the earlier interest arbi­tration for the 1992-94 Agreement.  Since that award, the failed attempt at consolidation has clarified the relationship between the City of Beaverton and the Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue.  It is now established that the two jurisdictions remain separate entities.  The Interest Arbitrator will treat them as such.  In calculating average EMT incentive rates, those comparators whose contracts do not grant such pay to lower-level EMT's are calculated into the average.  As this proceeding involves only incentive rates pending negotiation of a successor Agreement, the Arbitrator will use the current rates, rather than tentatively-agreed-to rates.

            The issue of assignment pay calls for special attention because the City did not operate an ambulance at the time the parties entered into the 1992-94 Agreement.  The parties therefore had no occasion to consider whether to incorporate assignment pay into their incentive pay structure.  Among the comparators, the trend is away from including such provisions.  Three do not have such a provision; two others have tentatively agreed to remove it; and two others have functionally abandoned it by considering all EMT's to be assigned to medic units.  However, the Association's interim bargaining proposals incorporate this distinction.  Where appropriate, both "assigned" and "not assigned" rates will be considered in making comparisons.

            The Merits

            On this record, the paramedic classifications--EMT-3 and 4--absorbed the brunt of the operational changes.   Since May 1994, they have provided more varied and prolonged medical services, and covered a larger territory, extending beyond the City.  The need to have a paramedic on duty at all times has limited their ability to trade shifts.  The impact on EMT-1's and 2's has been more indirect.  They cover more territory within the City when the ambulance is tied up.  The overall increase in call volume affects all employees.

            The Association's proposal would generate pay increases for all unit employ­ees, ranging from 2.5% to 9%.  Some employees would receive an additional 2% in assignment pay.  For the first time under the parties' Agreement, incentive pay would go to EMT-1's and 2's.

            The need for 24-hour staffing has caused all seven City paramedics to be as­signed to the City ambulance.  In these circumstances, the higher "when assigned" rates are the closest comparable incentive rates for City paramedics.  By any standard, incentive pay for City paramedics lags substantially behind employees doing comparable work in similar jurisdictions.  Every comparator pays both classifications at least 2% more than the City's current 2%.  Indeed, all except Oregon City pay more than the first year of Association's "package" proposal in 1994-95 negotiations (4% and 6%, respectively).  All comparators do pay less than the Association's proposal for this interim negotiation for paramedics.

            Several alternative methods of analysis result in incentive rates clustering around 7% for EMT-3's and a bit over 9% for EMT-4's.  The average "when assigned" rate for the eight compar­a­tors is 6.75% for EMT-3's and 8.863% for EMT-4's.  If one excludes Oregon City, which does not operate an ambulance, the rates are 7.143% and 9.557%, respectively.  If one disregards the highest and lowest rate, the average rates fall at 6.833% and 9.283%, respectively.  The average rates for the other partners to the Buck agreement are 7.75% and 9.5%, respectively.  Looking instead at median figures, the rates fall at 7.0% and 9.25%, respectively.

            The 1992 negotiations become relevant at this point.  Had the Association accepted the City's offer, EMT-3's and 4's would have received incentive rates that were 1% higher than the figure in the current Agreement.  In the ordinary course of bargaining, such an increase would not be turned down unless other aspects of the package offset the foregone gains.  Thus, although this record shows a large gross discrepancy, it is more appropriate to consider the net discrepancy.  This can best be done by reducing by 1% the figure that would otherwise be suggested by the comparables.  Thus, on this record, an incentive rate of 6% for EMT-3's and 8.25% for EMT-4's would make them comparable to similarly-classified employees in similar communities.

            The incentive pay for City EMT-2D's is low compared to similar jurisdictions, but not as glaringly discrepant as for higher-level classifications.  Looking only at such EMT's when assigned to an ambulance, the average incentive rate is 3.438%, about 2.4% larger than the 1% in the current Agreement.  If one disregards the highest and lowest scores, the aver­age remains very close to that resulting from the larger pool--3.583%.  The other two partners in the Buck agreement pay among the highest rates for this classification, and accordingly average much higher than the comparators at 5.25%.  The median rate is 3.5%.  As with the EMT-3's and 4's, EMT-2D's gave up a potential 1% increase in 1992 negotiations.  On this record, an incentive rate of 2.4% for EMT-2D's would make them comparable to similar jurisdictions.

            Unlike most jurisdictions, City EMT-2's receive no incentive pay.  Looking only at such EMT's when assigned to an ambulance, the average incentive rate is 2.375%.  If one disregards the highest and lowest scores, the aver­age remains very close to that resulting from the larger pool--2.333%..  The other two partners in the Buck agreement average a little higher than the comparators as a whole, at 2.5%.  The median is 2%.  On this record, an incentive rate of 2.4% for EMT-2's would make them comparable to similar jurisdictions.

            EMT-1's are very slightly underpaid compared to the average, and coincide exactly with the median incentive rate for that classification.  Indeed, incentive pay for EMT-1's is relatively unusual.  Only two jurisdictions pay incentive rates to EMT-1's at all.  If one excludes the highest and lowest rates, the average incentive rate is only .417%.  The rate exceeds 1% only when looking at the average for the two Buck partners, and only because one of the two part­ners pays incentive pay to EMT-1's.  On this record, adding incentive pay would give undue deference to aberrant pay patterns.  Accordingly, no incentive pay is appropriate for EMT-1's.

            The higher incentive rates provided above shall be effective only since May 1, 1994, when the tie-in to the Buck system began having its impact on these classifications.  Turning to the issue of assignment pay, all EMT-3's and 4's are assigned to work on the ambulance in any event.  Working while not assigned to an ambulance leaves City EMT-1's, 2's and 2D's only slightly closer to the comparators, if at all.  The overall average rates under such conditions are 0.813%, 2.314% and 3.088%.  If one disregards the highest and lowest scores, the averages are 0.417%, 1.867% and 3.35%, respectively.  Median rates are the same as when assigned.  On this record, bifurcating pay depending on whether or not the employee was assigned to an ambulance would either underpay EMT's not so assigned, or overpay EMT's assigned to ambulances.

AWARD

            The incentive rate for EMT-4's shall be 8.25%.  The incentive rate for EMT-3's shall be 6%.  The incentive rate for EMT-2's and 2D's shall be 2.4%.  There shall be no incentive pay for EMT-1's.  The higher incentive rates shall be effective only since May 1, 1994.  There shall be no assignment pay.

            DATED:  October 7, 1994

                                                                                                            /s/ Luella E. Nelson               

                                                                                     LUELLA E. NELSON - Interest Arbitrator


APPENDIX A

 COMPARATORS

Jurisdiction                      EMT-1     EMT-2     EMT-2D     EMT-3     EMT-4          EMT-B       EMT-I    EMT-P

Beaverton*

  when assigned                0.0          2.0          2.0            7.0        11.2           N/S         N/S           11.2

  (when not assigned)          (0.0)        (0.6)        (0.6)          (2.1)        (3.36)        N/A         N/A         N/A

Clackamas #1†                   0.0          0.0          5.5            6.5          9.0           N/S             5.5          9.0

Gresham

  when assigned                0.0          0.0          0.0            7.5          9.5           N/S         N/S         N/S

  (when not assigned)          (0.0)        (0.0)        (0.0)          (5.5)        (7.5)          N/S         N/S            (7.5)

Hillsboro                                           0.0          2.0            3.0          5.0               7.0          1.0          4.0  7.0

Milwaukie‡                          0.0          4.0          6.0            8.0          9.0           N/S             6.0          9.0

Oak Lodge†‡                      2.5          5.0          5.0            9.0        10.0               2.5          5.0        10.0

Oregon City6                      4.0          4.0          4.0            4.0          4.0               4.0          4.0          4.0

Tualatin Valley

  Fire & Rescue*

  when assigned                0.0          2.0          2.0            7.0        11.2           N/S         N/S           11.2

  (when not assigned)          (0.0)        (0.6)        (0.6)          (2.1)        (3.36)        N/A         N/A         N/A

AVERAGE

  when assigned             0.813      2.375       3.438          6.750      8.863

  (when not assigned)        (0.813)    (2.314)     (3.088)        (5.275)    (6.653)

AVERAGE FOR OTHER BUCK PARTNERS (Clackamas #1 and Oak Lodge)

                                       1.250      2.500       5.250          7.750      9.500

AVERAGE "WHEN ASSIGNED" FOR JURISDICTIONS THAT OPERATE AMBULANCES (excluding Oregon City)

                                       0.357      2.143       3.357          7.143      9.557

*    T/A removes distinction between EMT's assigned to an ambulance and those not so assigned for incentive pay purposes.

   Partner in agreement with City and Buck.

   Agreement grants incentive pay when assigned to ambulances; all EMT's are considered to be so assigned at all times.

6   Does not run an ambulance.  Data for EMT-B, I, and P has been transferred to former classifications for ease of comparison.

CURRENT CONTRACT RATES AND ASSOCIATION PROPOSALS

Source  EMT-1                 EMT-2     EMT-2D   EMT-3       EMT-4     EMT-B         EMT-I         EMT-P

Contract Rates                    0.0          0.0          1.0            2.0          2.0               0.0          1.0          2.0

Assn Proposal

  when assigned                4.5          8.0          8.0           11.0        13.0               4.5          8.0        13.0

  (when not assigned)          (2.5)        (6.0)        (6.0)          (9.0)      (11.0)             (2.5)        (6.0)      (11.0)

1994-95 Proposal

  when assigned

    First Year                       2.0          2.0          2.0            4.0          6.0               2.0          4.0          6.0

    Second Year                   4.0          4.0          4.0            7.0        10.0               4.0          7.0        10.0

    Third Year                       4.0          4.0          4.0            7.0        12.0               4.0          7.0        12.0

  (when not assigned)

    First Year                      (2.0)        (2.0)        (2.0)          (4.0)        (6.0)             (2.0)        (4.0)        (6.0)

    Second Year                  (2.0)        (2.0)        (2.0)          (5.0)        (8.0)             (2.0)        (5.0)        (8.0)

    Third Year                      (2.0         (2.0)        (2.0)          (5.0)      (10.0)             (2.0)        (5.0)      (10.0)

APPENDIX B

WITNESSES FOR THE ASSOCIATION

MICHAEL DUYCK

STEVE RICHARDS

JIM GILLIES

VICTOR McPHERSON

WITNESSES FOR THE CITY

ROBERT KINCAID

EXHIBITS

CITY

1          Agreement effective 7/1/90-6/30/92

2          Letter of 8/25/94 from Michael Tedesco to Luella E. Nelson, setting forth Association's interim bargaining proposal for interest arbitration

3          Letter of 8/10/92 from Robert Kincaid to Nancy Brown re outstanding articles, with attached proposed language for EMT incentive rates

4          Interest Arbitration Award, City of Lake Oswego and IAFF Local 1159, February 10, 1993 (Katrina I. Boedecker)

5          Handwritten notes on Association proposal in 1994 negotiations

6          Agreement effective 7/1/92-6/30/94

7          Memo of 4/19/82 from Jim Gillies to Jack Snook

ASSOCIATION

1          4/29/94 Special Notice re Ambulance Backup

2          5/2/94 Operation Guides with Interim Partnership Agreement

3          Emergency Medical Services Public/Private Partnership Agreement

4          Memo 12/16/93 re Protocol Test

5          Chart of employees by EMT level

6          EMT Comparators of Buck Partners as of 7/1/94

7          Buck Partners Union Proposal

8          Buck Partners Total Compensation Compared

9          EMT Comparisons as of 7/1/94

10         EMT Comparisons with Current Lake Oswego EMT Pay Rates

11         EMT Comparison with Union Proposal

12         Metro Total Compensation Compared

13         Handwritten bargaining notes and proposals for 1988-91

14         6/5/94 handwritten memo from Tim Buchanan re trading shifts

15         Interest Arbitration Award, City of Lake Oswe­go and IAFF Local 1159, February 10, 1993 (Katrina I. Boedecker)

16         Interest Arbitration Award, City of Gresham and IAFF Local 1062, June 13, 1994 (Thomas F. Levak)

17         Letter of 8/25/94 from Michael Tedesco to Luella E. Nelson, setting forth Association's interim bargaining proposal for interest arbitration

18         Letter of 1/26/94 demanding bargaining over change in working conditions


[1]           The actual designations are in Roman numerals.  To avoid confusion with a new classifica­tion system, this Award will refer to the historic classifications using Arabic numerals.

[2]           Basic life support can be provided by any EMT.  It consists of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation ("CPR"), stemming hemorrhages, providing oxygen, and otherwise keeping the patient alive until the ambulance arrives.

[3]           Buck has since changed its name to American Medical Response.

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