National Arbitration Center
City of Lake Oswego
and IAFF, Local 1159
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
The lawful authority of the employer;
Stipulations of the parties;
The interest and welfare of the public and the financial ability of the
unit government to meet those costs;
Comparison of the wages, hours and conditions of employment of other
employees performing similar services and with other employees generally:
In public employment in comparable communities;
(B) In private employment in comparable communities;
The average consumer prices for goods and services commonly known as
the cost of living;
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;
Changes in any of the foregoing circumstances during the pendency of
the arbitration proceedings;
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.
On behalf of the Association:
Michael Tedesco, Esquire, 825 NE Multnomah, Suite 935, Portland, OR
On behalf of the City:
Bruce Bischof, Esquire, Sunriver Village Mall, P. O. Box 3215, Sunriver,
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,
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
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.
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
The Employer seeks to maintain the current
contract language of Article XXI until a successor Agreement has been
negotiated. That language reads
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.
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.
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:
The City shall compensate Department EMT's according to the following
EMT 1 (OR EMT B)
2.5% of their hourly wage
EMT 2 (OR EMT I)
6% of their hourly wage
9% of their hourly wage
EMT 4 (OR EMT P)
11% of their hourly wage
City further agrees to compensate employees assigned to the Department Medic
Unit an additional 2% of the hourly wage for each shift so assigned.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
/s/ Luella E. Nelson
LUELLA E. NELSON - Interest Arbitrator
(when not assigned)
(when not assigned)
Fire & Rescue*
(when not assigned)
(when not assigned)
AVERAGE FOR OTHER BUCK PARTNERS (Clackamas #1 and Oak Lodge)
"WHEN ASSIGNED" FOR JURISDICTIONS THAT OPERATE AMBULANCES (excluding
* 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
(when not assigned)
(when not assigned)
WITNESSES FOR THE ASSOCIATION
WITNESSES FOR THE CITY
Agreement effective 7/1/90-6/30/92
Letter of 8/25/94 from Michael Tedesco to Luella E. Nelson, setting forth
Association's interim bargaining proposal for interest arbitration
Letter of 8/10/92 from Robert Kincaid to Nancy Brown re outstanding
articles, with attached proposed language for EMT incentive rates
Interest Arbitration Award, City of Lake Oswego and IAFF Local 1159,
February 10, 1993 (Katrina I. Boedecker)
Handwritten notes on Association proposal in 1994 negotiations
Agreement effective 7/1/92-6/30/94
Memo of 4/19/82 from Jim Gillies to Jack Snook
4/29/94 Special Notice re Ambulance Backup
5/2/94 Operation Guides with Interim Partnership Agreement
Emergency Medical Services Public/Private Partnership Agreement
Memo 12/16/93 re Protocol Test
Chart of employees by EMT level
EMT Comparators of Buck Partners as of 7/1/94
Buck Partners Union Proposal
Buck Partners Total Compensation Compared
EMT Comparisons as of 7/1/94
10 EMT Comparisons with
Current Lake Oswego EMT Pay Rates
11 EMT Comparison with
12 Metro Total
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.
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
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.
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.
Buck has since changed its name to American Medical Response.