PA police ask appeals court to allow arbitration over hurricane pay grievance

David Yates Apr. 14, 2010, 8:00am

The Port Arthur Police Association is petitioning an appellate court to allow them to pursue an arbitration claim against the city of Port Arthur to collect overtime pay earned in the wake of Hurricane Ike.

Early last year, the city learned the PAPA intended to pursue an arbitration grievance and filed for an injunction to stop the process, court records show.

On March 2, 2009, Judge Donald Floyd granted the city's injunction request, ruling that "the subject matter sought to be arbitrated by the (PAPA) is not arbitrable."

The police association filed an appeal in the Ninth District Court of Appeals of Texas on May 29, 2009.

The case has been set for submission on briefs for April 27.

In its appellate brief, PAPA argues that the city's "injunction prohibiting (them) from submitting a contract grievance" is an issue "pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement in place between the parties."

"The subject of the grievance is not excluded from arbitration by the collective bargaining agreement, and therefore must be submitted to an arbitrator for arbitration," the PAPA's brief states.

Conversely, the city argues in its brief that the police association is "attempting to expand the contract and submit a matter foreign to the contract."

Court papers show that the PAPA filed a grievance with Port Arthur Police Chief W.M. Blanton on Oct. 3, 2008, over the city's alleged failure to pay police officers the same rate of pay provided to other city employees during and after Hurricane Ike in September 2008.

In the grievance, the association claimed the city violated Articles 6, 7 and 8 of a collective bargaining agreement that was in effect until Sept. 30 between the association and the city. The hurricane struck Southeast Texas on Sept. 13, 2008.

The city and PAPA have been governed by a collective bargaining agreement since 1994.

Mitch Adams, an attorney from the Combined Law Enforcement Agencies of Texas, is representing the PAPA.

The city of Port Arthur is represented by attorney Carl A. Parker

Appeals case No. 09-09-00242-CV
Trial case No. E182-994

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