PAPD sues city to compel arbitration of hurricane-duty pay grievance

By Kelly Holleran | Apr 16, 2009

The Port Arthur Police Association says the city of Port Arthur failed to pay police officers as much as it paid other city workers during Hurricane Ike.

The association filed a petition on April 14 in Jefferson County District Court against the city asking the court to require the city to arbitrate a grievance it filed.

Port Arthur Police Association says it filed a grievance with Port Arthur Police Chief W.M. Blanton on Oct. 3 over the city's 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 six, seven and eight of a collective bargaining agreement that was in effect until Sept. 30 between the association and the city.

However, Blanton denied the grievance on Oct. 21, the complaint says.

So, the Port Arthur Police Association forwarded its grievance to Port Arthur City Manager Steve Fitzgibbons on Oct. 22.

That grievance was also denied on Nov. 20, according to the suit.

On Nov. 25, the association sent a letter to Fitzgibbons through staff counsel for Combined Law Enforcement Agencies of Texas (CLEAT) and informed him they were appealing the grievance.

However, on March 12, Port Arthur Director of Human Resources Albert Thigpen notified the association of its refusal to arbitrate the grievance, the complaint says.

The Port Arthur Police Association is asking the court to issue a declaratory judgment requiring the city to arbitrate the grievance. It is also seeking attorney's fees, costs and other relief to which it is entitled.

Mitch Adams of Beaumont will be representing it.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: B183-772.

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