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International Association of Firefighters, Local 1590 v. City of Wilmington

Court of Chancery of Delaware

May 15, 2015

INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS, LOCAL 1590, Appellant,
v.
CITY OF WILMINGTON, Appellee.

Submitted: January 22, 2015

Jeffrey M. Weiner, Esq., LAW OFFICES OF JEFFREY M. WEINER PA, Wilmington, Delaware; Attorney for Appellant International Association of Firefighters, Local 1590.

Tara M. DiRocco, Esq., CITY OF WILMINGTON LAW DEPARTMENT, Wilmington, Delaware; Attorney for Appellee City of Wilmington.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

PARSONS, Vice Chancellor.

This action is an appeal from a decision of the Public Employee Relations Board ("PERB"). The dispute is over whether the City of Wilmington (the "City") and the International Association of Firefighters, Local 1590 (the " IAFF") collectively bargained for the City to pay extra holiday compensation to all firefighters for Mayor-declared holidays or only to those firefighters who actually worked on the Mayor-declared holidays.

In 2013, when the City refused to pay additional holiday pay to those firefighters who did not work on a Mayor-declared holiday, the IAFF filed an unfair labor practices charge against the City with PERB. After a hearing, PERB's Executive Director found that the collective bargaining agreement was unambiguous and that the agreement neither required nor addressed whether the City must compensate firefighters who did not work on a Mayor-declared holiday. The full PERB then reviewed the decision and affirmed, after which the IAFF filed this appeal.

Having considered the evidentiary record and papers in this matter, I conclude that PERB's decision is not supported by substantial evidence and is contrary to law. Specifically, I conclude that the collective bargaining agreement requires the City to pay eight hours of additional pay to those firefighters who were not scheduled to work on the Mayor-declared holiday and were not otherwise disqualified from receiving such compensation.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Facts[1]

1. The Mayor declares a holiday

On December 17, 2012, Wilmington Mayor James M. Baker announced that Monday, December 24, 2012, would be a Mayor-declared holiday. Accordingly, the Mayor issued Executive Order 2012-4, which provided:

On Monday, December 24, 2012, all regular employees who are considered non-essential (i.e., not required to work by their commissioner or Department Head) shall be excused from work with pay; and
Employees who are required to work on Monday, December 24, 2012, shall be appropriately compensated in accordance with Chapter 40 of Wilmington City Code and/or their respective collective bargaining agreements . . . .[2]

Thus, for most civilian employees-i.e., non-collective bargaining employees- December 24 was a day off with holiday pay regardless of whether they were scheduled to work that day.[3] If a civilian employee did work on December 24, she earned holiday pay plus twice her normal hourly rate for the hours worked.[4]

In contrast, firefighters collectively bargain with the City over their wages and terms of employment. Article 5 of the IAFF's collective bargaining agreement ("CBA")[5] covers holiday pay. The first paragraph of Section 5 provides:

The following and such other days as the Mayor may designate shall be holidays with pay: New Year's Day; Martin Luther King Day; President's Day; Good Friday; Memorial Day; the Fourth day of July, known as Independence Day; the first Monday in September, known as Labor Day; Veteran's Day; Thanksgiving Day, whenever proclaimed; Christmas Day; and the day of the general election as it biennially occurs.[6]

The second paragraph of Section 5.1 provides for repercussions for those firefighters who have unexcused absences on or around the time of the holiday. That paragraph states in pertinent part:

Employees shall not be paid for a holiday (8 hours pay) if they are absent from work on the employee's last scheduled workday before the holiday, the holiday (if scheduled to work for the holiday), or the employee's next scheduled workday following the holiday unless excused . . . . The stipulations in this paragraph are not applicable if the employee actually works on the holiday.[7]

In recent years, including under the current CBA, holiday pay (except for Mayor-declared holidays) has been incorporated into the firefighters' salary.[8] Thus, even if a firefighter had to work on a holiday listed in Section 5.1-for example, Christmas Day- his pay would remain the same.[9] If the Mayor declares a holiday, however, that pay is not reflected in the firefighter's base salary, and an additional payment is made for that holiday.[10] Sections 5.2 and 5.3 provide for, among other things, increased ...


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