The State Board of Mediation and Arbitration ruled that a police officer who worked an extra hour before his assigned shift was not entitled to four hours of overtime compensation pursuant to the “call back “ provision of the collective bargaining agreement.

A police officer was asked to begin work an hour before his regular eight-hour shift, and received an hour of overtime pay for doing so. The officer then filed a grievance, claiming that he should receive four hours of overtime pay. He pointed to the language of the collective bargaining agreement that states “in the event an employee is recalled to regular duty after the termination of his normal shift he shall be compensated at the overtime rate for a minimum of four hours or for the actual hours worked.”

The majority of the arbitration panel voted 2-1 to deny the grievance because this provision was meant to compensate officers for the hardship of arranging their work schedule to be available to work overtime. The panel noted that even if the extra duty qualified as a “recall,” it was not “after the termination of his normal shift.” The arbitrators affirmed the principle that they are not permitted to revise the language of the collective bargaining agreement when it is clear and unambiguous.