The arbitration hearing regarding the Department’s removal of recruitment and retention pay was held on Thursday, March 24 at the Attorney General’s Office in Tacoma, Washington.

Teamsters Local 117 General Counsel Spencer Thal presented the Union’s case to Arbitrator Howell Lankford protesting DOC’s decision to eliminate recruitment and retention pay (assignment pay) without analyzing whether the assignment pay was still warranted due to recruitment and retention needs.

At issue is whether the DOC violated the collective bargaining agreement and/or the Arbitrator’s decision in the Interest Arbitration case when they eliminated assignment pay last July at Coyote Ridge Corrections Center, Monroe Corrections Complex, and the Washington State Penitentiary. Your Union argued that the Department’s decision was arbitrary and capricious because the Department did not engage in any meaningful consideration as to whether or not it was justified, but simply eliminated it because of cost.

Teamsters Local 117 President Michelle Woodrow also testified regarding the Department’s admission that they did not rely on any information other than the arbitrator’s decision, and State witnesses acknowledged that the Department quickly dismissed the idea of retaining assignment pay in a short meeting in June because the cost of it could not be absorbed by the DOC’s budget.

There was also testimony from DOC employees Michael Boe and Corey Laughlin of MCC and documentary evidence at the hearing regarding the ongoing recruitment and retention issues during this time frame, including the DOC’s own 2015 report regarding the Department’s ongoing issue with excessive overtime. During the course of the hearing, State witnesses acknowledged that the recruitment and retention data relied upon by the Department did not include transfers to other State Departments nor did it include data for on-call employees.

Attorneys for both sides must submit briefs by April 25. Once briefs are submitted, we expect a decision from the arbitrator within thirty days.

Thank you for your patience as this process plays out. We will keep you updated as soon as we get more information.