By Jennifer Gomori, MAPE Editor

A Chesterfield Township utility worker was given a pay increase for the promotion he was denied after Michigan Association of Public Employees (MAPE) filed an arbitration on his behalf.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) Employee was seeking a promotion to a code enforcement officer position. “The Employer didn’t follow the contract as far as the testing process for promotion,” MAPE Labor Relations Specialist Jim Steffes said. “They started interviewing people from outside and they ended up hiring someone from outside. It was supposed to be an internal process first.”

The external candidate was hired in August 2016. The utility worker, who has been employed with the Township nearly 20 years, submitted his resume and was given an interview. He met the job qualifications for code enforcement, which includes handling citizen complaints about violations of township code, Steffes said. However, he was not hired.

“They were going to require five years of prior police experience,” Steffes said. “This gentleman has that qualification in the military police so we challenged that they hired from outside rather than inside.”

“The qualified internal candidate should’ve at least been given a trial period. If the Employee didn’t like the job or the Township didn’t think he met their expectations, they could move him back,” Steffes said. “That’s what they should’ve done before the process of going outside.”

Steffes said this incident was a first for the Township, which prior to that had not violated the contract. After a November election in which the Township Supervisor lost, the grievance case started heading in a favorable direction. The case was resolved in December 2016, just before an arbitration hearing was set to take place.

“We had a grievance that was going to arbitration. The day the arbitrator came out we met with their counsel and they made an offer,” Steffes said. “The arbitrator was there, but was not actually involved in the settlement. She had no problems with the settlement we arrived at.”

The person hired for the code enforcement position is a retired police officer from another department and the Township didn’t want to let him go, Steffes said. The agreement reached allowed the code enforcement officer to keep his job while the MAPE-represented Employee was given a pay increase equal to the pay rate for a code enforcement officer.

“It was easier for them to keep the guy they hired in August and pay this guy the same wage,” Steffes said. “They wanted to retain him and our grievant was happy with the settlement that was offered.”

“We worked with legal counsel and the new Township Supervisor,” Steffes said. “We were able to work out a settlement that everybody’s good with. He got a nice little raise out of it.”