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IA-07-95
In The Matter of Arbitration Between International Association of Firefighters, Local 2091 and Winston-Dillard Fire District #5. IA-07-95
 
I. INTRODUCTION
 
The undersigned was selected as Interest Arbitrator by the International Association of Firefighters, Local 2091 (Union) and Winston-Dillard Fire District #5 (District). The selection was made in accordance with ORS 243.746, as amended by Senate Bill (SR) 750 and OAR 115-40-015, as amended by temporary rules of the Oregon Employment Relations Board (ERB) effective August 1, 1995.(1)
 
A hearing was held before the undersigned Interest Arbitrator on August 16, 1995 in Winston, Oregon. The Union was represented by Michael J. Tedesco, Attorney at Law and the District by C. Akin Blitz, Attorney at Law. Both sides were afforded a full opportunity to make verbal and written presentations on the issues in dispute, In addition, the parties were permitted to submit supplemental post hearing documents to clarify several exhibits. The arbitrator informed the parties that he reserved the right to officially notice and consider any changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) , which may occur between the close of the hearing and the issuance of an award. Neither side objected. The hearing was closed upon the receipt of supplemental documents on September 1, 1995.
 
II. ISSUES AND METHOD OF ANALYSIS
 
There are three (3) issues in dispute; namely, Insurance (Art 10) , Salary (Art 12) and Fire Medic Pay (Art 15). They are all economic.
 
The SB 750 amendments have fundamentally changed the manner in which an Interest Arbitrator analyzes the evidence in an interest arbitration proceeding. More specifically, arbitrators no longer analyze the proposals of each side on an issue by issue basis and then make separate awards on each issue in dispute. Now, they adopt or reject the entire packages presented by each side and explain their rationale for doing so.
 
In view of the foregoing changes in an Interest Arbitrator's mandate after SB 750, my approach will be to summarize the economic packages proposed by each side and then analyze each of them an a package. Fortunately for me, the parties have made my job less difficult by doing a commendable job of narrowing the issues in dispute.
 
1. The Union's Package
 
The Union's proposals with respect to the three (3) issues in dispute are as follows:
 
A. Insurance (Art 10)
 
(1) Effective July 1, 1995 the District shall pay 95% of the premiums for group health insurance covering employees and their families. The provider will be mutually agreed upon by the District and the Union.
 
B. Salary (Art 12)
 
(1) Year 1- Salary steps increase by $50.00
 
(2) Year 2 - 3.5% across the board
 
(3) Year 3 - 6% across the board.(2)
 
C. Medic Pay (Art 15)
 
(1) Fire Medic Intermediate 5% of Engineer rate
 
(2) Fire Medic Paramedic 7.5% of Engineer rate
 
The Union's arguments are summarized as follows:
 
(1) The size of the actual fire district is deceiving. While the primary service area is 60 square miles, the actual area served by the district's emergency medical service is 350 square miles as of July 18, 1995. This will place additional demands on the bargaining unit employees providing emergency medical service.
 
(2) The number of visitors to the area has increased by 825% since 1984. This increase has had a significant impact on the amount of ambulance services provided by the bargaining unit firefighters. Moreover, this area has received a large influx of retirees in recent years. The predictable result has been a significant increase in what is expected of the district in terms of emergency medical responses.
 
(3) The actual call volume has increased from 776 in 1990 to more than 1000 in 1995. This is particularly true of EMS calls and mutual aid responses as a result of the expanded service area.
 
(4) The cost of the Union's proposal is by no means excessive. More specifically, over the term of a three (3) year contract the total increase in cost to the- District inclusive of salary, longevity pay, insurance, EMT, PERS pick up and fixed costs is only $94,500.00. Moreover, the total percentage increases are 5.3%, 3.5% and 5.7% for the three (3) years of the new agreement. The District is easily able to cover these increases out of its cash reserves.
 
(5) The cost difference between the Union's economic proposal and that of the District over the term of a three (3) year agreement is approximately $37,858.00. This is not a significant difference. Again, the District has ample reserves to cover this relatively insignificant difference in costs.
 
(6) A review of the District's fund balances for all accounts from 1985 to 1994 reveals that the district has maintained healthy balances in most accounts. More specifically, the total fund balances as of 1994 were in excess of $225,000.00. When these balances are compared to the need for approximately $10,000.00 a year to fund the difference between the Union and the district proposals it becomes apparent that the district is more than able to cover this amount.
 
(7) The total fund balance as a percentage of revenue is another telling figure. In this district the figure is 21.9% as of 1994. Even taking into account the mandate under SB 750 to protect operating reserves against future contingencies, it is apparent that the district has enough reserves on hand to cover the difference in costs between the Union's proposal and that of the District.
 
(8) A comparison of actual and budgeted figures for 1995 shows that the District came in $17,1754.46 under budget for overtime expenditures. This item in and of itself would be more than enough to cover the difference in costs represented by the Union'5 proposal for 1995-96.
 
(9) Under SB 750 interest arbitrators are supposed to consider the ability of an employer to recruit and retain qualified employees at the wage and benefit levels provided. From 1984 through 1994 five (5) employees have left this department. Four (4) of the five (5) left for financial reasons.
 
(10) The most comparable jurisdictions for purposes of doing a comparability study are similarly sized departments in the same geographical area. Thus the first set of comparators suggested by the Union consists of Southern Oregon departments that operate in the same labor market. Those departments are Jackson County District #3, Roseburg, Medford, Douglas County District #2, Ashland, Coos Bay, Klamath Falls District #1 and Jackson County District #1. Top step firefighter wage rates in Winston-Dillard are 21% below the average of these comparators. Clearly, a significant amount of "catch up" is warranted.
 
(11) An alternative set of comparators offered by the Union are departments with eight (8) or more employees located in communities with d population ranging from 7,500 to 15,000. Winston-Dillard with a population of 10,000 falls squarely in the middle of this grouping. The comparators in this grouping are: Astoria, Baker, Central Point, Coos Bay, Cottage Grove, Estacada, Forest Grove, Hermiston, Jackson County #5, LeGrande, North Bend, Pendleton, Redmond, St. Helens and The Dalles. A top step firefighter in Winston-Dillard is 15% below the average of this grouping. Thus it is clear that whichever group of comparables is used, firefighters in Winston-Dillard are far behind. The Union's proposal is a modest attempt to pay reasonable adjustments to firefighters and provide some wage catch up in the final year of the agreement.
 
(12) As indicated previously, EMT services are being expanded in this community and more is being expected of bargaining unit firefighters providing such services. Moreover, changes in EMT certification levels have meant more required training for bargaining unit employees now certified as EMT- Intermediates (EMT-T I s) and EMT-Paramedics (EMT-P I s) . These employees should be compensated accordingly.
 
(13) Currently, the District has five (5) bargaining unit employees with Intermediate (I) certification and six (6) with Paramedic (P) certification. Many of the comparable departments in Southern Oregon don't provide the same level of emergency medical service. However, of those that do the Union's proposed premiums for EMT-I's and EMT-P's are comparable with what the comparator departments provide. Moreover, a comparison of wage rates with EMT-I and EMT-P factored in as against those paid by comparable Southern Oregon jurisdictions reveals that the District's compensation package is 17% to 18% behind. Even with the Union's EMT proposal factored in, compensation for eligible Winston-Dillard employees will remain 12% to 13% behind.
 
(14) A comparison of the District's wage rates with EMT pay factored in as against other departments statewide within the 7,500 to 15,000 population range yields similar results, i.e., employees in Winston-Dillard are 12% to 13% behind.
 
(15) In comparing the total compensation paid by the Winston-Dillard department against that paid by comparable districts, the Union has limited its analysis to relevant factors that are measurable; namely, wages and EMT pay. Other factors such as Grass Rig premiums, which are unique to Medford and overtime, which is insignificant and difficult to compare, should not be considered. Moreover, it is improper to compare differences between employers for fixed costs such as PERS because the benefit received by bargaining unit employees is the same in all cases.
 
(16) The Union's proposal to have the District pay 95% of the premiums for health insurance is supported by the factor of comparability. At present, bargaining unit firefighters are paying $45.12 out of pocket each month for full family coverage. This is unacceptable. A review of comparable Southern Oregon departments reveals that most provide coverage at no cost to the bargaining unit employees. Moreover, none of the comparable departments require employees to contribute as much as Winston-Dillard. The same is true of the similarly sized statewide comparators.
 
(17) It is true that insurance rates are higher in Winston-Dillard then they are elsewhere. However, the more important point is that the coverage provided to bargaining unit firefighters in this District is not significantly different than that provided by other departments. Moreover, the firefighters in this department have cooperated with the District by taking steps to reduce the cost of insurance.
 
(18) Inasmuch as firefighters in this department are so far behind their counterparts, the cost of living factor is of limited relevance. Be that as it may, even the cost of living as measured by the CPI, standing alone, warrants a reasonable wage adjustment. What is really needed, however, are adjustments over and above the cost of living designed to bring this department's compensation package more in line with what is being paid by comparable departments.
 
2. The District's Package
 
The District's proposal with respect to the three (3) issues in dispute are as follows:
 
A. Wages (Art 12)
 
(1) Maintain current differential in the wage scale/structure. increase the base by 2.16% effective July 1, 1995. Increase wages in similar fashion effective July 1, 1996 and effective July 1, 1997 in the amount of 3) 3.5% in each year.(3)
 
B. Medical (Art 10)
 
(1) The Employer shall contribute up to $450.00 per month for medical insurance benefits.
 
C. Paramedic Pay
 
(1) Intermediate EMT'S shall receive $105.00 per month. Effective July 1, 1995, Paramedics shall receive $200.00 per month.
 
The District's arguments are summarized as follows:
 
(1) It is true that the District has through conservative budgeting practices generally been able to maintain actual, ending fund balances of approximately $95,000 to $100,000, These funds are carried over and used in the next year's budget to reduce the amount of money the District must borrow to cover its expenses prior to the receipt of tax revenues in November. Inasmuch as the fund balances have shown a steady decline since 1988, the District is not in a position to deplete these fund balances further by using them to cover wage adjustments.
 
(2) The District's projected resources are static, at best. In this regard, the District is still operating under a 1988 tax base and it has been unsuccessful in getting bond measures passed to cover needed equipment replacement and maintenance costs. Moreover, there is likely to be some further compression of tax revenues within the city of Winston as a result of Measure 5.
 
(3) Adequate funding for vehicle maintenance and replacement is a serious concern for this District. The District has been attempting without success to build up reserves in funds for replacing vehicles and equipment. Now, as of April 1995 the District has entered into a lease purchase agreement to replace a fire truck that had become very unreliable. This will create a $201,944.61 obligation for six years. Moreover, the District must replace a new ambulance and does not have enough money in the Ambulance Replacement Fund to do so. Simply stated, much of the District's current equipment such as the 1971 Ford Pumper, the 1976 Ford Pumper, the 1975 White Freightliner Tanker, the 1978 Ford Pickup, the 1985 Ford Ambulance, the 1990 Ford Ambulance, the 1983 Dodge Ram 4x4 Staff Unit and the 1982 Ford 1/2 ton pickup is either in dire need of replacement or repairs. Unfortunately, the District is not generating enough reserves to take care of these needs.
 
(4) Another future commitment of the District is going to result in a further draw down on its reserves. As a result of a recent evaluation done by PERS actuaries, the District's PERS contribution is going to increase from 7.14% to 15.43%.
 
(5) The District's accountant estimates that even without tax rate compression, tax reserves will be barely enough to cover the increased PERS contribution for 1997- 98. This is not enough to pay for the District's economic proposal much less that of the Union.
 
(6) SB 750 expressly provides that "a reasonable operating reserve against future contingencies ...." shall not be considered as available toward an economic settlement. The reality is that this district, which does not have enough in the ambulance fund to cover current obligations, likewise doesn't have sufficient reserves to fund the Union's proposal.
 
(7) This District has had no problem recruiting and retaining qualified firefighters. The truth is that over half of the employees have been with this department for more than ten (10) years. Few, if any, employees have left for higher wages elsewhere.
 
(8) The Union's proposal to pay an across the board wage adjustment of $50.00 in year one would, if adopted, disrupt the symmetry of the current salary schedule, i.e., 5% between steps. The District's proposed adjustment of 2.16% in the first year of the new agreement makes more sense.
 
(9) In costing the proposals of both sides, the District has included all relevant compensation factors such as EMT pay, holiday pay, longevity, workers compensation health insurance and PERS payments. When these factors are included it becomes apparent that the Union's proposal represents significantly higher costs; namely, $12,049.00 in year one, $12,1211.00 in year two and $28,572.00 in year three.(4) As indicated previously, the District does not have sufficient budgeted reserves to cover these additional costs.
 
(10) The District's proposed comparators are Astoria, Baker, Coos Bay, Cottage Grove, Forest Grove,, Hermiston, LaGrande, Newberg, North Bend, Ontario, Pendleton, Sweet Home and Wasco County. SB 750 requires an Interest Arbitrator to base his/her comparability study on "comparable communities" ... in the "same or nearest population range within Oregon." This means that the legislature has established the labor market for comparability purposes as all cities within Oregon in the same population range. This being so,, it is not appropriate to compare departments such as Roseburg, Medford or Springfield that are within a different population range. It is also not appropriate to limit one's comparisons to departments that are in the same geographic area.
 
(11) The District's comparators are more complete than those offered by the Union for several reasons. First, the District has in conformance with the mandate of SB 750 included in its comparisons all of the components of total compensation such as vacation, longevity, PERS, holidays, etc. The Union's comparisons are more limited. second, the District has included comparisons for Engineers and Captains with 5, lo and 15 years of experience as well as top step firefighters. It is important to do so in this department because of the proportion of captains and Engineers in the department and also because they (i.e., Captains and Engineers) are paid proportionately more than firefighters.
 
(12) The District's comparisons reveal that Captains and Engineers in Winston-Dillard fare better in terms of total compensation than their counterparts in the other departments. Moreover, firefighters in Winston-Dillard are at par or very close to firefighters in the other departments. simply stated, the "catch up" the Union seeks is not warranted.
 
(13) The cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is another factor the arbitrator is required to consider. For the last six (6) months, the All Cities index has averaged 3%. The District's package, which includes substantially improved premiums for Paramedics, is consistent with the cost of living.
 
(14) The District's proposal with respect to EMT-I's and P's is more consistent with the current contract language than that proposed by the Union. The District's goal is to upgrade its emergency medical service by offering an incentive to former EMT 2's and 3's to upgrade to EMT-P. The District's proposal is not out of line with what comparably sized departments pay for the same certification.
 
(15) The District's proposed cap of $450.00 compares favorably with the amount contributed by other departments within the District's comparator grouping. Under SB 750 it is appropriate to compare dollars contributed by the employer as distinguished from the percentage an employer contributes toward insurance. To the extent. the Union's comparisons are based on percentages rather than dollars, they are flawed.
 
3. Analysis
 
As indicated previously, under the SB 750 amendments, an Interest Arbitrator is required to review the last best offers (i.e., the packages of both sides), select one and reject the other. My analysis of the packages proposed by the parties is based on an application of the statutory criteria contained in ORS 243-746(4)(a) through (h), as amended by SB 750.
 
(1) Interest and Welfare of the Public
 
The SB 750 amendments specifically require Interest Arbitrators to give "first priority" to criterion (a) (i.e., "the interest and welfare of the public") and secondary priority to the remaining statutory criteria (i.e., subsections (b) through (h)).
 
In my view this case is not one where the interest and welfare of the public dictates strongly in favor of one package or the other. However, there are some f actors under this arbitration that warrant consideration. First, it is apparent that the District has found it difficult to pass levies. One can reasonably conclude that it is not in the interest and welfare of the public to incur obligations through wage adjustments or otherwise that will result in higher taxes.
 
Another factor to consider is a recent increase in the number of moderate income retirees in the local community. It follows that there will be a corresponding increase in the need for quality emergency medical services. The union's proposal to improve the premiums paid to firefighters providing these services and the District's proposal to provide an incentive for employees to become certified as paramedics have to be analyzed in light of this increased demand for emergency medical services.
 
Finally, it can be stated as a general proposition that it is in the interest and welfare of the public to pay a competitive wage unless the District's finances are such that to do so would create unreasonable financial obligations. While this particular department does not have a lot of extra money its resources are sufficient to fund a modest economic package.
 
(2) Ability to Pay
 
The SB 750 amendments retain the ability to pay criterion from the former laaw but add language thereto stating that, "a reasonable operating reserve against future contingencies... shall not be considered to be available towards a settlement."
 
The phrase "reasonable operating reserve" is not defined. However, I view this language as an attempt by the legislature to prohibit Interest Arbitrators from obligating public employers to economic packages that cannot be paid for out of available cash reserves. Stated differently, the legislature seems to be saying that even if other relevant factors such as comparability indicate economic adjustments are in order, such adjustments should not be awarded if the result of doing so would be to unreasonably deplete an employer's cash reserves. I will take this admonition into account in assessing the District's ability (or inability, as the case may be) to pay.
 
As the Union correctly observes, this district by virtue of prudent fiscal management has been able to maintain relatively, healthy fund balances. More specifically, even using the District's figures, the district had a fund balance in the neighborhood of 10% of total revenues in 1994. While some of these funds are needed to limit the amount of money the District has to borrow at the beginning of each fiscal year, some is available for wage adjustments and other economic benefits. In this regard even when costs for year one are carried over to year two, it appears that the cost differences between the two (2) proposals are relatively insignificant for the first two (2) years of the contract. It appears to me that the district would have sufficient reserves to pay for either proposal.
 
The same is not necessarily true for year three during which the Union proposes to achieve "catch up" wage adjustments. The impact of the larger wage adjustments proposed by the Union in Year three are particularly significant in this case because in that year the district may have additional obligations for lease payments on a new fire truck as well as significantly higher PERS contributions. The evidence established further that this District's equipment replacement funds are low and may need to be supplemented from other line items in order to cover repair and replacement costs in the near future. Again, this evidence suggests to me that the District may not be in a position to provide anything beyond a relatively modest economic package particularly in the final year of the new agreement.
 
(3) The Ability to Attract and Retain Qualified Personnel
 
This factor tends to favor the District. As the District correctly observes this is a senior department with seven (7) of the twelve (12) bargaining unit employees having ten (10) or more years of service. Moreover, since 1987, only two (2) employees have left the department; one (1) because he failed probation and the other actually took a wage decrease.
 
(4) Overall Compensation
 
No evidence was produced by either side directly relating to overall compensation received by bargaining unit employees. To the contrary, arguments relative to overall compensation were made in conjunction with each party's presentation on comparability. Consequently, overall compensation will be discussed under that heading.
 
(5) Comparison of the overall compensation of other employees performing similar services with the same or other employees in comparable communities. As used in this paragraph, "comparable" is limited to communities of the same or nearest population range with in Oregon.
 
In assessing this important criterion, several threshold issues arising out of the SB 750 amendments have to be addressed. First, the District contends that under the SB 750 amendments the legislature has mandated that the State of Oregon is the labor market for comparability purposes. Thus, according to the District, the Interest Arbitrator must include in his comparability study all comparably sized departments in the state as long as they fall within the same population range.
 
In my view, the District's interpretation is only partially correct. It is true that the comparability criterion, as amended by SB 750, limits an arbitrator's analysis to departments located in "comparable communities within the same population range. However, while the arbitrator is not permitted to look beyond the State of Oregon, except for cities of more than 325,000 or counties of more than 400,000, I see nothing in the statutory language expressly stating or even implying that an arbitrator cannot limit his/her comparisons to departments within the same geographical area. Indeed, if sufficient comparable departments within the same population range exist in the same geographic area, I believe such departments are the most appropriate comparables.
 
There are also several issues surrounding the manner in which each of the parties has done its wage comparisons. more specifically, the Union has compared only top step firefighters wages whereas the District has also compared Captain & Lieutenants with varying years of service. According to the District these additional comparisons are relevant because of the high proportion of Engineers and Captains in the bargaining unit and also because they (the Engineers and Captains) earn proportionately more.
 
The District has a point. If the Captains and Engineers comprise a large proportion of the bargaining unit, it makes some sense to consider what they earn as well as what top step firefighters earn in doing wage comparisons. However, as the Union correctly observes comparisons are generally limited to top step firefighters because the job responsibilities of Captains and Engineers vary from department to department. Moreover, as a practical matter it is difficult to do meaningful wage comparisons with Captains and Engineers because some departments do not have these positions in these bargaining units. Consequently, I will base my comparisons on top step firefighters.
 
A final methodology issue involves the SB 750 mandate to compare "overall compensation." Pursuant to this directive, the District's comparisons include a total package of compensation factors, including medical, PERS pick up, employer PERS, vacation, holiday pay, EMT pay and longevity.
 
The Union's comparisons, by contrast are limited to base wage rates and EMT pay, with separate comparability information for medical insurance. According to the Union, it is not appropriate to include costs such as medical insurance and PERS payments because the term "compensation" refers to what is received by employees; not necessarily what the cost is to the employer. Moreover, the Union contends it is too difficult to compare factors such as vacation, holiday and longevity compensation.
 
Generally speaking, I find the District's methodology more consistent with the statutory mandate to compare "overall compensation." However, I agree with the Union that it is inappropriate to compare PERS costs to the extent all employees receive the same benefit. Similarly, for purposes of comparability, the health insurance received by employees is what matters most, not the cost to the employer. The latter, of course, is important in terms of measuring the cost of the proposals and the District's ability to pay for them.
 
Based on the foregoing, my approach to comparability is to select similar departments that are within the same population range as Winston-Dillard and are as much as possible located within the same geographic area. Using this approach, I would exclude departments in larger population areas such as Springfield, Roseburg and Medford and I would also exclude departments such as Baker, LaGrande, Hermiston and St. Helens because they are not geographically proximate. This would leave jurisdictions such as Central Point, Cottage Grove, North Bend, Coos Bay and Jackson County District #5 as appropriate comparators. Unfortunately, T am unable to compare the total compensation of all these jurisdictions because I do not possess all of the needed information. However, it is apparent to me that even it the District's proposed wage adjustment for the first year is factored in, top step firefighters in Winston-Dillard are approximately 6% behind in basic wage rates. Winston- Dillard firefighters fare slightly better when overall compensation is compared with these same departments.
 
As indicated previously, the comparability issue as it relates to insurance is slightly different. At present, bargaining unit employees are paying $45.12 out of pocket for full family coverage. The Union contends that firefighters in Winston-Dillard pay more out of pocket than any of the comparators proposed by either side. On the other side of the coin, the District argues that it is already paying more for insurance than most of the comparator departments.
 
As indicated previously, for purposes of comparability the emphasis should be on the benefit received not the cost of the benefit. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that two (2) of the more appropriate comparators (Coos Bay and Central Point) require significant contributions from bargaining unit firefighters.
 
(6) The Cost of Living
 
The cost of living as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is presently in the 3% range. Anything beyond that amount would be "catch up".
 
(7) Other Factors
 
These negotiations broke down over the issue of EMT pay. Under the circumstances of this case, it is appropriate to analyze the EMT issue under the "Other Factors" criterion. However, it is important to remember that EMT pay is an important component of "overall compensation" and as such it is properly considered when comparing the overall compensation of comparable departments.
 
Simply stated, the EMT issue is a matter of principle for both sides. The District's stated goal is to compensate EMT-I's for what they do with a premium of $105 per month but pay more ($200 per month) to Paramedics. According to the District, its intent in doing so is to provide an incentive for EMT's to become paramedics. The District contends this is consistent with its goal of establishing a strong paramedic service.
 
The Union on the other hand argues that EMT-I's are providing many of the same services as EMT-P's and should be paid accordingly.
 
It is apparent that the district has made a conscious decision to have an ALS system featuring full Paramedic service. The decision to do so reflects the demographic of the local community. This being so, I cannot fault the District's decision to provide a significant incentive for EMT"s to become paramedics. Moreover, as a practical matter, while EMT-P's under the District's proposal will earn almost twice as much as EMT-I's, the latter group would still receive a competitive premium for their work and training.
 
(8) Summaries
 
This case illustrates the difficulty of having to select or reject the entire package of one side or the other as distinguished from dealing with each proposal on an issue by issue basis. Were the latter avenue still available, I would unquestionably fashion an award that is somewhat different than what each side is proposing. However, times change and that option is no longer available to me.
 
Whichever comparables are used it is apparent that the basic wage rates of top step firefighters in Winston-Dillard are behind. This is true even if the comparisons are limited to geographically proximate departments in the same population range. However, the disparity appears to be somewhat less when comparisons are based on overall compensation. Be that as it may, if comparability were the sole criterion considered, I would award the Union's package.
 
Of course, comparability is not the only criterion I am required to consider. As indicated previously, I am concerned with the District's finances particularly in the final year of the agreement during which the Union is proposing a 6% across the board wage adjustment. Such a wage adjustment, in conjunction with an earlier increase in EMT pay and insurance, could exceed the District's fiscal capability, particularly if it does not succeed in passing an Ambulance Replacement levy. I must conclude that, while such adjustments are deserved, it is not in the interest and welfare of the public at this time for the District to make such a commitment. Based on the foregoing, I feel compelled to award the District's proposed package.
 
4. AWARD
 
Adopt the District's package.
 
Respectfully submitted on this 9th day of October, 1995,
 
George Lehleitner, Arbitrator
 
Representing The District: C. Akin Blitz, Attorney at Law
 
Representing the Union: Michael J. Tedesco, Attorney at Law
 
Footnotes:
 
1. The parties agreed that this arbitration would be governed by ORS 243.650-782, as amended by SB 750 and corresponding amendments to the Administrative Rules of the Oregon ERB.
 
2. Both sides are proposing a three (3) year agreement.
 
3. The wording of the District's wage proposal as it applies to Year 2 is not entirely clear. However, a review of the District's Costing Sheet (Exh. 20) reveals that the District is proposing a 3.5% increase in Year 2.
 
4. The District's costing methodology is different than that of the Union. More specifically, the Union carries over the increased costs associated with Year 1 to subsequent years.