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IA-07-97
In the Matter of the Interest Arbitration Between KLAMATH COUNTY PEACE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION and KLAMATH COUNTY. IA-07-97
 
INTEREST ARBITRATION AWARD
 
This matter came for hearing pursuant to ORS 2436742 - 243.756
 
and relevant administrative rules. The Arbitrator, mutually selected by the parties, complied with statutory requirements as well as administrative directives of OAR 115-40-015 in hearing and deciding the instant dispute. A hearing was held on March 18, 1998, in Klamath Falls, Oregon, at which time the parties presented such testimony, exhibits and other evidence as was relevant to the dispute. The parties submitted post-hearing briefs, and the record was closed on May 2, 1998. The parties agreed to an extension to postmark dated no later than June 15, 1998, for the issuance of the Award.
 
BACKGROUND:
 
Klamath County, hereinafter referred to as the County, is a County in southern Oregon with a population of 61,200. Klamath County Peace Officers' Association, hereinafter referred to as the Association, is a labor organization representing employees in the Sheriff's Office in the following classifications: Patrol Deputy, Corrections Officers, Clerk I (Record Clerk and/or Jail Clerk) , Clerk II, Civil Deputy, Senior Civil Deputy, and Corrections Nurse. The County and the Association were parties to a three and one-half year collective bargaining agreement which expired on December 31, 1996.
 
The County, in addition to the Officers' Association, has a collective bargaining relationship and contracts with the following labor organizations representing non-supervisory employees:
 
Laborers' Union Local 21 - contract effective January 1, 1998 -
 
December 31, 2000
 
Oregon Nurses Association contract effective January 1, 1998 -
 
December 31, 2000
 
Operating Engineers' Union, Local 201 - contract effective January 1,
 
1997 - December 31, 1999
 
Additionally, the County is party to a collective bargaining agreement with a supervisory unit of sergeants in the County Sheriff's Office. It has an effective term of January 1, 1997 - June 30, 1999.
 
The instant interest arbitration is to determine the terms of a successor agreement to the parties' July 1, 1993 - December 31, 1996 agreement. The Union proposes a four year agreement and the County a five year agreement. The Union and County Last Best- Offers (LBO) are attached as Appendix A and Appendix B, respectively.
 
The parties have initiated proposals in the following areas:
 
Union: Article 18 - Vacations
 
Article 19 - Administration of Salary Plan (Wages)
 
Article 24 - Insurance
 
Article 37 - Term of the Agreement
 
County: Article 11 - Working Out of Classification
 
Article 17.1 - Sworn Officer Holidays
 
Article 18 - Vacations
 
Article 19 - Administration of Salary Plan (Wages)
 
Article 24 - Insurance
 
Article 37 - Term of the Agreement
 
All other provisions of the collective bargaining agreement have been agreed to and are not in dispute.
 
STIPULATIONS OF THE PARTIES:
 
At the arbitration hearing the parties, pursuant to ORS 243. 746 (3) , changed their last best offers. The parties stipulated that the Union's LBO could be changed to specifically reflect a four year agreement in Article 37 and that the County's Article 24 proposal could be changed to correctly provide health, medical and dental coverage through December 31, 2001 instead of December 31, 2000.
 
STATUTORY FRAMEWORK:
 
The State of Oregon first passed a public sector labor relations statute in 1973. In 1995, the Oregon legislature revised the existing statute and substantially changed the interest arbitration section by Senate Bill 750. In short, Senate Bill 750 changed interest arbitration from issue-by-issue to last best offer. Thus, arbitrators are now required to select the last best offer package of one of the parties on all matters in dispute; each issue can no longer be decided on its own but rather must be considered as part of the total package. Also, Senate Bill 750 changed the importance of the criteria by making "the interest and welfare of the public" the primary criterion with which arbitrators are to measure the reasonableness of each party's total package offer.
 
ORS 243.748(4) states that:
 
243.746 Selection of arbitrator; arbitration procedure; last best offers; bases for findings and opinions; sharing arbitration costs.
 
(4) . . . Arbitrators shall base their findings and opinions on these criteria giving first priority to paragraph (a) of this subsection and secondary priority
 
to subsections (b) to (h) of this subsection as follows:
 
(a) The interest and welfare of the public.
 
(b) The reasonable financial ability of the unit of government to meet the costs of the proposed contract giving due consideration and weight to the other
 
services, provided by, and other priorities of, the unit of government as determined by the governing body. A reasonable operating reserve against future contingencies, which does not include funds in contemplation of settlement of the labor dispute, shall not be considered as available toward a settlement.
 
(c) The ability of the unit of government to attract and retain qualified personnel at the wage and benefit levels provided.
 
(d) The overall compensation presently received by the employees, including direct wage compensation, vacations, holidays and other paid excused time, pensions, insurance, benefits, and all other direct or indirect monetary benefits received.
 
(e) 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 within Oregon. Not withstanding the provisions of this paragraph, the following additional definitions of "comparable" apply in the situations described as follows;
 
(A) For any city with a population of more than 325,000, "comparable" includes comparison to out-of -state cities of the same or similar size;
 
(B) For counties with a population of more than 400,000, "comparable" includes comparison to out-of -state counties of the same or similar size; and
 
(C) For the State of Oregon, "comparable" includes comparison to other states.
 
(f) The CPT-All Cities Index, commonly known as the cost of living.
 
(g) The stipulations of the parties.
 
(h) Such other factors, consistent with paragraphs (a) to (g) of this subsection as are traditionally taken into consideration in the determination of wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. However, the arbitrator shall not use such other factors, if in the judgment of the arbitrator, the factors in paragraphs (a) to (g) of this subsection provide sufficient evidence for an award.
 
While the interest and welfare of the public is made the primary criterion, there is no statutory definition of same or legislative history helpful in this regard.
 
I have read almost all, if not all, of the interest arbitration awards issued under the revised interest arbitration law and if nothing else one thing can be said with certainty there is no developing case law as to the meaning of the criterion "the interest and welfare of the public." All agree the term is nebulous and hard to define. Almost all agree that it is in the best interest and welfare of the public to have an employee force that is fairly paid, for morale purposes, and an Employer who can maintain a work force that meets its taxpayer needs and is within the taxpayers financial ability to pay. It seems, in the final analysis, while arbitrators give first priority to "the interest and welfare of the public," they apply the secondary criteria in determining same or simply decide the case on secondary criteria when the primary criterion, standing alone, is not determinative.
 
Arbitrator Carlton J. Snow stated:
 
In conclusion, there is no basis in S.B. 750 nor judicial decisions nor arbitral literature for concluding that "the interest and welfare of the public" criterion provides a determinative factor standing alone for resolving a dispute pursuant to S.B. 750. It is to be given first priority in conjunction with secondary criteria. (See Oregon Public Employees Union, Local 503 and State of Oregon (OSCI Security Staff), p. 9, 3/96)
 
Arbitrator William P. Bethke in the Association of Oregon Corrections Employees and State of Oregon, 2/96 case after a thorough analysis of the statutory charge concluded:
 
. . . the Arbitrator finds little guidance that would make "the public interest and welfare a precept distinguishing between the two proposals here . . . . "the public interest and welfare" is too debateable (sic) a concept, standing on its own, to dictate the outcome of this case. The Arbitrator will, therefore, turn to the statute's secondary criteria. As the discussion to this point has indicated, however, "the public interest and welfare," as embedded in binding public enactments, may remain relevant by ruling out certain arguments made by the parties.
 
Arbitrator Russ R. Runkel concluded:
 
Due to the statute's distinction between "primary" (paragraph (a)) and "secondary" (paragraphs (b) to (h)) criteria, it is important to avoid the temptation to simply pick and choose from the secondary criteria and
 
make them part of the primary criterion, Thus, I reject the temptation to take such criteria as "financial ability" (paragraph (b)) and "comparability" (paragraph (e)), which are secondary criteria, and elevate them to the status of primary criteria. To do so would make some criteria, and not others, perform double duty as both primary and secondary criteria. It also would, in effect, be unfaithful to the statute because the Legislative Assembly quite clearly knew how to divide the list of criteria between "primary" and "secondary," and it chose not to place any of the criteria in paragraphs (a) to (h) in the category of "primary."
 
Finally, I will offer the view that "interest and welfare of the public" requires that an arbitrator examine the entire case from the viewpoint of what is in the interest and welfare of "the public" rather than what is in the interest and welfare of the immediate parties. That means to consider the interest and welfare of the residents, property owners, voters, taxpayers, and recipients of police services, as distinct from the interests of the Association as an entity and the interests of the City as an entity. Thus, it may well be that the criteria in paragraphs (b) to (h) are relevant in a paragraph (ci) analysis, but those criteria are examined with a view to the interest and welfare of the public rather than the interest and welfare of the City and the Association. (City of Springfield and Springfield Police Association, pp. 8-9, 2/97)
 
Arbitrator Timothy D. W. Williams concluded:
 
The Arbitrator begins his analysis of the parties' wage-rate dispute by considering the parties' proposals and arguments in terms of the criteria specified in ORS 243.746 (4), The first criterion, specified in subsection (a) ,is the "interest and welfare of the public." As noted by both parties, this factor, which the statute mandates be given the most weight in the arbitrator's decision, is inextricably linked to one or more of the secondary criteria [subsections (a) through (h)] provided in the statue. In the case of the instant dispute, the County's ability or inability to fund the Union's proposal, the wages paid in comparable counties, and the County's ability to attract and retain high-caliber employees are the most significant factors to consider in terms of the relative effects of each party's proposal on the interest and welfare of the public." For this reason, the Arbitrator will evaluate the "interest and welfare of the public" criterion only after the secondary criteria have been considered. (Malheur County, Oregon and Oregon Public Employees Union, p. 16, 5/97)
 
Arbitrator Katrina 1. Boedecker citing Arbitrator Stratton concluded:
 
Arbitrator Richard M. Stratton wrote in Multnomah County and Multnomah County Correction Officers Association, (Stratton, 1988). "The interest and welfare of the public is best served with competent, effective, and well-motivated officers operating the county detention facilities. In other words, the costs should be reasonable to the tax payer and fair to the employee." Along this same philosophy, Arbitrator George Lehieitner stated: "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 crea financial obligation" in Winston-Dillard Fire District and IAFF (Lehleitner, 1995).
 
Of all the case citations submitted by the association for guidance in defining the "interest and welfare of the public", Arbitrator Stratton's balancing test of "reasonable to the tax payer" and "fair to the employee" is the most erudite approach. The most neutral, balanced result would be achieved it the interest arbitrator could test each party's position on each individual issue. Given that the legislature has directed that the whole last best offers be considered, however, the packages will be submitted to the balancing test in their entirety. (The City of Grants Pass and The Grants Pass Police Association pp. 8-9, 6/97)
 
Finally, Arbitrator Cathrine Harris concluded:
 
Although the decision in this matter must ultimately turn on which of the two packages better serves the "interest and welfare of the public," this issue cannot be finally resolved without a full consideration of all of the listed secondary criteria. After the Arbitrator has considered all of the secondary criteria, the final outcome must still be judged in terms of its impact on
 
the public interest and welfare. (Lincoln City and Lincoln City Police Employees Association, p. 11, 7/97)
 
The undersigned in the instant case like most before him agree that the interest and welfare of the public is hard to define and in most cases, including here, secondary criteria have to be applied. However, I am firmly convinced that in cases where one party is seeking to make significant changes in existing language the interest and welfare of the public is best served by imposing on the moving party the burden of establishing (1) a compelling need for the change, (2) that its proposal reasonably address the need, and (3) if required, a sufficient quid pro quo. In this regard Arbitrator Carlton Snow, in City of Bend addressed the same situation and held as follows:
 
To justify changing an existing contractual relationship, one arbitrator has proposed that three factors be met to modify the status quo. There needs to
 
be:
 
(1) Evidence that the existing situation is unworkable or inequitable;
 
(2) Evidence of a quid pro quo; and
 
(3) Proof of a compelling need. (See, Fort Atkinson-Education Association v. District of Fort Atkinson, Decision No. 17103 A, Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (1979)).
 
To justify changing the status quo, each party must shoulder a burden of proof. It is not a one-way street. The Oregon Legislature has adopted a 'last best offer package' approach. Such a system imposes on both parties a burden of proof to show, using statutory criteria, that their last best offer package is the preferable one. Inherent in the legislative decision to use a 'last best
 
offer package' approach to interest arbitration is a requirement that each party either meet the 'compelling need' test or show that a quid pro quo exists to justify taking away a benefit previously obtained through a negotiated settlement.(1)(footnote mine)
 
The rationale for tests and criteria as set forth above and in other jurisdictions is simple. Stability in labor relations is essential for a good working relationship between the parties. The interest arbitration law seeks to promote stability as a matter of good public policy(2) by promoting collective bargaining and interest arbitration for essential service. Therefore, any major changes proposed in existing language negotiated by the parties must be for compelling or demonstrated need or else left for voluntary negotiations of the parties and not imposed by the Arbitrator.
 
DISCUSSION:
 
The parties agree that the primary issues in dispute are insurance and wages. This is to say that had the parties resolved the insurance premium issue and wages, the other issues, one way or another, would have been resolved and would not have held up an agreement. Accordingly, the Arbitrator will attribute the same significance and importance to the issues as do the parties. in addition to wages and insurance, the other issues in dispute are four County proposals (working out of class, vacations, holidays and term of the agreement) and two Association proposals (vacations and term of the agreement). These issues will be discussed first.
 
ARTICLE 11 - WORKING OUT OF CLASSIFICATION (current contract language)
 
Section 1. An employee assigned the full duties and responsibilities regularly assigned to an employee of higher classification for any period in excess of one (1) day shall receive a working out of class premium of five
 
(5%) percent for all hours worked out of classification.
 
Section 2. Any clerical employee in the corrections facility who operates the master control, takes fingerprints, or performs a clothed or unclothed search of prisoners shall be paid at Step I of the Corrections Officer wage scale, rounded to the nearest hour, with a minimum of one (1) hour's premium pay.
 
County's proposed change:
 
Section 1. An employee assigned the full duties and responsibilities regularly assigned to an employee of higher classification of any (consecutive) period in excess of one (1) [full work] day shall receive a working out of class premium of five (5%) percent for all hours worked out of classification.
 
Section 2. Any clerical employee in the corrections facility who operates the master control, takes fingerprints, or performs a clothed or unclothed search of prisoners [for at least 30 minutes in a single shift) shall be paid at Step I of the Corrections Officer wage scale, rounded to the nearest hour, with a minimum of one (1) hour's premium pay.
 
Positions of the Parties:
 
The county's justification statement on this change is as follows:
 
The County wants out of class differential of five percent to apply to employees who are assigned the duties and responsibilities regular assigned to an employee of a higher classification for a consecutive period in excess of one full workday; in the case of clerical employees in the correctional facility, the threshold for out of class work should be 30 minutes in a single shift.
 
The County's proposal in Section 1 is intended to grant the premiums for assuming the duties of the higher classification for a full workday. The employee who over a period of time accumulates eight hours of working out
 
of class is not entitled to the differential for a sum of accumulations. Tn the past, members of the Association have requested payment of out of class pay after the accumulation of eight hours working out of class on a number of work days; grievances have been filed to test the point, and have not proceeded to arbitration. The County desires to clarify the contract so that it will be
 
clearly understood by ail employees.
 
The County's proposal in Section 2 grows out of time keeping difficulties which arise in the correctional facility. Under the current contract, an employee can spend any amount of time (even several minutes) operating the master control, taking fingerprints, or performing a pat-down search and thereby become entitled to receive one hour of premium pay. There is ambiguity concerning whether the employee must perform a total of 60 minutes of out of class pay before receiving more than one hour at the five percent differential, or whether each request for out of class work triggers another 60 minutes of premium pay. During the life of the prior agreement, this has become an accounting nightmare which was never intended at the time the contract was bargained. The County seeks to simplify the accounting process by requiring by requiring (sic) at least 30 minutes of out of class work in order to be entitled to receive the premium of 5% times the hourly rate.
 
The Association's position is as follows:
 
The County claims that the change in practice was necessitated by the County employee in charge of bookkeeping for the Sheriff's Office. However, it is argued, neither Captain Pitts nor Captain Lawson could provide testimony regarding the current practice causing bookkeeping problems. Additionally, neither Pitts nor Lawson could substantiate paperwork problems. The Association notes Captain Lawson testified that in the ten (10) months of his tenure as jail captain he has not received any complaints by the processing clerk regarding out of class pay for the clerks. It is argued that it is obvious from the Department's own testimony that this proposed change is not mandated by any real necessity.
 
The Association argues that given the de minimis impact, this proposal impacts only three (3) clerks, this cannot be viewed as a budgetary gain by the County. The Association asks why reduce the compensation received by these clerks who perform this function with a minimum of training and safety guarantees? The Association avers that the County's proposal cannot be construed to further any of the statutory criteria. it is argued that the proposal is not driven by finances, comparability or the interest and welfare of the public.
 
According to the Association, in initial intent of paying the clerks our of class pay on a different scale than other employees who work out of class was twofold. First, the parties recognize that the duties performed by the clerks during the qualifying time (pat downs, clothed and unclothed searches and fingerprinting) are clearly within the Corrections Officer classification. As such, these functions result in a safety risk not normally encountered by a Records Clerk. The Association argues that Clerk Jennette Davidson testified that the clerks do not typically perform these functions with a Corrections Officer nearby. Given the added safety risk, a lower time threshold was created to compensate the clerks for the added risks. Secondly, it is argued, as was evidenced at the arbitration proceeding, the clerks perform these duties due to a lack of female Corrections Officers. The low threshold provides an incentive, albeit a small one, to hire a sufficient number of female Corrections Officers. it is claimed that if the County had adequate female staffing, the need for clerks to perform these duties would be essentially non-existent.
 
Obviously, it is argued, it is not in the interest and welfare of these Clerks, as well as the general public to eliminate, or substantially reduce, the County's incentive to hire adequate female staffing. It is also not in the interest and welfare of the public to alter a contractual provision on the whim of the Employer. Thus, it is argued, the County's proposal should be rejected.
 
Opinion:
 
As to the County's proposed changes to Section 1, the parties at the hearing agreed that there was very little discussion of this proposal and that the County's major concern was Section 2 and the paperwork it felt it created.
 
While the Arbitrator is sensitive to the County's concern, the testimony presented at the hearing does not substantiate that the problem in the area is as serious as alleged. The Jail Commander testified generally that there was a problem and that the County's proposal would reduce paperwork. However, Clerk Jennette Davidson, who is in charge of time slips, convincingly testified that the Clerks usually bill their time in 15 minute increments, that no one turns in their time daily, and that almost ail time slips are turned in weekly.
 
Based on the above, the Arbitrator concludes that the County, as the party seeking to change existing contractual language, has not met its burden to show a need for its proposed change and therefore, the Arbitrator concludes that the Association's position of is more reasonable in this issue than the County's.
 
ARTICLE 17 - HOLIDAYS (current contract language)
 
Section 17.1 Sworn Officer Holidays. All employees, except those listed in Section 17.2 of this Article, shall be entitled to take twelve (12) paid floating holidays per fiscal year. A holiday shall accrue on the first of each month and shall be taken or paid in the year earned. Holiday time off shall be taken or paid in the year earned. Holiday time off shall be scheduled in advance with the Sheriff's approval. Employees shall be entitled to take on one or more holidays in advance of the month in which the holiday is earned provided that the wages paid for such holiday advances shall constitute an advance of wages. The parties recognize the benefits of taking holiday time off as earned and that flexibility in scheduling holiday time off is desirable for both the County and the Association. The Sheriff and the employees agree to cooperate in scheduling holiday time off with the intent to schedule twelve (12) holidays off per employee per year.
 
If holidays are not scheduled off or taken, the County will pay the employee for unused holidays in the year in which the holidays are earned. The holidays will be paid at a rate equal to the employees (sic) straight time rate multiplied by the number of hours regularly scheduled on a regular work day. Payment for unused floating holidays will be available when holidays have been scheduled and subsequently canceled by the Sheriff or when the Sheriff and employee are unable to schedule the holiday off due to the operating needs of the Office. The parties recognize holiday time off as compensation to the employee and will take all steps necessary to avoid the forfeiture of either holiday time off or holiday pay.
 
County's Proposed language:
 
Section 17.1. Sworn Officer Holidays. All employees, except those listed in Section17.2 of this Article, shall be entitled to take 96 hours of paid floating holidays per fiscal year. A holiday shall accrue on the first of each month and shall be taken or paid in the year earned. Holiday time off shall be taken or paid in the year earned. Holiday time off shall be scheduled in advance with the Sheriff's approval. Employees shall be entitled to take one or more holidays in advance of the month in which the holiday is earned provided that the wages paid for such holiday advances shall constitute an advance of wages. The parties recognize the benefits of taking holiday time off as earned and that flexibility in scheduling holiday time off is desirable for both the County and the Association. The Sheriff and the employees agree to cooperate in scheduling holiday time off with the intent to schedule 96 holiday hours off per employee per year.
 
It holidays are not scheduled off or taken, the County will pay the employee for unused holidays in the year in which the holidays are earned. The holidays will be paid at a rate equal to the employee's straight time rate multiplied by the number of hours regularly scheduled on a regular work day. Payment for unused floating holidays will be available when holidays have been scheduled and subsequently canceled by the Sheriff or when the Sheriff and employee are unable to schedule the holiday off due to the operating needs of the Sheriff's Office. The parties recognize holiday time off as compensation to the employee and will take all steps necessary to avoid the forfeiture of either holiday time off or holiday pay.
 
Holiday time off may be bid for available holiday time off during the period of shift bidding for the next calendar quarter in the same fashion as shifts are bid. Holiday time off may be used on a first-come-first-served basis. The Sheriff may manage holiday accruals and may direct holiday time off when it appears that an employee is not cooperating in scheduling holiday time off with the intent to schedule 96 hours of holiday time in the year.
 
Positions of the Parties:
 
The two changes proposed by the County are discussed by the County, as follows in its justification statement:
 
The County proposes to state the holiday accrual differently in Section 17.1, but maintain the current level of benefit. Employees currently earn 12 paid floating holidays per year. The County wishes to express this in terms of hours of paid floating holiday time. At present, all employees are working an eight-hour shift. In times past, confusion has arisen concerning whether a higher entitlement is owed if an employee works a 12-hour shift or a 4/10 shift schedule. The County has never bargained nor afforded a higher level of holiday accrual than 96 hours or 12 eight-hour days per year.
 
Exhibit 9 reflects the history of a pending grievance relating to holiday compensation scheduling. As the Arbitrator will see, the dispute centers upon what duty, if any, is owed by employees to take holiday time off and to cooperate in the scheduling of that time off. The Union contends that the Sheriff may not manage holiday accruals and direct time off when it appears that an employee is not cooperating in scheduling holiday time off. The clear intention of the current contract language is that employees would schedule and use 96 hours of holiday time per year, and that it would taken (sic) off, not treated as a savings account or a source of additional wage income which the County has not budgeted in the General Fund. The County's proposal is intended to rectify this situation.
 
The magnitude of the problem is underscored in the documentation in Exhibit 9.Holidays are taken and accounted for on a Fiscal Year basis at the Klamath County Sheriff's Office. As of January 16, 1998, the commanders (sic) letters reflect that many employees had used none of the holiday entitlement by the sixth month of the calendar year, and most of the employees in the bargaining unit had used only one to three days of holiday time when Captain Lawson sought to schedule the time off, which decision the Union grieved and continues to resist.
 
The County's proposal clarifies the duty to cooperate in taking this time off, and provides for scheduling it.
 
The Association does not oppose the first change of converting 12 days to 96 hours. With respect to the second change, it 's the Association's position that the County has not substantiated a basis for its proposed change. In fact, it argues, County Exhibit 9 proves that the majority of the bargaining unit members were scheduling holiday time off on a regular basis. In fact, the Association claims, it shows that at least 75% of all employees has used at least the number of days accumulated up to that point. The Association argues that there is not a "severe" problem with respect to scheduling and that Captain Pitts and Captain Lawson's January 18,1998 memorandum (Employer Exhibit: 9) only refers to "several" employees who present a problem. Further, the Association argues that there is no showing, as alleged, that the current experience has resulted in any budgetary problems .
 
Lastly, the Association claims as follows with respect to its comparables:
 
In reviewing the comparable's contracts, no other jurisdiction limits the employees (sic) options the way that this county is proposing to do with 15 employees. Benton County provides the employee the choice of pay or another compensatory day, to be scheduled at the employee's option (Article 11). Clatsop County provides employee with one and one-half times the number of hours worked on the holiday to be scheduled off at the mutual agreement of the employee and his supervisor. (Article 6). Columbia County allows the employee to schedule time off on a day that is mutually convenient to the employer and the employee. (Article 4). Coos County requires scheduling at a mutually convenient time. (Article 19). Dechutes County Places no restrictions on the employee's use of holiday compensatory time (Article 23). Douglas County requires mutual agreement for the scheduling of holiday time off. If not scheduled by mutual agreement, the holiday is automatically paid for by the County. (Article 9). Lincoln County compensates its employers in cash for holiday time. (Article 11) . Linn County has no contract, but allows 13 personal days in lieu of holidays, to be scheduled at the employees' convenience. (Personnel Policy 202.060). Polk County allows its employees to use holiday time at the employee's convenience, so long as it is within sixty days of the accrual of the holiday, otherwise the holiday is cashed out. (Article 20). Umatilla County treats holiday comp time as regular compensatory time off if the employee does not elect to take a day off in the same week as the holiday. (Article 14). Yamhill County pays its employees for all holidays. (Article 7).
 
The Association argues that none of the comparables exert the level of control the County is proposing here. It is argued that absent any compelling reason to change, it is in the best interest and welfare of the Public to accept a proposal which promotes labor relations rather than destroy them. It is contended that the County's proposal is contrary to a sense of worker morale which is positive. The Association claims, given the paramilitary environment of a law enforcement agency, allowing an employee a sense of choice and control over their lives in an area that is not detrimental to the safe and efficient operation of the Department is in the interest and welfare of the employee and the public in general.
 
Opinion:
 
Since the Association does not oppose the proposal change from 12 days to 96 hours, the Arbitrator will evaluate this issue based solely on the County's proposed scheduling change.
 
In this regard it is clear to the undersigned from the record that the situation with respect to scheduling is neither as bad as the County claims nor as good as the Association contends. In other words, the Association is right that a good number of employees are scheduling their holiday time off on a timely basis. Employer Exhibit 9 indicates that of the 36 employees listed, 22 had used two or more days in the first two months of fiscal year 1997-1998. Six others had used one day. on the other hand, the County has a legitimate manning and budgetary concern if much of the holiday time off is taken near the end of the fiscal year because scheduling same will inevitably require the use of overtime to maintain proper manning. Captain Lawson's January 18, 1993 memorandum (Employer Exhibit 9) indicates that at the mid point of the fiscal year, 89% of the jail overtime budget had been expended thereby raising a legitimate concern.
 
Further, the County's proposal is not as drastic as portrayed by the Association. Section 17.1 now states that "The Sheriff and the employees agree to cooperate in scheduling holiday time off with the intent to schedule twelve (12) holidays off per employee per year" and that "Payment for unused floating holidays will be available when holidays have been scheduled and subsequently canceled by the Sheriff or when the Sheriff and employees are unable to schedule the holiday off due to the operating needs of the Sheriff's Office." The County's Proposal only allows management by the Sheriff when employees do not cooperate. It is intended to clarify and carry out what the County understood the intent of the current language to be.
 
Based on the above, the Arbitrator is not particularly swayed or bothered by either proposal and as such this issue will be resolved, like the working out of class and vacation issues, by the party that prevails on the wage and insurance issues.
 
ARTICLE 18.1 - VACATIONS
 
ASSOCIATION'S PROPOSAL INCLUDING ASSOCIATION'S LAST BEST OFFER LANGUAGE (Redlined comparison with County's Last Best Offer) []lined out; ** underlined in original
 
Section 18.1 Vacation Accrual. Regular employees shall be entitled to earn vacation time. Vacation time shall accrue on a monthly basis and shall vest after successful completion of six (6) months of service. After six (6) calendar months of employment, full-time employees shall be credited with five (5) workdays of vacation leave and regular part-time employees shall be credited with vacation leave as provided in Section 18.7. Thereafter, vacation shall accrue on a monthly basis according to the following table:
 
Years of Vacation Hours Vacation Hours
 
Service Per Year Per Month
 
0-5 96 8
 
Commencing in 6th
 
year 120 10
 
[Commencing in 9th
 
year] [128] [10.66] Commencing in 10th
 
year [144]*156* [12]*13*
 
Commencing in 15th
 
year [168]*180* [14]*15*
 
Commencing in 20th
 
year [180]*192* [15]*16*
 
Employees shall accumulate no more than 3670 hours (two (2) years of vacation accrual at any one time.
 
ARTICLE 18.1 - VACATIONS
 
COUNTY'S LAST BEST OFFER (Redlined comparison with current contract) []lined out; ** underlined in original
 
Section 18.1 Vacation Accrual. Regular employees shall be entitled to earn vacation time. Vacation time shall accrue on a monthly basis and shall vest after successful completion of six (6) months of service. After six (6) calendar months of employment, full-time employees shall be credited with five (5) workdays of vacation leave and vacation leave as provided in Section 18.7. Thereafter, vacation shall accrue on a monthly basis according to the following table:
 
Years of Vacation Hours Vacation Hours
 
Service Per Year Per Month
 
0-5 Years 96 8
 
Commencing in 6th
 
year 120 10
 
Commencing in 9th
 
year 128 10.66
 
Commencing in 10th
 
year 144 12
 
Commencing in 15th
 
year 168 14
 
Commencing in 20th
 
year 180 15
 
Employees shall accumulate no more than [two (2) years] *360 years* of vacation accrual at any one time.
 
Positions of the Parties:
 
The Association claims its rationale for its Proposal is simple. It is argued that the comparability charts in Association Exhibit 6 show those employees with more years of service lag further behind the comparabies in wages than those with less years of service. The Association contends that this proposal would have a e minimis impact on the County's budget, but would encourage longevity for its employees.
 
The Association notes that the County claims that it exceeds its comparables in vacation accruals--but, it is argued, the count is at the bottom in regards to the value of those hours. See Association Exhibit 6. ORS 243-750 requires an analysis of the total compensation of employees, necessitating affixing a dollar value to the benefits provided by an employer. The Association contends that if you attach a dollar value to vacation benefits, Klamath is at the bottom of the list of comparables, not at the middle.
 
It is argued that this proposal will not place the county at the top of its list of comparables in either the number of hours accrued by its employees or the cash value of that accrual. The ultimate cost to the County is equal to its current cost, as the accumulation cap remains the same. The County, a longer cash contingency with the adoption of the Association's proposal.
 
The Association argues that a common arbitral axiom post Senate Bill 750 has been that it is in the interest and welfare of the public to have a well-paid and well-trained work force and that this proposal is one modest step in that direction.
 
The County's justification statement relating to a vacation is as follows:
 
The County proposal is to state vacation accruals in terms of hours in the concluding sentence relating to the vacation accumulation cap. This is consistent with the hourly accumulation and accruals set forth above in the
 
same section of the contract. This does not represent a change and is intended by the County only to clarify the contract.
 
The Union proposes in its LBO, Exhibit 12, to eliminate an increase in accruals in the ninth year, and to increase hourly accruals in the tenth, fifteenth, and twentieth years of the agreement. Exhibit 13 shows the average vacation accrual of comparators and reflects that no adjustment is warranted in vacation accruals based on comparability.
 
The Arbitrator's attention is directed to the wage comparability charts which reflect that an increase in vacation is not warranted.The value of vacation accruals for Klamath County exceeds the average of the comparators at years 10, 15 and 20 for patrol deputies tor all counties except Benton (City of Corvallis in the Northern Willamette Valley along Interstate 5) and Josephine (City of Grants Pass, just North of Medford on Interstate 5).
 
Opinion:
 
The Employer's proposed change in vacations is minor compared to the Association's proposal and therefore this issue will be decided by the merits of the Association's proposal.
 
In this regard while employees in this unit are behind its comparables at the 1, 5, 6 and 9 year levels, they are ahead of the comparahles at the levels the Association seeks to improve, i.e., the 10, 15 and 20 year levels. County Exhibit 13 establishes the following comparisons:
 
COMPARISON OF PROPOSED VACATION ACCRUAL TO AVERAGE OF COMPARABLE COUNTIES, AS OF 7/l/97
 
(STATED IN HOURS PER YEAR)
 
PATROL DEPUTIES
 
COUNTY UNION AVG OF COMPS
 
PROPOSED PROPOSED AS OF 7/1/97
 
AT I YEAR 96 96 94.2
 
AT 5 YEARS 96 96 106.7
 
AT 6 YEARS 120 120 122.7
 
AT 9 YEARS 128 120 121.8
 
AT 10 YEARS 144 156 127.1
 
AT 15 YEARS 168 180 153.8
 
AT 20 YEARS 180 192 172.9
 
CORRECTIONS OFFICERS
 
COUNTY UNION AVG OF COMPS
 
PROPOSED PROPOSED AS OF 7/l/97
 
AT 1 YEAR 96 96 94.2
 
AT 5 YEARS 96 96 106.7
 
AT 6 YEARS 120 120 122.7
 
AT 9 YEARS 128 120 124.5
 
AT 10 YEARS 144 156 129.8
 
AT 15 YEARS 168 180 156.5
 
AT 20 YEARS 180 192 172.9
 
Notwithstanding the employees, favorable comparison at the 5, 10 and 20 year levels, the Association argues that vacation should be compared as to value and that when a dollar value is attached to the vacation benefits, employees in this unit are at the bottom of the list of comparables.
 
The Arbitrator is not persuaded by the Association's rationale. If the real problem is the value of vacation as opposed to the number of hours, then that should be addressed through wage compensation which determines vacation value rather than additional vacation.
 
Based on the above, the Arbitrator is convinced the interest and welfare of the public is best served by the County's proposal.
 
Article 37 - Term of the Agreement
 
Opinion:
 
The Union proposes a four year agreement and the County a five year agreement effective through December 31, 2001. Apparently, both parties see the advantages of a long term contract to promote stability in their relationship.
 
Internally, the County's contract with the Operating Engineers expires at the end of 1999 and its contracts with the Laborers and Nurses are effective through the year 2000. Externally, there is no evidence that any of the comparabies have contracts extending through 2001.
 
Given the County's proposal of requiring employees to pick up 100% of all future increases beginning 1998 and the uncertainty of such insurance increases, the interest and welfare of the public, in the opinion of the Arbitrator, favors the shorter term contract Proposed by the Association.
 
PRIMARY ISSUES: Article 19 - Administration of Salary Plan (wages)
 
Article 24 - Insurance
 
PARTIES' LBO's AND POSITIONS
 
KLAMATH COUNTY PEACE OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION LAST BEST OFFER ARTICLE 19 - WAGES
 
-Effective January 1, 1997 increase all wages by 3%
 
-Effective January 1, 1998 increase all wages by 3%
 
-Effective January 1, 1999 increase all wages by 5%
 
-Effective January 1, 2000 increase all wages by the
 
CPI-December-to December with a minimum of 2.5% and a maximum of 4% ARTICLE 24 - INSURANCE
 
Section 24.1. The County will maintain fully Paid health insurance benefits at the existing levels until January 1, 1999. Effective January 1, 1999, if the cost
 
of the Countyos health insurance premiums increase over six percent (6%) from January 1, i998 to January 1, 1999, the Association members will pay ten percent (10%) of the increase. Effective January 1, 2000, if the cost of the County's insurance premiums increase over six percent (6.%) from January 1,1999 to January 1, 2000, the Association members will pay ten Percent (10%) of the increase. Effective January 1, 2001, if the cost of the county's insurance Premiums increase over six percent (6%) from January 1,2000 to January 1, 2001 , the Association members will pay ten percent (10%) of the
 
increase.
 
If the cost of the insurance premiums increase over ten percent (10%) in any single year after January 1, 1999, then the parties may open the contract to negotiate insurance only.
 
UNION'S POSITION - WAGES
 
The Association contends that there are two main issues separating the parties in their wage proposals. The first is the County's proposed wage freeze from January 1, 1997 through June 30,1997 .The Association notes that it voluntarily agreed to a six (6) month wage freeze in the preceding contract (Association Exhibit 1), but adamantly opposes such a wage freeze for this contract term. The Association contends that the County provided wage increases to all other employees of 2.8% for the periods it is now proposing a wage freeze for this Association. Once again, it is argued, the County has provided absolutely no basis for its proposal. It is argued that the County proposed charts requiring the comparison of Klamath County to its comparators utilizing the County's proposed wage increase are inaccurate.
 
First, it is claimed, the County does not discount the actual value of its proposal by the six (6) month wage freeze. Additionally, the County is attempting to create a fiction which did not occur. Klamath County employees did not have usage of this money in 1996. They will not have usage of this money until 1998. Therefore, it is argued, the only charts which actually show the financial condition of the employees are the Association's Exhibit 6. None of the County charts reflect insurance premium payments by employees or PERS payments by employees. It is the Association's position that when these outgoing costs are factored in, Klamath's poor compensation becomes evident.
 
Second, according to the Association, the County's charts, when factoring in all comparables, even ignoring the insurance and PERS contributions show that Kldmath lags behind comparahles in its compensation of its employees. The County's charts also fail to factor in the split increases for the various jurisdictions in the1997-1998 contract year. It is argued that the County did not factor in the additional increases for Coos and Yamhill counties, thus projecting the County in a better light than it is actually in.
 
With respect to the County's reliance on Exhibit 24 the Association contends that it is misguided since it does not follow the statutory criteria, but rather, calculates all law enforcement agencies which provides a less than accurate picture of the County in relation to counties of a similar size.
 
It is the Association's position that the County does not have an ability to pay argument in that it is actually proposing a greater wage increase than the Association in some respects. The critical issues remain the County's proposed wage freeze and the structure of the wage increases. The Association argues that given the County's absolute lack of rationale for a wage freeze, and the
 
fact that it is only imposing this wage freeze on Association members, the County's offer should be rejected.
 
For once, it is argued, this Association is able to state with certainty that its wage proposal more closely approximates the CPI; is more fiscally conservative; and recognizes the lack of comparability between Klamath County and counties of comparable size. Therefore, the Association believes that its proposal is in the interest and welfare of the public, especially in light of the Last Best Offer of both parties.
 
INSURANCE
 
Again with this article the Association believes that the Arbitrator is faced with a clear choice. It is argued that the County's proposal is so out of-line with comparable contracts and will result in such an exorbitant cost to the employees that it should be rejected outright. It is the Association's position that if the Arbitrator accepts the Association's proposal, by the final year of the contract term Association members will pay approximately $15 a month for health insurance costs which is consistent with the average of its comparables.
 
The Association takes issue with the County's claim that its proposal is based on internal comparability. it is argued that the only internal comparable is the Sergeant's Association. The Sergeant's Association members are not required to contribute towards their medical insurance premiums. While the County may claim that the Sergeant's Association will eventually be required to contribute, that is currently not the case and no documentation was provided to back up this assertion. It is claimed that even if the Arbitrator finds other County unions comparable, it is important to note that the other County unions do not contribute towards their own retirement, therefore it would not be equitable to impose an equal insurance contribution.
 
The county's presentation regarding health insurance, according to the Association, misses the mark. It is argued that the unlimited cost to the employee is inexcusable and unsubstantiated by comparability. The Association claims that the majority of the County's comparators require no employee health insurance contribution. Those county's that do require an employee contribution cap that employee's contribution at a certain point or percentage. No County has an open-ended, uncontained cost to the employee as the County now proposes.
 
It is the Association's position that the County's own exhibit (i. e. , 42 (a)) shows that the net salary increase to these employees will be primarily consumed by the potential health insurance cost to the employees. Thus, while the County claims to have made a generous financial offer to its employees, its generosity is paid for by the employees in unchecked health insurance premiums. The Association claims that County Exhibit 45 is not relevant to
 
contractual analysis since it is reflective of rate increase for the Oregon Cities and Counties health insurance plan. Klamath County currently utilizes KMSB as its insurance carrier.
 
It is the Association's position that the County's assertions regarding the insurance cap in the 1990 contract is irrelevant. In 1990 the insurance was fully paid, prior to that time the contribution rate was negotiated in conjunction with substantial wage increases. In the 1993 contract, the parties confirmed fully paid medical for its employees. The change from a contribution to fully paid shows the employees' desire to have fully paid medical.
 
The Association claims that its proposal allows the County to reopen the insurance issue if premiums increase by 10% or more in one year. The Association's proposal provides that the employee will pay 10% of the increased premium costs if, in any year, the insurance premiums increase by 6% or more. This low-level cost-sharing plan provides for employee responsibility, and also recognizes the current contribution these employees make towards their own retirement plan. It would be unfair, it is argued, to require these employees to pay for both and take a wage freeze as the County proposes.
 
The County's proposal, the Association claims, would result in a health insurance contribution rate that would immediately become the second highest contribution rate of all of its comparables. Yet the County is not proposing to match the salary of the second highest paid comparable, which is paid $346 more a month than Association members.
 
The Association argues that the fact that the County is putting its insurance contract out to bid is of little impact on the Arbitrator's decision. First, no new plan has been implemented. Second, the fact that the County is going out to bid does not mean that it will be assured of comparable coverage.
 
Finally, it is argued, the Oregon League of Cities plan alluded to as an option by the County, requires a higher out-of-pocket expense per use than does KMSB. Thus, the cost will still be greater to the employee. Additionally, the Oregon League of Cities plan also shows a premium increase of at least 10% per year--continuing the out of control cost to the employee.
 
The Association's proposal, it is argued, would not prohibit a carrier change. It would just require that the integrity of the plan be maintained. Given the shorter contract term proposed by the Association, the issue of health insurance costs could be revisited sooner. The Association claims that its proposal is more in line with the contributions made by employees in comparable counties. It is respectful of the employee as well as the County's desire to control costs. It is argued that as such, unlike the out of control plan of the County, it is in the interest and welfare of the public.
 
COUNTY'S LAST BEST OFFER ARTICLE 19 - WAGE
 
Section 19.1 Salary Schedule
 
(a) Retroactively adjust the salary schedule (first step of each range, maintaining step differentials) in Appendix A, effective July 1, 1997, by making an across the board increase in wages of 2.0%.
 
(b) Effective January 1, 1998, increase the salary schedule by 5%.
 
(c) Effective January 1, 1999, increase the salary schedule 5%.
 
(d) Effective July 11 1999, increase the salary schedule by 2.5%.
 
(e) Effective January 1, 2000 and January 1, 2001, adjust the salary schedule by making and (sic) across-the board increase in wages in an amount
 
equal to the annual change in the All U. S. CPI-W for the twelve months of the previous year, not less than 2% nor more than 4%.
 
(f) In the event the cost of health insurance increases 10% or more for any calendar year, effective January 1, 1998, the parties shall reopen and
 
bargain wages.
 
ARTICLE 24 - INSURANCE
 
Section 24.1. Effective upon ratification of this agreement and up to and including December 31, 2001, the County shall Provide health, medical and dental coverage comparable to the present Coverage of Major Medical through Klamath Medical Service Bureau (KMSB), or other qualified health and medical insurance carrier for each eligible employee covered by this Agreement. Effective January 1, 1998, the amount contributed toward any premium Payment shall be made under the same conditions and is limited to the premium for single or family coverage of Major Medical (or com arable plan) to a maximum of $355.00 per month, whichever is less. Any required premium in excess of the amounts contributed toward single or family coverage of Major Medical as set forth by this section, necessary for premium of major medical or an optional Plan, will be paid by each employee. The County may apply minor cost cutting techniques to the Major Medical Plan (or comparable plan) and to adjust the medical plan contract year. Such payment shall be applied to purchased group Medical and hospital , major medical, dental, vision, prescription, group life and weekly time loss benefits under the KMSB
 
Plan presently in effect, or such other plan as may be agreed Upon with another qualified insurance carrier, as of the date of this Agreement. There will be no duplication of premiums paid under this Agreement in the event an employee and her/his spouse are both eligible for coverage hereunder. In such event, monthly premiums shall be paid only on behalf of one eligible employee,
 
the other employee being designated as a dependent for such purposes. All premiums listed in this Article are exclusive of life insurance group life and weekly time loss benefits, $50.00 per week, which shall be fully paid by the County.
 
COUNTY'S POSITION
 
The County filed an excellent and thorough brief covering 40 pages in which 75 exhibits were discussed. For purposes of review, here, I have included below the County's revised justification, statements of the two issues verbatim rather than restating the County's comprehensive brief. It should be understood however that the Arbitrator has thoroughly reviewed and analyzed the County's brief and all the arguments contained therein in reaching his decision.
 
WAGES
 
"ORS 243.746(4), Exhibit- 62, sets forth the criteria to be used by the Arbitrator in selecting one last best offer (LBO) package over the other. Factors include interest and welfare of the public, reasonable financial ability of the unit of government to meet costs, the ability of the unit of government to attract and retain qualified personnel at the wage and benefit levels provided, overall compensation presently received the by (sic) employees, and a comparison of the overall compensation of other employees providing similar
 
services with the same or other employees in comparable communities. A 'comparable"community is one of the same or nearest population range within Oregon. Arbitrators continue to look to 'labor market' factors to further
 
define comparables, just asbefore Senate Bill 750. In addition, the All Cities CPI is to be considered.
 
"The County's LBO grants to the employees a higher wage increase than the LBO proposed by the Union. The Board of Commissioners' commitment is to pay a greater wage because it is warranted by comparability (based on a total compensation analysis) and at the same time obtain the same health insurance cap as has been collectively bargained by each of the Courity's other bargaining units. The County proposes a salary increase over the term of
 
the contract of a total of 20.5% (plus compounding) in contrast to the Association's proposal of 15.5%. The County views this concession as a significant component of total compensation related to its insurance cost
 
containment and insurance cooperation proposal.
 
"Exhibit 19(A) reflects wages and total compensation as of December 31, 1996, the last day of the predecessor agreement; the chart enables the Arbitrator to see the elements of total compensation in which KlaLmath County
 
leads and lags the comparator jurisdictions for patrol deputy. For example, the last sheet of Exhibit 19(A) relating to a 20 year deputy shows that a top step with an AA degree and intermediate certification reflects total compensation at 99.3% (-.7%) of the average of primary comparators and lagged the secondary comparators at 95.7% of the average (-3.3%). The deputy with a BA or 35 BS degree and advanced certification leads the Primary comparators by .8% and lags the secondary comparators by 3.9%.
 
"Exhibit 19(B) reflects that corrections Officers lead the Primary comparators by .6% or 2.0%.
 
"Exhibit 19(C) Portrays the to primary and combined data without regard to primary and secondary comparator status, and measures Klamath County in comparison to each of the county comparators identified by both to each of the County. Based on the last sheet in Exhibit 19(C), the Arbitrator will conclude that Klamath County is at market measured by the combined group for a top step deputy who possesses a BA or BS degree (99.5% of the average is simply not a s I gnif icant- dif terential warranting arbitral intervention); Klamath County is 2.1% behind on total, combined for a Patrol intermediate. deputy with an AA degree and intermediate. What is significant is that the County leads the comps in every area of compensation except medical, and leads in salary compensation.
 
"Exhibit 19(D) reflects that the corrections officers' wages do not compare quite as favorably to the combined comps as do Patrol deputies, but even so, the top step corrections Officer with BA degree incentive lags the average of the combined group by only .7%.
 
"Exhibit 20(A) reflects that patrol deputies paid at the County offer as of 7-1 97 would be ahead of the primary comps by 2.7,% to 4.2% and behind the secondary comps by 8% to 8.3% at the top step.
 
"Exhibit 20 (B) refelects a similar pattern for corrections deputies -- e.g., generally at or ahead of comparability the Combined data reflects favorably on the County's offer as of 7-1-97. In view of the lack of comparability of Benton County, Clatsop and Yamhill counties, their distance from Klamath County and labor market differences, this is one of several charts which demonstrate the effects of the Association's result oriented approach.
 
"Exhibit 20(C) shows combined data -- again salary is at the average, total comp, driven by the insurance premium cap, is low.
 
"Exhibit 20(D) paints a similar picture for corrections officers.
 
"Exhibit 21 reflects that the wage adjustment proposed by the County for 1998 is also at market.
 
"Exhibit 22 provides the Arbitrator with what information is known concerning the wage adjustments of counties in the primary and secondary comparator group and reflects that the bargaining unit will remain at market. In light of the declining CPI it is more likely that future against the comps will be realized.
 
"Exhibit 22 (A) was added to arbitration. It reflects that the County's LBO exceeds the wage adjustments granted to other employee groups.
 
"The foregoing documentation substantiates the interest and welfare of the public in the overall Compensation of employees performing similar services in comparable communities does, not warrant a different compensation structure than that which Klamath County has proposed.
 
"The wage comparison is presented somewhat differently based upon the statewide wage for occupations related to law enforcement. Exhibit 24 reflects the following 1996-1997 annual wage: corrections officers $23,026; and police patrol officers $39,524. By referring to Exhibit 19, the Arbitrator can ascertain top step patrol deputy wages of $28, 086 for 1996, and corrections officer top step wages of $28,008 for the same period. Exhibit 1, the labor agreement, reflects the hourly wage at each step of the salary range. The mid-step, Step 3,
 
which is earned upon completion of the first year of service, reflects an hourly wage of $14.34 for corrections officers and $14.46 for patrol deputies effective January 1, 1996. This data reflects that the statewide average earned by parol deputies based on unemployment taxes paid on gross compensation including
 
all incentives and overtime is $29, 346; a top step deputy sheriff in 1996 earned $34,632, and a Step 3 deputy sheriff upon completion of 12 months of service earned $30,076, plus overtime and incentives in addition to that amount. The statewide average earned by corrections officers is $23,026; the corrections deputy at Klamath County earned $33,696 at the top step and $29,827 at the conclusion of 12 months of service, plus overtime and incentives. Thus, deputies at Klamath County are well paid by this measure.
 
"Another factor mandated for arhitral consideration is the cost of living as measured by the All US CPI. The most recent CPI data is provided at Exhibit 25. Because the County has provided fully paid medical insurance through the current date, the Arbitrator is provided the annual change in the 'all items' CPI as well as the cost of living index adjustment with the medical cost component backed out.
 
"Another factor of mandated arbitral consideration is the ability of the employer to attract and retain employees with the wages currently paid. Exhibit 26 reflects that a number of employees have chosen to leave the Klamath County Sheriff's office and have subsequently returned. Were retention a problem this would not occur. Only four in the group were laid off and recalled. Exhibit 27 reflects the date of hire of current patrol deputies. This exhibit reflects a number of employees with many years of service to Klamath County. Young officers are not joining, becoming trained, and moving on for better pay.
 
"Exhibit 28 reflects that of the employees whose employment has been terminated since 1990. Only one left to seek other- law enforcement employment. Exhibit 29 reflects that of corrections deputies whose employment
 
has been terminated since 1990, none have left to seek other law enforcement employment.
 
"Exhibit 30 reflects the actual cost to the County and the impact on its General Fund of the County's LBO proposal. The total cost in each of the years of the contract predicated on the assumptions reflected in this exhibit range from $35,518 to $91,894 in any one year, and total $289,886 in new and additional base wage compensation, exclusive of overtime and incentives. Insurance
 
"The County and the Association take a very different posture with respect to the health insurance cap. The witness statement of Peggy Anet introduced in the City of Coos Bay IAFF Local 2935 interest arbitration and the articles and affidavit exhibits enclosed therewith is as true today as it was in 1993. In the words of Ms. Anet, 'There's no question but that the move toward employee premium contributions is commonplace.' Exhibit 48, Affidavit, page 6. 'The question is not whether employees will contribute towards premiums. it is a matter of when.' Id. at page 7.
 
The County's LBO provides for an identical cap as has been amicably negotiated between Klamath County and its laborers' bargaining unit (Exhibit 36) ; as between the County and IBEW Local 701 (Exhibit 37) ; and as between
 
the County and the Oregon Nurses Association (Exhibit 38) . The County seeks to establish a countywide insurance cap of $355 on County contributions toward insurance. The premium rate in effect for January 1, 1998 is $389.15 for the enhanced plan and $352.70 for the basic plan. Both premiums provide for full family benefits. The benefit plan summaries are included as benefits. The benefit plan summaries are included as Exhibit 40 and 41. Both plans Provide generous coverages with 100% pf UCR, and $5.00 copays. The plans are subject to deductibles stated in Exhibits 40 and 41. The Board of Commissioners has Committed to a study of Section 125, cafeteria plans and providers. The County fully intends to adopt such a plan once a determination can be made. See Exhibit 42(E).
 
"The Association's LBO purports to constitute a cost sharing proposal. However, the Association proposes that in calendar year 1999, if the cost of insurance increase is over six percent then Association members would pay
 
ten percent of the premium. Stated differently, if the premium of $389.15 increased at or about six percent (an increase of about $23-35), then the members would pay $2.33 of such increase. The Association's proposal is ambiguous with respect to the year 2000. It is unclear under the language proposed by the Association whether the Association proposes to pay in the succeeding years ten percent of the single year increase, or ten percent of the total increase over a base year. This ambiguity will most certainly give rise to a dispute and a grievance. The Union LB0 is not susceptible to one interpretation or the other, and there is no bargaining history by which the proposal may be judged.
 
"In contrast to the Association's meager offer to contribute a pittance towards the County's excellent healthcare benefit plan, the County proposal seeks to increase compensation at a level much greater than the Union proposes and at the same time create a fail-safe in the form of a wage reopener in the event premium costs exceed 9.9%.
 
"The Arbitrator is able to assess the probability of consistent increases at that level based on data provided in Exhibits 45, 46, and 47. The Arbitrator will see that the Klamath County rate history reflects both increases and decreases in premiums over time. The same can be said of the Association of Oregon Counties' plan and the Western Conference of Teamster FW Medical Plan.
 
"The cost impact on individual employees of the County LBO and the Union LBO is illustrated in Exhibit 42. The Exhibit 42(A) series shows impact over the life of the contract of projected wage increases anticipated at the entry level, the mid-step level, and the top step for patrol deputies, and shows a net salary increase if insurance premiums increase six percent per year, as well
 
as d net salary increase if premiums increase 9.9% per year. The Exhibit 42(B) series contrasts the net salary increase, computed in like fashion, based on assumptions driven by the Union's LBO.
 
"The County and (sic) has approached this issue with full awareness that many arbitrators are reluctant to award health insurance caps, preferring that the parties successfully and amicably bargain a mutually acceptable cost sharing formula with respect to this component of total compensation. Where the parties' history demonstrates that they have been unable to do so, arbitrators have not been reluctant to impose a health insurance cap Exhibits 49 (A) , (B) , and (C) constitutes the documentation of the parties' bargaining history on this issue of great importance to them. 1987 was the first year of bargaining by the Association. Prior to that time, employees in the Sheriff's Office were represented by the County's general unit of Laborers. In 1987 when the Association and the County bargained for the first time, the Union sought full employer paid family medical, dental, and vision coverage. The parties ultimately agreed to institute d Benefits Study Committee, and to a County contribution of $101.06 toward premiums necessary to maintain coverage, with the proviso that the County contribution would increase $20 per year under the agreement for each of the three years of the agreement. It is significant that in that year, Klamath County paid patrol deputies nine percent less than the
 
average of its comparators, and a cap was agreed to. Over time and in spite of the County's limited ability to pay and historic status as an economically depressed County, the County has made inroads on 'catch-up' and now
 
pays a market wage based on a reasonable comparability analysis.
 
"In 1990, the County proposed that the County would increase its contribution by 50% of any increase, and that the remaining 50% should be the responsibility of the employee. The Association proposed to do away with
 
all cost sharing language in the contract and substitute fully paid maintenance of benefits. Correspondence as part of this Exhibit 49(B) reflects that on the eve of interest arbitration the issue was resolved by the elimination of any language relating to a cap at the insistence of the Union. (The Association held the interest arbitration gun to the County's head and the parties did reach agreement in that context.) Correspondence reflects that at that time, the County was paying the full premium of major medical, then $204.70. In that year, the County also acceded to a number of other Union requests, including expanding the salary schedule from a four-step salary plan to a seven-step salary plan. Correspondence reflects that arbitration before Arbitrator Eric Lindauer was canceled an or about September 6, 1990, and that the insurance article was tentatively agreed upon on the same date. At that time, the County agreed to Maintain the current level of benefit, which would not be subject to reduction during the contract. The County also agreed to pay the full cost of coverage.
 
"The issue was raised again in 1993 bargaining. The Union proposed current language which required full maintenance of benefits. The county in its bargaining notes of March 30, 1993 proposed that the Parties agree to be able to modify the health insurance plan design and increase wages through cost savings attributable to a change in benefit costs.The parties also bargained concerning a wage reopener in the event health insurance premiums increased above a threshold. Both 15% and 18.5% were discussed. Obviously, the Association viewed the proposal as a takeback and was unwilling to consider a
 
reasonable level of contribution. On May 4, 1993, in a letter from the County to the Association, the County proposed that wage increases should be reduced by a factor which compensates for the increase in major medical insurance coverage, if any. Further, if insurance premiums increase over 15% in year, (sic) or the CPT-W exceeds eight percent, either party may reopen on wages and insurance.Documents reflect that the Association's attorney rebuffed this proposal, insisting that the Association would go no further than to provide, 'If the insurance premiums increase over 18.5% in a year, the County may, at its option, open on insurance. If it does so, the Association, may reopen on wages. This agreement was adopted by the parties and reflected as a paragraph to Appendix A to the Collective Bargaining Agreement which expired December 31, 1996.
 
"From the foregoing, it is evident that the parties have bargained, and they have bargained hard and repeatedly concerning the health insurance cap issue. Employees and the Union have been unwilling to adopt a reasonable cost sharing approach. The County's approach in its LBO is reasonable. The cost data described above reflects that from a total compensation standpoint, the county's offer is more generous in every respect that the Association's proposal; the employees will not suf f er economically; and in the event of an unforeseen and significant spike in insurance premium costs, reopener language protects the interests of the employees. As a consequence of the County's proposal, the parties may look forward to an era of cooperation and collaboration with respect to selecting an optimal plan design
 
"Exhibit 42(E) reflects that the County is looking at a Section 125 plan. Tn addition, the parties are aware of the Commissioners' and human resource review of health insurance plan and provider options, and that a RFP is to be released in the near future.
 
OPINION:
 
As discussed earlier the two remaining issues of wages and insurance are the most significant and have the most impact on the employees and the employer. As such they will determine the outcome of this case. However, before proceeding it is essential to establish the appropriate comparables since they are in dispute.
 
The statute, ORS 243.746(4((e), clearly defines "comparable"communities as those "communities of the same or nearest population range within Oregon." To begin with the parties agree to the following core comparables:
 
Benton 76,000
 
Clatsop 34,600
 
Columbia 40,100
 
Coos 61,700
 
Josephine 72,000
 
Lincoln 42,200
 
Polk 56,300
 
Umatilla 65,000
 
Yamhill 77,500
 
Klamath 61,600
 
The Association however, would add the following counties: Deschutes (98, 000) , Douglas (98, 600) and Linn (100, 700) . The County, on the other hand, proposes to treat Benton, Clatsop and Yamhill Counties as secondary comparables. The County reasons:
 
The interest and welfare of the pubic is best served by placing greatest reliance on the County's primary comparators, The County's secondary comparators are larger, less geographically proximate, and are in a much
 
different economic and labor market. Benton County is situated in the Northern Willamette valley along Interstate 5 at Corvallis, and is the home of Oregon State University. Clatsop County is located in the northwest corner of the state at the Oregon Coast at the mouth of the Columbia River, and Yamhill County lies adjacent to Washington and Clackamas Counties within commuting distance of Portland and is significantly affected by the metropolitan labor market.
 
As discussed before, the Oregon interest arbitration law was changed in 1995 to, among other things, specifically define comparable communities to "communities of the same or nearest population range within Oregon."
 
Instructive in this regard are the three following cases wherein Arbitrators have viewed the statutory definition somewhat differently.
 
Arbitrator Carlton Snow in Benton Firefighters' Association and City of Benton, February 12, 1996, discusses the change as follows:
 
The original collective bargaining law in Oregon did not define 'comparable communities' to mean 'communities of the same or nearest population range within Oregon.' Debate on the Senate floor did not address this topic. (See, Association's Exhibit No. 47, p. 13). It is reasonable to assume that the change had meaning beyond the special standard enacted to cover Portland and Multnomah County. Just as reenactment of legislation
 
generally signifies satisfaction with a law, modification signals some effort to address a concern of legislators. It, however, is difficult to talk about the intentions of a collective legislature.
 
It seems more prudent to rely on guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court that 'there is no need to refer to the legislative history where the statutory language is clear.' (See Ex Parte Collett, 337 U.S. 55, 61 (1949)). words, of course, are imprecise tools, and it is sensible to resort to legislative history where it is reasonably clear. In this case, there not only is a dearth of useful legislative history; but also the words of the statute are reasonably clear. There is a deeply rooted statutory canon of interpretation in the United States that, if language is plain and unambiguous, it must be given effect. (See, e.g., Newhall v. Sanger, 92 U.S. 761 (1875)).
 
The statute states that the term 'comparable' is limited to 'communities of the same or nearest population range within Oregon.' The past practice of the parties of relying on the top ten best cities in Oregon has been modified by the new law.It has restricted the discretion of the arbitrator in terms of comparing Bend, Oregon firefighters with the best cities in Oregon and has mandated use of communities of the same or similar size.
 
In Teamsters Local No. 670 and Yamhill County, Oregon, May 19, 1992, Arbitrator Howell L. Lankford reasoned as follows:
 
The current version of the interest arbitration statute requires that comparables are 'limited to communities of the same or nearest population range within Oregon.' The Union offers an affidavit of one of the primary draftsmen of SB 750--and several prior interest arbitration decisions--arguing that
 
In limiting the comparability standards to communities of similar population, the veto negotiators did not intend that an interest arbitrator exclude considerations of factors other than population; in particular, there
 
was never any intent to exclude consideration of geographic proximity, per capita income, or other traditional factors in assessing comparability. Indeed, it was assumed and understood by the veto negotiators that geographic proximity could be taken into account in assessing comparability ...
 
What Professor Drummonds's explanation does not include, unfortunately, is any honest work for the statutory mandate that 'comparable' is limited to communities of the same or nearest population range. ' On the face of that expression, 'limited to ... the same or nearest Population range' (1) might mean that similarity of Population, and only similarity of population, is to be considered in determining comparability; or (2) it might allow the consideration of other factors to eliminate some communities as long as the remaining communities are within 'the same or nearest population range' -- which may be what Professor Drummond's affidavit means to suggest. What the plain language does not allow, on its face, is expanding 'population range' as necessary to make sense of the resulting comparables when analyzed in terms of geographic proximity, economic and population trends, and the like. Such an interpretation, it seems to me, would read 'lirnited to . . . the nearest
 
population range' out of the statute entirely.
 
That is, essentially, what interest arbitrators had always done in Oregon before SB 750: i.e. give equal importance to geographic proximity and similarity of population. So far as ambiguity in the statutory language allows consideration of its legislative history, it is possible, of course, that the Legislature did not intend the change in this part of the statute to make a difference to what arbitrators were already doing. But when the revisers of a writing add a specific reference to one factor, which has always been considered along with other factors, the intent of that addition is usually to increase the' importance attached to that factor. And when the new language requires that the determination in question is to be 'limited to' that one factor, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the intent was to make that factor the main consideration.
 
Lastly, Arbitrator Catherine Harris, in Lincoln City and Lincoln City Police Employees Association, July 26, 1997, concluded as follows:
 
To be sure, the comparability criteria limit the comparison to police departments located in 'comparable communities within the same population range within the state of Oregon.' However, the language of the statute does not provide that similarity of population is the only factor to be determined in determining comparability of communities. To the contrary, once the appropriate range has been identified, nothing precludes the Arbitrator from deter 'mining that one or the other of the sets of comparators is more appropriate due to geographical proximity or other factors. In other words,
 
population is only a threshold limitation. If a community is within the Population range, other factors may be considered; if not in the appropriate range, then it does not matter how similar geographically or economically the community may be, it is not an appropriate comparator.
 
After a review of the above and other interest arbitration decisions issued under the new SB750 the Arbitrator is of the opinion that the statutory change of defining "comparable communities" does not preclude the consideration of other factors such as proximity aInd economic condition but does make population a more important factor than others.
 
Here, the Arbitrator will not include Deschutes, Douglas or Linn counties,(3) as agreed by the Association. They are counties with substantially greater population and beyond the flexibility of the definition. Instead the Arbitrator will use the mutually agreeable core comparables of Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Josephine, Lincoln, Polk, Umatilla and Yamhill Counties without a designation of primary and secondary comparabies. However, proximity and economic conditions will be considered where appropriate.
 
The Arbitrator now proceeds to evaluate the wage and insurance issues.
 
As discussed earlier, a selection of one of the two LBO's cannot be made strictly on the criteria of "the interest and welfare of the public." Therefore, the secondary criteria must be used to evaluate the parties' LBO'S. In this regard five of the secondary criteria (reasonable financial ability to pay, ability to, attract and retain qualified personnel, CPI, stipulation of the parties and other factors) have little impact in this case and will be discussed first.
 
(b) Reasonable Financial Ability to Pay
 
This criterion is not a factor in this case. Since the County is offering more of a wage increase(4) than Proposed by the Association, the County, understandably, is not relying on this criteria in support of its position. This criterion, therefore, does not favor the selection of either party's LBO.
 
(c) Ability to Attract and Retain Qualified Personnel
 
The record establishes that the County has had no problem either retaining or hiring employees. County Exhibits 26-29 reflect current employees' seniority dates and employees (both patrol deputies and corrections officers) who have left employment since 1990 and reasons for same. There is no convincing evidence that RMIDioyees are leaving the employ of Klamath County for higher paying law enforcement positions in sufficient numbers to create a retention and hiring problem.Thus, this criterion favors the County.
 
(f) CPI - All Cities Index (Cost of Living)
 
If wages alone is considered the Association's proposal of 13.5-15.0% will probably be more in line with the CPI as opposed to the County's 16.5-18.5% for the same period. Last Year, 1997, the cost of living rose 2.2-%.(5) When the cost of the two LBO's is considered with the inclusion of the parties insurance proposals it becomes more difficult to evaluate the proposals under this criterion since insurance premiums for 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 are unknown. Given the uncertainty involved in the two LBO'S the Arbitrator is riot persuaded that this criterion clearly favors the selection of either LBO.
 
(g) Stipulations of the Parties
 
This criterion was not relied upon by either party and is not a factor in this case.
 
(h) Other Factors Traditionally Taken Into Consideration, If The Above-Cited Factors Do Not Provide Sufficient Evidence For An Award
 
Since in the judgment of the Arbitrator the factors in paragraph (a) to (g) of ORS 243.746(4) provide sufficient evidence for an award, the Arbitrator will not use any other factors.
 
Remaining, then, are criteria (d) and (e) in deciding which LBO best serves the interest and welfare of the public.
 
(d) and (e) Overall Compensation and Comparability
 
The issues of wages and insurance, in the opinion of the Arbitrator, are so interrelated that they must be considered and determined as a package as opposed to two separate proposals. separately, regardless of what comparables are used, the County's offer on wages is obviously favorable since it clearly offers more of a total increase than the Association's and the Association's offer on insurance is clearly preferable because the County's offer drastically changes premium payments from the current 0% for employees to where they would pick up 100% of the increases from the 1997 rates. Overall compensation is not determinative because in all likelihood (although there is a lack of information with respect to future increases of comparable counties) the bargaining unit will maintain its relative ranking among the comparables under either LBO.
 
Thus, given the above, to determine which party prevails the issues of wages and insurance must be considered as a package because the additional money offered by the County is in exchange for a concession in the area of insurance.
 
The real issue then is whether a 3.0-3.5% additional increase in wages is sufficient to shift the cost of insurance premium increases from the County, who now pays 100%, to the employee who in 1998 would begin to pay 100% of all increases.(6)
 
The following is a wage increase comparison of the two LBO's.
 
PROPOSED COUNTY ASSOCIATION
 
DATES PROPOSED PROPOSED
 
5 YEAR TERM 4 YEAR TERM
 
1/1/97 3%
 
7/1/97 2%
 
1/1/98 5% 3%
 
1/1/99 5% 5%
 
7/1/99 2.5%
 
1/1/2000 2%-4% 2.5%-4%
 
1/1/2001 2%-4%
 
Total thru Minimum 16.5% 13.5%
 
2000 Maximum 18.5% 15%
 
Total thru Minimum 18.5%
 
2001 Maximum 20.5%
 
To resolve this question the Arbitrator, based on the earlier discussion, will apply the following adopted test: (1) Has the County demonstrated a compelling need for the change (i.e. insurance change), (2) does its proposal reasonably address the need, and (3) is its quid pro quo, sufficient.
 
With respect to demonstrated need, the County argues that it is now commonplace for employees to contribute towards the cost of insurance, that employees in comparable communities share in the cost of insurance, and that internally other unit employees have accepted cost sharing.
 
There is no question, as claimed by the County, that cost sharing of premiums has become more and more common and that cost sharing is prevalent among its comparables. However, it is important to note that even when using what the County has identified as its "primary comparables," the County's total insurance premium of $381.50/month is the second lowest(7) among its comparables.(8) Furthermore, it is approximately $53/month less than the average of the primary comparables. When compared to what the County has identified as the "secondary" comparables the outcome is almost identical, i.e, Klamath County is the second lowest in total premiums and approximately $56/month less than the average.
 
With respect to employees in Comparable communities making insurance contributions, County Exhibit 44 establishes that in 4 of the 9 comparables employees in varying amounts are currently sharing the cost of insurance.
 
Internally, as argued by the County, three other units(9) have addressed this issue. In this regard, I, for one, agree that internal comparables should be given considerable consideration when it comes to benefits, as opposed to Wages, in that it 'is a desirable goal and in the interest and welfare of the public to have uniform benefits among employees of the same employer. However, the Oregon statute, unlike some other jurisdictions 'limits internal comparables to those employees performing similar services. The only employees ing in this category in Klamath County are the sergeants in Sheriff's office and they by contract make no contribution towards the cost of insurance. The employer pays 100% with no cap.
 
In weighing the need element to the change proposed, the Arbitrator notes that the County has attempted in the past to negotiate changes in this area but without success. However, the Association now concedes, as stated by the county, that cost sharing is the "wave of the future." The Association's LBO contains a cost-sharing proposal in that it proposes, beginning in 1999, to have employees pick-up 10% of any yearly increase over 6%.
 
Based on all of the above, the Arbitrator concludes that while the level of the County's insurance premium does not necessarily signify a compelling need for change, the fact that employees in comparable counties are contributing and the fact that the Association itself has made a cost-sharing proposal supports a need to address the cost-sharing issue.
 
Does the county's proposal reasonably address the need for cost sharing and if there is a need(10) for a quid pro quo, is it sufficient.
 
For the following reasons the Arbitrator does not find that the County's proposal reasonably addresses the insurance issue. To begin it far exceeds what is supportable by the comparables. In this regard (using County Exhibit 44) In Columbia County the employer pays the entire premium of $581.35; in Coos County the employer pays 100%; in Josephine County the employer pays $384 and increases up to the percentage equal to the increase in CPI while employees pay $31.23 or $11.70 for the two plans; in Lincoln County the employer pays 100% but can reopen if premiums rise more than 15% in a year; in Polk County the employer pays $420.85 of the $456.05 premium and any increases are split 50-50; in Umatilla County the employer pays $396.40 and the employees $110.70 and employees Pick up increases with a reopener if the increase exceeds 20% in any year; in Benton County the employer pays full cost but any 2nd and 3rd years increases are shared equally until a 80/20 employer/employee co-pay is reached; in Clatsop the employer is capped at $543.78 with employees paying $29.32 and responsible for all increases; and in Yamhill the employer's contribution is capped but in its expiring agreement the dMOUnt is sufficient to cover 100% of the premium.
 
The above clearly indicates that the County's instant proposal of employees' picking up 100% of all increases beginning in 1998 is on the extreme end of the comparables. At most, in 3 of the 9 comparables are employees required to pick up all of the increases and in one of them the employer's cap covers the entire cost of the premium. In 2 of 3 counties (Clatsop and Yamhill) the total compensation received by employees is higher than received by employees in Klamath County.(11)
 
Neither the comparables nor the amount of Klamath County's total premium support such a proposal.
 
The County's desire to get relief from carrying the full load of insurance premiums is understandable, but its proposal relieves it of all future increases and is not, in the opinion of the Arbitrator, a reasonable response to its perceived need. Even with its added wage proposal the County's position is extreme. The County's quid pro quo of 3.0-3.5% additional wages will likely be consumed by premium increases during the proposed 5 year term. County Exhibit 42 graphically demonstrates the net increases, by fiscal year, an entry level patrol officer would receive under the County's proposal assuming both a 6% and 9.9% annual increase in insurance premiums. Under the 6% assumption a patrol officer would receive a net increase of $1889 over a period of 5 years and a net loss of $239 under the assumption.(12) Under the same assumptions mid-step patrol deputy would realize a gain of $3086 and $937; and a top patrol deputy a gain of $3604 and $1477. A corrections deputy at the entry, rriid-step and top step would realize the following at the 6% and 9.9% assumptions: plus $1692 and minus $437, plus $2855 and plus $727, and plus $3376 and plus $1248. When all levels and all classifications are considered, the quid pro quo offered by the County is just not sufficient to counteract the impact of its cost shifting insurance premiums proposal.
 
In conclusion, this does not mean any change in insurance is unwarranted or that the Association's proposal is adequate. A more moderate cost sharing program of increases might well be in order but here the extreme position of the County requiring employees to pick up 100% of all increases makes the Associdtion's offer the more reasonable of the two as measured against the primary criterion.
 
Based on the facts, discussion thereon, the parties briefs and exhibits and the statutory criteria, the Arbitrator renders the following
 
AWARD
 
That the interest and welfare of the public will be best served by the adoption and implementation of the Association's Last Best Offer as amended by the Stipulation of the parties. It is so ordered and awarded.
 
Dated this 15th day of June 1998.
 
Herman Torosian, Arbitrator
 
Rhonda Fenrich, appearing on behalf of the Association
 
C. Akin Blitz, appearing on behalf of the Employer
 
Appendix A
 
KLAMATH CO PEACE OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION LAST BEST OFFER
 
Present language for all articles except
 
1. Previously signed Tas' and
 
2. Article 18 present language except
 
-delete 9th year accumulation
 
-bump 10, 15, 20 years up I hour accumulation per month
 
3. Article 19
 
-Effective January 1, 1997 increase all wages by 3%
 
-Effective January 1, 1999 increase all wages by 3%
 
-Effective January 1, 1999 increase all wages by 5%
 
-Effective January 1, 2000 increase all wages by the CPI-W December-to December with a minimum of 2.5% and a maximum of 4%
 
4. Article 24: The County will maintain fully paid health insurance benefits at the existing levels until January 1, 1999. Effective January 1, 1999, if the cost of the County's health insurance premiums increase over six (6%) from January 1, 1998 to January 1, 1999, the Association members will pay 10% of the increase. Effective January 1, 2000, if the cost of the County's insurance premiums increase over six (6%) percent form January 1, 1999 to January 1, 2000 the Association members will pay 10% of the increase. Effective January 1, 2001, if the cost of the County's insurance premiums increase over 6% from January 1, 2000 to January 1, 2001, the Association members will pay 10% of the increase.
 
If the cost of the insurance premiums increase over ten percent (10%) in any single year after January 1, 1999, then the parties may open the contract to negotiate insurance only
 
Appendix B
 
LAST BEST OFFER PACKAGE OF KLAAFATH COUNTY ON MARCH 3,1999
 
In furtherance of Negotiations Between Klamath County and the Klamath County Peace Offices' Association this LAST BEST OFFER PACKAGE is conveyed to the Association and the Arbitrator
 
As tentatively agreed and resolved by the parties:
 
1. Preamble, current language
 
2. Article I - Recognition
 
3. Article 2 - Relative Rights
 
4. Article 3 - Orders and Regulations
 
5. Article 4 - County and Association Security
 
6. Article 5 - Check-Off
 
7. Article 6 - Non-Discrimination
 
8. Article 7 - Contract Negotiations
 
9. Article 8 - Association Representatives
 
10. Article 9 - Bulletin Board
 
11. Article Io - Seniority
 
12. Article 12 - Hours of Work
 
13 Article 13 - Overtime
 
14. Article 14 - Duty and Court Call-Back
 
15. Article 15 - Resident Deputies
 
16. Article 17 - Holidays 17.2-17.4 (TA'd Sections)
 
17. Article I 8 - Vacations 18.2-18.6 - (TA'd Sections)
 
18. Article 19 - Administration of the Salary Plan
 
19. Article 20 - Travel Pay
 
20. Article 21 - Clothing and Uniform.
 
21. Article 22 - Sick Leave with agreed upon changes to KCSO Policy 5.12
 
22. Article 23 - Leaves of Absence
 
23.Article 27 - Grievance Procedure
 
24. Article 28 - Layoff and Recall
 
25. Article 29 - Probationary Period
 
26. Article 30 - Discipline and Discharge
 
27.Article 31 - Personnel File
 
28.Article 32 - Reserves
 
29.Article 33 - Safety Committee
 
30.Article 34 - Funding
 
31.Article 35 - Savings Clause
 
32. Article 36 - Use of Alcohol and Drugs
 
County-LAST BEST OFFER PACKAGE on All Articles Which Remain Unresolved:
 
33. Article I I - Working Out of Classification.
 
"Section 1. An employee assigned the full duties and responsibilities regularly assigned to an employee of higher classification for any consecutive period in excess of one (1) full work day shall receive a working out of class premium of five percent (5%) for all hours worked out of classification.
 
Section 2. Any clerical employee in the corrections facility who operates the master control, takes fingerprints, or performs a clothed or unclothed search of prisoners for at least 30 minutes in a single shift shall be paid at Step 1 of the Corrections Officer wage scale, rounded to the nearest hour, with a minimum of one (1) hour's premium pay."
 
34. Article 16 - Scheduling
 
Current language.
 
35. Article 17.1 -Holidays
 
"Section 17. I. Sworn Officer Holidays. All employees except those listed in Section 17.2 of this Article, shall be entitled to take 96 hours of paid floating holidays per fiscal year. A holiday shall accrue on the first of each month and shall be taken or paid in the year earned. Holiday time off shall be taken or paid in the year earned. Holiday time off shall be scheduled in advance with the Sheriff's approval. Employees shall be entitled to take one or more holidays in advance of the month in which the holiday is earned provided that the wages paid for such holiday advances shall constitute an advance of wages. The parties recognize the benefits of taking holiday time off as earned and that flexibility in scheduling holiday time off is desirable for both the County and the Association. The Sheriff and the employees agree to cooperate in scheduling holiday time off with the intent to schedule 96 holiday hours off per employee per year.
 
If holidays are not scheduled off or taken, the County will pay the employee for unused holidays in the year in which the holidays are earned. The holidays will be paid at a rate equal to the employee's straight time rate multiplied by the number of hours regularly scheduled on a regular work day. Payment for unused floating holidays will be available when holidays have been scheduled and subsequently canceled by the Sheriff or when the Sheriff and employee are unable to schedule the holiday off due to the operating needs of the Sheriff's Office. The parties recognize holiday time off as compensation to the employee and will take all steps necessary to avoid the forfeiture of either holiday time off or holiday pay.
 
Holiday time off may be bid for available holiday time off during the period of shift bidding for the next calendar quarter in the same fashion as shifts are bid. Holiday time off may be used on a first-come-first-served basis. Sheriff may manage holiday accruals and may direct holiday time off when it appears that an employee is not cooperating in scheduling holiday time off with the intent to schedule 96 hours of holiday time in the year.
 
36. Article 18.1 - Vacations. Modify for consistency with other labor agreements and County personnel policy as follows:
 
"Section 18.1 Vacation Accrual. Regular employees shall be entitled to earn vacation time. Vacation time shall accrue on a monthly basis and shall vest after successful completion of six (6) months of service. After six (6) calendar months of employment, full-time employee shall be credited with five (5) workdays of vacation leave and regular part-time employee shall be credited with vacation leave as provided in Section 18.7. Thereafter, vacation shall accrue on a monthly basis according to the following table.
 
Years of Vacation Hours Vacation Hours
 
Service Per Year Per Month
 
0-5 Years 96 8
 
Commencing in 6th year 120 10
 
Commencing in 9th year 128 10.66
 
Commencing in 10th year 144 12
 
Commencing in 15th year 168 14
 
Commencing in 20th year 180 15
 
Employees shall accumulate no more than360 hours of vacation accrual at any one time."
 
37. Wages
 
(a) Retroactively adjust the salary schedule (first step of each range, maintaining step differentials) in Appendix A, effective July 1, 1997, by making an across the board increase in wages of 2.0%.
 
(b) Effective January 1, 1998, increase the salary schedule by 5%.
 
(c) Effective January 1, 1999, increase the salary schedule 5%.
 
(d) Effective July 1, 1999, increase salary schedule by 2.5%.
 
(e) Effective January 1, 2000 and January 1, 2001, adjust the salary schedule by making an across-the-board increase in wages in an amount equal to the annual change in the All U.S. CPI-W for the twelve months of the previous year, not less than 2% nor more than 4%.
 
(f) In the event the cost of health insurance increases 10% or more for any calendar year, effective January 1, 1998, the parties shall reopen and bargain wages.
 
38. Article 24.1 - Insurance. Substitute the following language, as ratified and approved by the County's other bargaining units:
 
"Section 24.1. Effective upon ratification of this Agreement and up to and including December 31, 2000, the County shad provide health, medical and dental coverage comparable to the present coverage of Major Medical through Klamath Medical Service Bureau (KMSB), or other qualified health and medical carrier for each eligible employee covered by this Agreement. Effective January 1, 1998, the amount contributed toward any premium payment shall be made under the same conditions and is limited to the premium for single or family coverage of Major Medical (or comparable plan) to a maximum of $355.00 per month, whichever is less. Any required premium in excess of the amounts contributed toward single or family coverage of Major Medical as set forth by this section, necessary for premium of Major Medical or an optional plan, will be paid by each employee. The County may apply minor cost cutting techniques to the Major Medical Plan (or comparable plan) and to adjust the medical plan contract year. Such payment shall be applied to purchased group medical and hospital, major medical, dental, vision, prescription, group life and weekly time loss benefits under the KMSB plan presently in effect, or such other plan as may be agreed upon with another qualified insurance carrier, as of the date of this Agreement. There will be no duplication of premiums paid under this Agreement in the event an employee and her/his spouse are both
 
eligible for coverage hereunder. In such event, monthly premiums shall be paid only paid only on behalf of one eligible employee, the other employee being designated as a dependent for such purposes. All premiums listed in this Article are exclusive of life insurance group life and weekly time loss benefits, $50. 00 per week, which shall be fully paid by the County."
 
39. Article 26 - Retirement
 
Current language.
 
40. Article 37 - Term of the Agreement
 
"This Agreement is effective upon ratification by both parties. This Agreement is effective on January 1, 1997. This Agreement shall be effective through December 31, 2001. If either party wishes to modify, amend, add to or delete any of the provisions of this Agreement, it shall give written notice to the other party any time after May 1, 2001. Negotiations shall commence within thirty (30)calendar days after such notice is provided. The Agreement shall remain in full force and effect during the period of negotiations. If neither party shall give notice as provided above, this Agreement shall remain in effect from year to year. Any specified Article or Articles of this agreement may be opened for renegotiations by mutual written consent of both parties at any time during the life of the Agreement."
 
1. In Wisconsin where final package offer (same as LBO) interest arbitration has been in existence since 1978 (see Wis. Stats. 111.70) the principle as cited by Arbitrator Snow has long been in existence and widely accepted. Similarly, in Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah School District, Dec. No. 26491-A, 1990, the arbitrator stated the following:
 
When an arbitrator is deciding whether a change in the status quo is justified, he/she is really weighing and balancing evidence on four considera tions: They are (1) if, and the degree to which, there is a demonstrated need for the change, (2) if, and the degree to which, the proposal reasonably addresses the need, (3), if, and the degree to which, there is support in the comparables, and (4) the nature of a quid pro quo, it offered.
 
He went on to say:
 
All four of these elements should be present to some degree and the degree to which any one of (sic) more of these considerations must be strongly evidenced depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. What is ultimately determined to be an acceptable mix of these considerations will vary from unique situation to unique situation. In bargaining, one case is rarely identical to the next. For example, if 11 out of 12 comparables have the sought-after language or benefit in similar form in their contracts, then the burden to demonstrate intrinsic need and quid pro quo are diminished. However, it the proposal goes somewhat beyond the comparable's language or benefit, a greater degree of other factors may he required. Additionally, and of course, the particular change must be weighed with other facets of the moving party's offer and the offers as a whole must be weighed against each other.
 
2. See ORS 243.656.
 
3. It is noted that in the Deschutes County Sheriff Association and Deschutes County, April 28, 1996, case Klamath County was not used as a comparable. My research indicates that Douglas and Linn Counties have not arbitrated under SB 750.
 
4. After four years the County's offer will generate an increase of 3-3.5% higher than the Association's. Since we do not know what the fifth year increase will be under the Association's proposal it's hard to compare the two packages. In all likelihood the County's five year package will still be greater than the Association's but it is also likely that the 3-3.5% gap will be reduced.
 
5. County Exhibit 25.
 
6. The County proposal does contain a reopener if premiums increase 10% or more in a year but said reopener is for wages only and not insurance. Thus, the Association may attempt to gain an increase in wages if the threshold is met but cannot bargain to change the contractual premium contribution.
 
7. Coos County is lowest at $368.25 per month.
 
8. Revised County Exhibit 20A.
 
9. The Laborers' Union, Operating Engineers and Nurses Association. Both the Laborers' Union and Nurses Association have a right to reopen the insurance section "if premiums for the Basic Family Plan exceeds $355/month." The Operating Engineers Union has the right to reopen bargaining "if the employee contribution exceeds $20.00 per month upon the July 1, 1998 renewal of the Basic Plan."
 
10. Since the County's proposal is not strongly supported by its comparables, a sufficient quid pro quo is needed.
 
11. The County argues that it has already contacted other carriers for insurance which very well may help keep insurance premium costs down. It is rioted, however, that as testified to by the County's Director of Human Resources these same options now being considered are available to the County now with the status quo language as long as the benefits are maintained.
 
The City has also proposed a Section 125 plan for the benefit of its employees. While such a plan is desirable, it just does not lessen the impact of the County's proposal significantly.
 
12. While it is uncertain what the actual premium increases will be, a 6% assumption is a fairly moderate assumption.