8 CIR 186 (1986)


Plaintiff, |
Defendant. |


For the Plaintiff: John P. Fahey

1823 Harney, Suite 201

Omaha, Nebraska

For the Defendant: John E. Rice

2202 Franklin St.

Bellevue, Nebraska

Before: Judges Mullin, Orr and Kratz.


This is an action by Plaintiff to resolve an industrial dispute involving wages and terms and conditions of employment for the contract year August 1, 1985 to July 31, 1986, pursuant to Section 48-818 R.R.S. 1943. Defendant admits the jurisdiction of the Commission, that the dispute exists, and joins in Plaintiff's request for a resolution of that dispute. The job classifications involved are: Police Officer 1, Police Officer 2, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Communications Operator 1, Communications Operator 2, Data Clerk 1, and Data Clerk 2.

The Trial was heard by Judge Ashford who later resigned from the Commission. The case was reassigned and the parties were given the opportunity to appear before me to make oral argument. Exhibit 15 was submitted after trial by agreement of the parties and is admitted into evidence.

The parties have agreed, by way of Stipulation and the Report of Pretrial Conference, upon the following points:

1)Any wage adjustment for Police Officer 1, requires a corresponding percentage adjustment for Police Officer 2.

2)Any wage adjustment for Communications Officer 1 requires a corresponding percentage adjustment for Communications Officer 2, Data Clerk 1, and Data Clerk 2.

3)Wage adjustments, if any, may be calculated by using the average adjustment between the minimum and maximum salaries for each classification.

4)The cities to be used for comparison are:

a) Grand Island, NE.

b) North Platte, NE.

c) Prairie Village, KS.

d) Moore, OK.

e) Rapid City, SD.

f) Burnsville, MN.

g) Coon Rapid, MN.

h) Moorehead, MN.

i) Littleton, CO.

5)The positions of Police Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Communications Officer require the same or similar skills and have the same or similar job requirements as the same named positions in the cites selected for comparison.


The Report of Pretrial Conference listed the issues as being limited to overall compensation, check differential pay (at trial, Plaintiff corrected this to shift differential pay) and retirees' health insurance. With the filing of Plaintiff's Post Trial letter brief, it was acknowledged that shift differential and retirees' health insurance at Bellevue were comparable and were no longer at issue.


The controlling statute is Section 48-818 R.R.S. 1943 which provides in part:

The findings and order or orders may establish or alter the scale of wages, hours of labor, or conditions of employment, or any one or more of the same. In making such findings and order or orders, the Commission of Industrial Relations shall establish rates of pay and conditions of employment which are comparable to the prevalent wage rates paid and conditions of employment maintained for the same or similar work of workers exhibiting like or similar skills under the same or similar working conditions. In establishing wage rates the commission shall take into consideration the overall compensation presently received by the employees, having regard not only to wages for time actually worked but also to wages for time not worked, including vacations, holidays, and other excused time, and all benefits received, including insurance and pensions, and the continuity and stability of employment enjoyed by the employees.


The principal point of disagreement between the parties is on how we should treat fringe benefits, especially pensions, in "establishing wage rates" within the language of the statute. Plaintiff asks that we first compare base salaries and make the necessary adjustments and then compare fringe benefits, including pensions, to arrive at overall compensation. Defendant asks that we reduce the monthly base salaries to hourly rates and add to those figures the annualized costs of fringe benefits except pensions. Neither party requests that we adjust fringe benefits in any way. Any adjustments to overall compensations are to be made to base salary.

Table 1 shows very vividly why Defendant has a problem with pensions. Each of the out-of-state cities contributes more to the pension fund than the Nebraska communities which are limited by Section 16-1006 R.R.S. 1943.

While it is true that we are required by Section 48-818 to take "... all benefits received, including insurance and pensions,..." into consideration in arriving at "overall compensation," we are not obligated to use a cost basis in evaluating those benefits. This rule of overall compensation neither requires an identity of benefits, Lincoln Firefighters Association, Local No. 644 v. City of Lincoln, Nebraska , 8 CIR 31 (1985); nor an identity of costs, Sherman County Teachers Association v. School District No. 15, Sherman County, Nebraska, a.k.a. Litchfield Public Schools , 8 CIR 77 (1985). We are required by that section to take into consideration the entire package of fringe benefits offered by the subject employment in comparison to those provided by the comparable employments.

Tables 1 - 16 compare the available information on fringe benefits. Plaintiff's members receive less than prevalent in pension contribution (Table 1) but more hours of sick leave per month (Table 2). While Bellevue compares unfavorably in the areas of injured-on-duty compensation, other than workmen's comp, (Table 7), carry over of vacation leave (Table 4), funeral leave, (Table 6), and sick leave redemption upon termination of employment (Table 3), it compares favorably with single coverage health insurance (Table 8), dependent coverage health insurance (Table 8), cash in lieu of health coverage (Table 10), dental coverage (Table 10) and uniform allowance (Table 12). On the whole, Bellevue's fringe benefits are comparable to those of the other nine cities.

Defendant's cost approach is unacceptable here because it is speculative in several particulars. For instance, Defendant's expert calculated sick leave cost by assuming each employee would use all of the available leave. He also assumed, except for minimum police officer and communication operator, that each employee was at the maximum vacation level and held maximum longevity. He calculated the cost of health insurance by averaging the premium cost of single coverage and family coverage and assigning that average to each employee. This approach is arbitrary and may well be a distortion if each employee is not at the highest level of longevity, utilizing the highest level of vacation and all available sick leave.

In IBEW Local 1536 v. City of Fremont , 216 N 357, 345 N.W. 2d 291 (1984) the court held:

With regard to a determination of conditions of employment under 48-818, the CIR has the following alternatives: If, in the compared-to cities, the exact content of a condition of employment is clear from the total evidence, the CIR may enter an order either as to that condition of employment or find that the subject city's condition in this regard is lesser or greater than the prevalent, and adjust the "overall compensation" accordingly.

We hold that the fringe benefits are comparable between Bellevue and the compared-to cities and there is no need to make an adjustment to base salary for total compensation in this instance.

Wage rates for the same positions were given to us several different times on several different exhibits and in some instances were discrepant. It was pointed out at the hearing that there were discrepancies between the exhibits and that these discrepancies would be worked out and given to us after the hearing in the form of Exhibit l5. Therefore, it is Exhibit l5 which we have used in determining base salary. When cross checked with all the data in the other exhibits, the numbers in Exhibit l5 seem to be supported.

Table l7 sets forth the minimum and maximum salaries for each of the cities together with calculations of the mean and median for both ends of the range and the percentage increases necessary to establish comparable wage rates. Pursuant to the stipulation, the Commission averaged the minimum and maximum percentage increases to arrive at a single percentage increase, also shown on Table l7. This percentage increase was then applied to the current Bellevue minimum and maximum salaries and the resulting wage determination is shown in Table l8.

It is therefore Ordered that:

l. Base salary should be increased to those amounts set out in Table l8.

2. All nonwage conditions of employment shall remain unchanged.

3. This Order shall be effective for wages and conditions of employment for the period from August l, l985 to July 3l, l986.

4. The amounts due for the portion of the year already elapsed shall be paid promptly following the entry of this Order.

All Judges assigned to the panel in this case join in the entry of this Findings and Order.

Entered March 21, l986.