Bi-Weekly Pay Arbitration Decision Announced

ASEA Member,

I wanted to share with you this update and decision around bi-weekly pay. ASEA received notice today that the recent arbitration over the implementation of bi-weekly pay effective June 1, 2020 was decided in favor of the state. The hearing was held on July 23-24 and the parties filed closing briefs on August 24, 2020.

ASEA challenged the State’s use of annualized bi-weekly wages midway through the year instead of properly prorating the remaining 2020 payroll. Today’s decision from the arbitrator is disappointing and puzzling for equating ‘earnings’ (the State’s argument that two payment systems, each valid on an annual basis, can be combined midyear without question) with ‘pay’ (the State’s pledge to compensate employees, providing an annual salary while actual days and hours worked may vary). Even though the word earnings cannot be found in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the arbitrator concludes, “The use of [payday, pay, and payment] throughout the Agreement do not manifest an agreement to guarantee the amount of pay GG Unit employees will receive during any calendar year.”

While reviewing the facts, the arbitrator acknowledged the contract speaks entirely in terms of pay that employees are entitled to on a yearly basis. Yet the arbitrator ruled that it was earnings instead of pay that mattered. “There is no dispute that GG Unit employees will receive less pay during 2020 under the State’s implemented last best offer than they would have received under semi-monthly pay cycles. There also is no dispute that GG Unit employees will earn more in wages during 2020 under the State’s implemented last best offer. Parenthetically, I cannot find any reference to payroll year in the Agreement,” the arbitrator wrote.

ASEA continues to believe that your salary is what matters—what you get paid is what pays the bills. If there is a bright side to this ruling, it is that the shortage only happens once. In the years following 2020 all employees get paid exactly what the contract promises in two-week increments. Further, the bi-weekly system has a wobble (due to a 364-day pattern imposed on a 365-day calendar year) that provides for a 27th paycheck at the end of 2026 instead of the typical 26.

While this is very disappointing, I know it will not slow us down in our efforts to make sure your rights are honored under the contract. We are an organization that comes together to help each other and our communities. Please don’t hesitate to contact any of our offices for any reason if we can be of assistance.

In Solidarity,

Jake Metcalfe
Executive Director

pdf ASEA-SOA Bi-Weekly Arbitration Decision (Aug. 31, 2020) (418 KB)