MPPOA statement on proposed arbitration changes
June 20, 2020

(St. Paul, Minn.) – In response to today’s statement from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and others regarding their support for changes to public employee arbitration, MPPOA Executive Director Brian Peters made the following statement:
“Public safety officials share the goal of improving community trust in order to best protect and serve. In addition, public safety officials want and deserve accountability and as well as fair treatment.
“This proposed change to only one type of public employee union does not address the core issue of improving trust and simply erodes worker protection and due process.
“It’s important to note that police chiefs are responsible for hiring decisions, training, and have the full authority to hire and fire officers. For example, the Minneapolis Police Federation (the local union) has not been part of these activities. In addition, the Mayor and City Council have agreed, by vote, to every labor agreement which includes binding arbitration, and they can negotiate changes.
“The system of workplace justice – which is closely akin to our criminal justice system in many respects – requires that all public employees, even police officers, have the opportunity to contest discipline before a neutral third-party.”
Research done with statistics provided by the Bureau of Mediation Services and given to the “Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters Working Group” shows that from 2006-2019,
  • There were 67 arbitration awards involving the termination of a law enforcement officer. In these cases, termination was upheld in 37 (55.2%).
  • During the same period, there were arbitration awards issued and reported on the BMS website in 421 termination cases for all other types of employees. In these cases, termination was upheld in 223 (52.9%).
  • Conclusion: Arbitrators sustain the termination of law enforcement officers at a slightly higher rate than for other types of employees.

Further: in 14 years, there have been only three cases involving serious on-duty misconduct (excessive force and untruthfulness) in which the arbitrator sustained the charges upon which termination was based but imposed lesser discipline. This does not support the perception that the arbitration system is broken or the supposition that peace officers should have lesser rights than other public employees.