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Nassau County owes correction officers on the day shift back pay, a state judge has ruled. In Sheriff Officers’ Association v. The County of Nassau, 5403/07, Supreme Court Justice Edward W. McCarty III ( See Profile) held that officers working the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift at the county jail were entitled to a pay hike once they had worked an additional four hours. He rejected the county’s position that an additional seven hours of work is required. The decision will be published Friday. The county’s position is “unsupported by the plain language” of the collective bargaining agreement covering the approximately 1,000 members of the correction officers’ union, Justice McCarty held. According to Michael F. Adams, president of the Sheriff Officers’ Association of the County of Nassau, the jail’s approximately 200 day-shift officers stand to gain as much as $500,000 if the decision is upheld. The county plans to appeal. The collective bargaining agreement, signed in January 1998, provides that a “county employee, at least one half of whose shift is between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. shall receive additional shift differential for each hour actually worked, regardless of whether such hours are between 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.” The officers interpret that provision to mean that they are owed additional pay of as much as $3.11 per hour for every four hours they work either before or after the daytime shift, said Liam L. Castro, of Koehleer & Isaacs in Manhattan, who represents the union. That is in addition to any overtime they receive. Conversely, the county argued that while working hours in addition to the normal shift entitled the officers to overtime, they would not qualify for the shift differential until they have worked at least seven hours outside the scheduled day shift. In an interview, Mr. Castro said he had “no idea” where the seven-hour requirement originated. Barbara Van Riper, who heads the county attorney’s labor bureau office, said that the requirement that a correction officer work a “substantial portion” of a qualifying shift in order to be eligible for the additional pay had been incorporated into contracts dating back to 1992. In April 2005, the union filed a grievance against the county. A hearing was held in October 2006 and an arbitrator found for the union, ruling that its interpretation of the bargaining agreement clause was correct, according to Justice McCarty’s decision. However, the arbitration was not binding and the county rejected the award in February of last year. The union sued in March 2007. In his decision, Justice McCarty looked to the entirety of the collective bargaining agreement, noting that the county could have modified its language to “support its position on payment of shift differential, but failed to do so.” The 1992 agreement referenced by Ms. Van Riper did not support the county’s position, the judge ruled. “The fact that such settlement agreement does not refer to the 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift does not imply that plaintiff’s members who work such shifts are excluded from receiving shift differential pay,” Justice McCarty wrote, adding that taken to its logical extreme, such a position would be “inconsistent” with paying officers who do work an additional seven hours before or after the day shift. In any event, as the 1992 agreement had been replaced by the 1998 contract, its terms were immaterial to the issue at hand, the judge said. “Giving plain meaning to the words of the . . . agreement, defendant County is required to pay shift differential to plaintiff’s members who work at least four hours immediately before or after the 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. shift,” the judge wrote, ordering discovery to determine monetary damages. Ms. Van Riper said that the county would “promptly” appeal the ruling. [email protected]

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