Town of Bloomfield and UPSEU/COPS, Local 424
Past practice may not be sufficient to continue to use a certain method to compute retirement pay, if the plain language of the retirement contract supports a different method of computation. In June 2011, John Lazarus, who worked for a municipal police department, retired. Lazarus had expected that his pension would be calculated by adding an accrued time payment to his highest years of pay, between 2006 and 2009. The town changed its method of computing pensions in or about 2010, when it concluded its previous method of computing pensions had been incorrect. Lazarus was the first individual who had his pension computed using the new method, and the union filed a grievance and argued that the municipality failed to follow a past practice. Arbitrators voted, 2-1, that the plain language of the contract supported the municipality's current method of computation. Although the language of Subsection R alone could be construed to support the union's position, Subsections R and Q should be read together, because a contract should be construed as a whole to give effect to component parts. "Subsection Q," wrote the arbitrators, "requires that the accrued payment be allocated to the time of receipt in determining earnings." John Walsh represented the union, and William Ryan represented the employer.