City of Waterbury and AFSCME, Council 4, Local 2090
A worker who operates a city motor vehicle may not be required to keep the keys to the motor vehicle under lock and key. In 2012, Ken Ferreira, a collection systems supervisor, and his wife went away on vacation. Ferreira left his city motor vehicle, a 2010 Ford Escape, locked in his driveway. He left his Ford keys in his home, in a bowl on top of a credenza. While Ferreira was away from home on vacation, his child took care of his home and his grandson's friend allegedly took the keys from the bowl, unlocked the Ford Escape and backed it out of the driveway, into another motor vehicle. The police were called and the grandson's friend, who was under the age of 18, was charged with operating without a license and unsafe backing. Ferreira reported the motor-vehicle accident to his supervisor as soon as he returned from vacation. The City of Waterbury suspended Ferreira five days, because he did not properly secure his motor vehicle keys, when he left them in a bowl on top of a credenza. The union filed a grievance and argued that the city lacked just cause, because Ferreira did not violate a rule or order. The union claimed the suspension was overly harsh for an individual who had worked 18 years without any prior, related discipline. The city's Personal Use of Motor Vehicles Policy does not include any directions on safekeeping keys. It requires only that workers report accidents. Arbitrators found the city failed to prove Ferreira did not take reasonable care of the Ford and its keys. "The grievant did what reasonable individuals do," wrote arbitrators, "and kept his car keys in a safe spot." Arbitrators added, "It is unreasonable to expect that an individual will place their car keys under lock and key." Ferreira could not have foreseen an intervening, illegal act by his grandson's friend, who allegedly stole the Ford Escort. Arbitrators found that the city lacked just cause to suspend and ordered the city to make Ferreira whole. Anthony Bento represented the union, and Paula Anthony represented the city.