The Barry administration, which intends to challenge an arbitration panel's recent ruling in favor of District police officers' contract demands, prevailed yesterday in a second contract dispute submitted to arbitration under D.C. labor law.
An independent arbitrator ruled in favor of the District government over the D.C. Nurses Association after the two had reached an impasse in negotiating a three-year contract. The nurses association represents about 500 registered nurses at D.C. General Hospital and in the public health section of the Department of Human Services
The administration hailed arbitrator Ira Jaffe's findings that the nurses had failed to present a persuasive reason for receiving salary increases that exceed the pattern of settlements negotiated by other unions and affecting nearly 90 percent of the city's work force.
The nurses had sought a 4 percent salary increase in the first year, retroactive to last October; a 5 percent increase in the second year, and a 6 percent increase in the third year.
The arbitrator ruled in favor of the city's final offer of a 3 percent bonus in the first year, a 3.5 percent salary increase in the second year, a 4 percent salary increase in the third year and a 1.5 percent increase or "kicker" at the end of the contract.
Donald H. Weinberg, the city's chief labor negotiator, contended that the ruling was a better decision than a three-member panel's ruling last month on the police contract dispute because it was based on a broader examination of economic and budgetary factors and stressed the importance of comparability with other contract settlements, both locally and nationally.
Gary Hankins, an official of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represented about 3,300 police officers in contract talks with the District, said he doubted yesterday's ruling would enhance the administration's efforts to overturn the police contract approved by the arbitration panel.
The panel ruled that the District must grant a three-year contract to the police union that could cost the city $23 million more in pay and benefits than it is willing to pay. The decision, if it withstands an expected challenge by Mayor Marion Barry, also would discard the longstanding principle that D.C. police officers and firefighters should receive the same salaries.
Barry plans to urge the City Council to overturn the arbitration panel's ruling, according to an aide. Last Friday he met with leaders of public employe unions to defend his position and to try to head off efforts by unions to reopen negotiations on contracts that have already been signed.
The labor officials, including representatives of the American Federation of Government Employees, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and Local 36 of the firefighters union, caucused after meeting with Barry and discussed several possible demands to present to the mayor.
One possible demand is for a 3 percent increase in the base salary of city workers in the first year of their new contracts, rather than the one-time 3 percent bonus, according to two labor officials.
The other is a prepaid legal plan similar to the one included in the police officers' new contract. The city would pay $6 a month per employe to cover legal matters not related to duty.
One labor official said that the additional pay and benefits may be the "price" Barry must pay in return for labor support when he seeks election to a third term next year.
"The rank and file is angry with the mayor," the official said. "The mayor isn't giving us anything. People want to see something gained before talking about supporting the mayor."