increasingly, public sector employers, over union opposition, have been seeking to consolidate police and fire departments into allencompassing public safety departments. In this study, the authors examine arbitration awards over the assignment of personnel to nontraditional work, contracting out of bargaining unit work, reduction in minimum staffing requirements, and safety to determine the factors that would either promote or negate a municipality's right to consolidate police and fire functions.
While many municipalities are eager to consolidate to achieve fiscal economies, that objective is clearly not a blanket sanction to modify the traditional job functions of police and firefighters. Where police and firefighters are found in two separate bargaining units, the capacity of an employer to fully consolidate would most likely be barred as a bad-faith subversion of the labor agreement previously negotiated with each separate union. Even lesser forms of consolidation might be precluded where it would result in employee cutbacks in either unit. On the other hand, if consolidation involves job expansion, as opposed to job erosion, the scope of management's discretionary authority would be dependent on such factors as past practice, the nature of employee job descriptions and management prerogative clauses, safety, and the effect of negotiated manning provisions.