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Tuesday, April 03, 2012

If the CBA provides for the arbitration of alleged contract violations, unless there is a statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition barring such arbitration courts cannot stay the arbitration


If the CBA provides for the arbitration of alleged contract violations, unless there is a statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition barring such arbitration courts cannot stay the arbitration
County of Rockland v Civil Serv. Empl. Assn., Inc., 2012 NY Slip Op 01815, Appellate Division, Second Department

The Civil Service Employees Association, Inc., Local 1000, AFSCME, AFL-CIO (CSEA), filed a grievance on behalf of one of its members in the collective bargaining unit and shortly thereafter filed a similar grievance on behalf of another of its members in the unit. Both grievances filed by CSEA alleged that Rockland County had violated certain provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement [CBA] between CSEA and the County when it assigned per diem employees to perform certain work instead of giving those assignments to regular full- and part-time employees in the collective bargaining unit.

Rockland denied the grievances and ultimately CSEA demanded that the grievances be submitted to binding arbitration.

Rockland County filed an Article 75 petition in Supreme Court seeking a court order permanently staying the arbitration. Supreme Court granted its petition and permanently stayed the arbitration of the grievances. The Appellate Division reversed the lower court’s order.

The Appellate Division said that in the public sector context, determining whether a grievance is arbitrable requires a court to first determine whether there is any statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition against arbitration of the grievance.

If the demand for arbitration meets this test, then the court must then determine "whether the parties in fact agreed to arbitrate the particular dispute by examining their collective bargaining agreement."

The Appellate Division said that inasmuch as the grievances allege that Rockland County violated certain provisions of the CBA, and the CBA contains a procedure to arbitrate "any alleged violation, misrepresentation, or inequitable application of [the CBA]," the parties have agreed to arbitrate the grievances.

Further, noted the court, Rockland’s allegation that CSEA’s demand for arbitration was untimely is an issue to be resolved by the arbitrator and not the courts.

Thus, said the Appellate Division, Supreme Court erred in granting the County’s petition and permanently staying the arbitration. 

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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