Monday, June 13, 2011

Duty of fair representation


Duty of fair representation
Hickey v Hempstead Union Free School Dist., 36 AD3d 760

Robert L. Hickey’s lawsuit against the Hempstead Union Free School District involved provisions in the collective bargaining agreement negotiated between his union, the Hempstead School Administrator’s Association, and his employer, the Hempstead Union Free School District.

Supreme Court dismissed Hickey’s petition after finding that he “lacked standing” to maintain such an action. The Appellate Division agreed.

The Appellate Division pointed out that a union member generally has no individual rights under a collective bargaining agreement that he or she can enforce against an employer unless:

1. The negotiated agreement, by its terms, permits an individual to proceed directly against the employer to enforce a term or condition set out in the agreement, or

2. The union fails in its duty of fair representation.

As the collective bargaining agreement did not provide for negotiating unit members taking direct action against the school district, Hickey could only maintain his action if he could show that the Hempstead School Administrator’s Association violated its duty of fair representation with respect to his claim.

Here, said the court, Hickey’s petition did not contain any allegation that the Association had breached its duty of fair representation. Indeed, said the Appellate Division, in response to Hickey’s filing an improper practice charge against the Association with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), PERB dismissed his complaint, finding that the union had not breached its duty of fair representation. Hickey never appealed PERB’s determination.

The Appellate Division concluded that the Supreme Court properly granted the school district’s motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the Hickey lacked standing to maintain the action.

The decision if posted on the Internet at:

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