The Council filed a contract grievance in response to a city-wide plan applicable to all city agencies that reduced the number of parking permits issued to municipal workers for parking on city streets. Prior to this, parking permits were distributed “based on demand” rather than the parking spaces actually available.
Council argued that any reduction in the parking permits issued to Council members violated a provision of the collective bargaining agreement between the Council and the Department of Education and thus the Department could not make such a change without first negotiation with it.
The arbitrator agreed, finding that the permits policy change was a proper subject of bargaining as it "constituted a significant and adverse alteration of the bargaining unit members' working conditions" and directed the Department to return all such permits to unit personnel until negotiations could be conducted with the Department over the proposed reductions.
When the Council asked the court to confirm the arbitration award the City “cross-moved” to vacate the award contending that the award (1) violated strong public policy; (2) the arbitrator vastly exceeded his authority; and (3) the arbitration award was irrational.
The Appellate Division, after noting that it is “well-settled law that an arbitration award will be vacated only where ‘it is violative of a strong public policy, or is totally irrational, or exceeds a specifically enumerated limitation on [the arbitrator's] power,’ citing Matter of Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v Chesley, 7 AD3d 368, decided that in this instance the Department’s arguments met this test.
The court pointed out that the Mayor [and the “non-party” City Department of Transportation] have the power under the NY Constitution [Article IX, § 2(a),(c)] and various State and local law and its Administrative Code to regulate traffic in the City streets, as well as parking.
Here, said the Appellate Division, the award directs the Department of Education to issue permits, a power vested in the Department of Transportation. In effect, the arbitrator directed Education to exercise a power it did not possess, thus exceeding his authority, which action was compounded by his doing so “in an entirely irrational way.”
In explaining the rationale underlying its ruling, the Appellate Division commented that, in its view, “… the agreement was forged between the Council and Education and Transportation was not a party to the collective bargaining agreement and cannot be bound by it. DOT did not agree to issue parking permits to any CSA member who demanded a permit.