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January 11, 2012

If a CBA sets out a broad arbitration clause, arbitrability of a grievance depends on the relationship of the subject matter of the dispute to the general subject matter of the CBA

If a CBA sets out a broad arbitration clause, arbitrability of a grievance depends on the  relationship of the subject matter of the dispute to the general subject matter of the CBA
Matter of Haessig (Oswego City School Dist.), 2011 NY Slip Op 09723, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

In this CPLR Article 75 action the president of the Oswego Classroom Teachers Association, Brian Haessig, sought a court order to compel the arbitration of a grievance filed after the school district assigned an additional instructional class to teachers for the 2010-2011 school year. The school district, on the other hand, asked for a stay of arbitration on the ground that the grievance was not arbitrable.

The Appellate Division affirmed Supreme Court’s granting Haessig’s petition while denying the school district’s cross-motion to stay the arbitration.

Citing Board of Educ. of Watertown City School Dist. [Watertown Educ. Assn.], 93 NY2d 132, the Appellate Division explained that when, as was here the case, the collective bargaining agreement [CBA] contains a broad arbitration clause, the court’s determination of arbitrability is limited to "whether there is a reasonable relationship between the subject matter of the dispute and the general subject matter of the CBA.”

In addition, the Appellate Division said that notwithstanding the CBA provision that "the term grievance' shall not apply to any matter as to which (1) the method of review is prescribed by law, or rules or regulation having the force or effect of law…”the fact that the Commissioner of Education has promulgated regulations pertaining to teacher class loads (see 8 NYCRR 100.2 [i]),” such a provision “does not exclude that subject from the scope of arbitration under the CBA,” explaining that “although Education Law §310 permits any aggrieved party to appeal by petition to the Commissioner of Education, that statute does not mandate a particular method of review and does not preclude submission of disputes concerning teacher class loads to arbitration.”

In addition to rejecting other arguments raised by the school district in support of its position, the court noted that Association “did not abandon its right to arbitrate the [instant] grievance by filing a notice of claim with the Public Employment Relations Board concerning an improper practice charge.”

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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