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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Determining if a grievance resulting from an alleged violation of a collective bargaining agreement is subject to arbitration


Determining if a grievance resulting from an alleged violation of a collective bargaining agreement is subject to arbitration
In the Matter of the Arbitration between the Village of Horseheads and the Horseheads Police Benevolent Assn., Inc., 2012 NY Slip Op 02543, Appellate Division, Third Department

The Appellate Division, affirming a lower court’s ruling, said that the role of the court in reviewing an application to stay arbitration is limited. In determining if a particular grievance is subject to arbitration, the court must first determine if the parties may lawfully arbitrate the underlying dispute and, if so, whether they did in fact agree to so arbitrate the issue.

In this instance the Village of Horseheads did not contend that there was a statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition against arbitrating this particular grievance. Accordingly, the sole issue for the court to determine was whether or not the parties, in accordance with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, agreed to arbitrate the grievance presented by the Police Benevolent Association.

The relevant collective bargaining provision, said the court, defined a grievance as "any claimed violation, misinterpretation or inequitable application of existing laws, rules, procedures, regulations, application or enforcement of the terms of this agreement, administrative orders or work orders or rules of [the Village]."
Whether the Village’s action constituted an actual violation of a rule or regulation "goes to the merits of the grievance [itself], not to its arbitrability," said the court. Accordingly, this was an issue for the arbitrator to resolve.

In contrast, the Appellate Division emphasized that “For purposes of [its] limited inquiry, it [was] sufficient that [the Association had] asserted a ‘claimed violation’ of certain rules and regulations and that a ‘claimed violation’ is, in turn, subject to the grievance procedure set forth in the CBA “

The decision is posted on the Internet at: 


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