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August 17, 2012

The terms of a collective bargaining agreement may permit the employee organization to demand arbitration of a grievance on behalf of retirees


The terms of a collective bargaining agreement may permit the employee organization to demand arbitration of a grievance on behalf of retirees
City of Niagara Falls v Niagara Falls Police Club, Inc., 52 AD3d 1327

The City of Niagara Falls resisted efforts by the Niagara Falls Police Club to submit a grievance concerning healthcare benefits for retired police officers to arbitration.
Supreme Court rejected the City’s application for a stay of arbitration and the Appellate Division affirmed the lower court’s ruling.

The Appellate Division said that dispute between the parties over healthcare benefits for retired police officers is properly the subject of arbitration based on the terms of the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

The court pointed out that the CBA sets out a grievance procedure to resolve disputes that arises "concerning the interpretation or application of the terms of this contract or of the rights claimed to exist, hereunder." Further, said the court, the CBA specifically provides that, in the event that there is not a satisfactory resolution of a grievance, "either party may seek resolution by arbitration."

As the CBA expressly refers to retirement benefits in defining the term grievance, and the grievance procedure set forth in the CBA is "not predicated upon the status of the affected beneficiaries" – i.e., it does not distinguish between active employees or retirees – the Appellate Division concluded that the Police Club “is entitled to pursue arbitration on behalf of the retirees.”

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