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August 07, 2013

Arbitrators may make an award reflecting the spirit of the agreement

Arbitrators may make an award reflecting the spirit of the agreement
Matter of Arbitration Between Civ. Serv. Employees Assn. Inc. Local 1000 AFSCME AFL-CIO Niagara Falls Bridge Commn. Unit Niagara County Local 832, 32 AD3d 1186

The Appellate Division, Fourth Department ruled that a Supreme Court Justice properly granted CSEA’s petition to confirm an arbitration award and denied the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission’s cross motion to vacate the award.

The Court held that the arbitrator did not exceed the collective bargaining agreement’s [CBA] limitations on her power.

The CBA provided that the arbitrator "shall not have the power to add or subtract from or to modify in any way the terms of [the CBA]." In this instance, however, the court found that the record established that the arbitrator merely interpreted conflicting provisions of the CBA in order to effectuate the intent of the parties.

According to the decision "Parties who agree to refer contract disputes to arbitration must recognize that arbitrators may do justice and the award may well reflect the spirit rather than the letter of the agreement." The court decided that the arbitrator's interpretation of the CBA was appropriate under the circumstances and, contrary to Niagara Falls Bridge Commission’s argument, it was not "totally irrational."

The decision is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2006/2006_06663.htm
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