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July 01, 2014

Whether a timely demand for arbitration has been made is for the court to determine


Whether a timely demand for arbitration has been made is for the court to determine
Village of Chester v Local 445, Intl. Bhd. of Teamsters, 2014 NY Slip Op 04775, Appellate Division, Second Department

In this CPLR Article 75 proceeding the Village of Chester asked Supreme Court to permanently stay the arbitration of a disciplinary grievance. Supreme Court denied the Village’s petition, which ruling was affirmed by the Appellate Division.

The Village and the Village of Chester Police Benevolent Association (PBA) entered into a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Article 12 of the CBA provided for a “contract disciplinary procedure” in lieu of any statutory disciplinary procedure. In the event disciplinary charges were filed against a member in the collective bargaining unit, Article 12 required the PBA or the individual charged to file a grievance with the Chief of Police within 15 days of the receipt of the notice of charges.

Citing Matter of County of Rockland, 51 NY2d 1, the Appellate Division explained that in this instance the threshold determinations to be made concerned [1] was there a condition precedent to arbitration, and if so, [2] had it been timely met is for the court to determine.

Supreme Court found that a letter sent to the Chief of Police constituted the filing of the grievance and that it was timely filed. Accordingly, said the Appellate Division, Supreme Court “properly denied the petition to permanently stay arbitration” and correctly granted PBA’s the cross petition to compel arbitration.

Arbitration, said the Appellate Division, “is essentially a creature of contract in which the parties themselves charter a private tribunal for the resolution of their disputes and are free to enlarge, restrict, modify, amend or terminate their agreement to arbitrate."

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