Although the “management rights” clause in the collective bargaining agreement permitted the employer to restructure its workforce, the union retained the right to bargain over the practical impact of such action on the remaining employees
Sanitation Officers Assn. v City of New York, , 2014 NY Slip Op 08769, Appellate Division, First Department
Sanitation Officers Association, Local 444, SEIU, AFL-CIO (the Union), the exclusive bargaining representative of all supervisors and level-I superintendents employed by Department of Sanitation of the City of New York (DOS), filed a grievance under the parties' collective bargaining agreement (CBA) alleging that DOS improperly reassigned supervisors in violation of the CBA.
DOS, on the other hand, asserted as an affirmative defense that, for economic reasons, they exercised management rights reserved under the CBA by laying off 200 out of 330 supervisors, and reassigning the remaining supervisors to additional district sections. DOS contended that it had retained its management prerogative to restructure the workforce and the CBA expressly reserved its right to alter the ratio of supervisors to collection equipment.
The arbitrator found that although the union had established a prima facie violation of the CBA. The grievance, however, was denied as the arbitrator found that DOS had retained its management prerogative to restructure the workforce and the CBA expressly reserved its right to alter the ratio of supervisors to collection equipment.
The Union filed a petition pursuant to CPLR Article 75 seeking to vacate the arbitrator’s award.
Although Supreme Court had granted the Union’s petition and remanded the matter for consideration of an appropriate remedy, the Appellate Division unanimously reversed the Supreme Court’s ruling, on the law, and confirmed the award.
The Appellate Division explained that contrary the Union’s argument, arbitrator did not exceed his power in considering and crediting DOS's defense. The court said that the arbitrator's consideration of DOS’s defense was necessary to resolve the dispute submitted to him and his decision was not irrational nor did it exceed a specifically enumerated limitation on his power.
The court than noted that the arbitrator’s denial of the grievance did not impair the Union's right to bargain over the practical impact that the workforce reduction and reassignments have placed on the remaining employees.
Finding that the arbitrator’s decision did not violate the strong public policy favoring collective bargaining, the Appellate Division said that there no basis to overturn the arbitrator's interpretation of the issues and the scope of his authority, “which must be accorded substantial deference.”
The decision is posted on the Internet at: