__________________________________

Nominations sought for the Empire Star Public Service Award

This award recognizes exemplary employees of New York State serving in the Executive Branch.

Nominations must be submitted no later than December 15, 2017 and may be completed online.

For more information about the Empire Star Public Service Award, visit www.ny.gov/EmpireStarPublicService.

______________________________


To search this database type in a word or phrase in the box in the upper left and any material containing the word or phrase will be displayed for your review.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A “deadline” set out in a collective bargaining agreement may be a nonbinding housekeeping rule unless the penalty for noncompliance is set out in the agreement


A “deadline” set out in a collective bargaining agreement may be a nonbinding housekeeping rule unless the penalty for noncompliance is set out in the agreement
Raymond Muller v Government Printing Office, United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit, No. 2015–3032

Raymond Muller asked his union to have his grievance against his employer, the Government Printing Office [GPO], submitted to arbitration. The relevant contract provision stated that if the grievance was not resolved to the satisfaction of the parties at the agency level “Arbitration must be invoked within 30 days.” The agreement further provided that “[t]he arbitration hearing will take place within 4 months after filing of the notice of decision to proceed to arbitration, unless the parties mutually agree to an extension of the time limit.”

As the grievance was not resolved at the agency level, a timely demand for arbitration was submitted to GPO. GPO referred the matter to arbitration pursuant provisions set out in the relevant collective bargaining agreement. GPO, four months to the day from the date that arbitration had been invoked, wrote to the union and the arbitrator “to ask that the arbitration be closed for failure to comply with the four-month deadline.” After reviewing briefs submitted by the parties the arbitrator concluded that “[T]here is ample evidence in the record, although none is required contractually, that the union … was the direct and primary cause for the failure of the parties to meet the four-month requirement” and dismissed Muller’s grievance as “not arbitrable,” as the “four-month deadline” for holding a hearing had passed.” The arbitrator's decision was appealed and considered by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit.

The court unanimously disagreed with the arbitrator's determination, explaining that the relevant contractual provision did not require dismissal of the grievance in the event of noncompliance with the four-month deadline. The court characterized the deadline as “merely a nonbinding housekeeping rule” to encourage timely arbitration and applies to both the arbitrator and the parties involved. Nor, said the court, there was no “past practice” in place requiring dismissal under the circumstances of this case.

The Circuit Court noted that “[c]ourts should be careful not to ‘judicialize’ the arbitration process.” Arbitration typically envisions that each case be decided on its own under the controlling contract as “t]he collective bargaining agreement is the primary tool used in the arbitration process.” Thus, said the Circuit Court, [i]t is therefore up to the negotiating parties to impose any internal deadlines on the arbitration process.” Further, the commented the court, in this instance “it is not within the union's power to ensure compliance with the four-month deadline; and the [relevant contract] provision does not specify dismissal as a sanction for failure to comply with the deadline.”

The court also noted that the contract provides that a “failure to meet a deadline will result in the grievance moving to the next step.” Pointing out that the “next step after a hearing” is the decision by the arbitrator, the Court of Appeals characterized such a result as “nonsensical” and that GPO did not contend that “failure to meet the four-month deadline should result in a decision without a hearing.”

Ruling that there was no basis in the text of the master agreement to support the arbitrator's conclusion that noncompliance with the four-month hearing deadline automatically invalidated Muller's claim, the court remanded the matter for a determination of of Muller’s grievance on its merits.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

Caution:

Subsequent court and administrative rulings, or changes to laws, rules and regulations may have modified or clarified or vacated or reversed the decisions summarized here. Accordingly, these summaries should be Shepardized® or otherwise checked to make certain that the most recent information is being considered by the reader.

THE MATERIAL ON THIS WEBSITE IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. CHANGES IN LAWS, RULES, REGULATIONS AND NEW COURT AND ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS MAY AFFECT THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION PROVIDED IN THIS LAWBLOG. THE MATERIAL PRESENTED IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AND THE USE OF ANY MATERIAL POSTED ON THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP.

Consistent with the Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations, the material in this blog is presented with the understanding that the publisher is not providing legal advice to the reader and in the event legal or other expert assistance is needed, the reader should seek such advice from a competent professional.

Items published in NYPPL may not be used for commercial purposes without prior written permission to copy and distribute such material. Send your request via e-mail to publications@nycap.rr.com

Copyright© 1987 - 2017 by the Public Employment Law Press.



___________________



N.B. From time to time a political ad or endorsement may appear in the sidebar of this Blog. NYPPL does not have any control over such posting.

_____________________

.