A collective bargaining agreement may expand an employer's obligation to provide information to an employee organization not specifically provided for by law
City of New York v New York State Nurses Assn., 2017 NY Slip Op 04492, Court of Appeals
New York State Nurses Association (Union) filed an improper practice petition with the Board of Collective Bargaining of the City of New York (the Board), alleging that it had a right to certain information pursuant to New York City's Collective Bargaining Law (NYCCBL) §12-306(c)(4), in connection with disciplinary proceedings brought against two nurses employed by the City's Human Resources Administration (HRA).
HRA refused to provide the information the Union sought in connection with its representing the two nurses in the disciplinary action, including the "relevant policies and the HRA Code of Conduct, information on time-keeping, patient treatment records for the relevant dates, witness statements, and a written statement detailing how the nurses violated the HRA Code of Conduct." HRA also refused to permit the Union to question "the witnesses who gave statements and the nurses' supervisors."
The Board, with two members dissenting, ruled that it was an improper practice for the City to refuse to comply with certain of the information requests, finding that §12-306(c)(4) extends to information "relevant to and reasonably necessary to the administration of the parties' agreements, such as processing grievances." The Board, however, found that the Union was not entitled to witness statements or a written explanation regarding the violation or the opportunity to question the identified witnesses or supervisors, concluding that §12-306(c)(4) is limited to information "normally maintained in the regular course of business."
The City filed an Article 78 petition challenging the Board's determination.
Supreme Court granted the City's petition and annulled the Board's determination, concluding that the Board improperly extended the Union's right to obtain information for grievances pursuant to contract administration to disciplinary proceedings, noting that "the agreement does not explicitly require the City to provide information in disciplinary proceedings."
The Appellate Division unanimously reversed, holding that "the Board's decision, which was entitled to 'substantial deference,' had a rational basis" but granted the City leave to appeal on a certified question of whether its order was properly made.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the Appellate Division's ruling, Judge Garcia dissenting, explaining:
1. NYCCBL provides that it is improper practice for a public employer "to refuse to bargain collectively in good faith on matters within the scope of collective bargaining with certified or designated representatives of its public employees" and requires both employers and unions "to furnish to the other party, upon request, data normally maintained in the regular course of business, reasonably available and necessary for full and proper discussion, understanding and negotiation of subjects within the scope of collective bargaining."
2. The Board held that NYCCBL §12-306(c)(4) extended to information "relevant to and reasonably necessary for the administration of the parties' agreements, such as processing grievances, and/or for collective negotiations on mandatory subjects of bargaining."
3. The Appellate Division noted, "... the City and HRA do not dispute the Board's precedent holding that the duty to furnish information already applied to 'contract administration' and 'grievances' (including potential grievances)."
4. Union had bargained for and obtained the right to obtain such information in the context of a disciplinary proceedings and not just "contract" grievances by defining "grievance" to include disciplinary action in the relevant collective bargaining agreement.
The decision is posted on the Internet at: