Friday, June 30, 2017

Determining if the parties agreed to resolve a particular grievance pursuant to the terms of the arbitration clause set out in a collective bargaining agreement


Determining if the parties agreed to resolve a particular grievance pursuant to the terms of the arbitration clause set out in a collective bargaining agreement
County of Monroe (Civil Serv. Employees Assn., Inc., Local 828, Unit 7423, 2017 NY Slip Op 04602, Appellate Division, 4th Department

Civil Service Employees Association, Inc., Local 828, Unit 7423 [7423] filed a grievance on behalf of certain retired former employees of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department, all of whom retired prior to January 1, 2000, when a collective bargaining agreement [CBA] that covered the period between 1994 through 1999 was in effect.

The grievance alleging that Monroe County had had violated the CBA by unilaterally changing the subject retirees' post-Medicare health insurance benefits.

Monroe County contended that any such alleged unilateral change was subject to resolution pursuant to the grievance and arbitration procedure set out in the 2009-2012 CBA. 7423, however, denied that the parties had agreed to resolve retiree health insurance benefit disputes for those retiring prior to January 1, 2000, by submitting it to the grievance and arbitration procedure set out in the 2009-2012 CBA.

When Monroe County demanded arbitration pursuant to the 2009-2012 CBA, 7423 commenced this proceeding, and the County cross-moved to compel arbitration. Supreme Court granted 7423's petition, permanently staying arbitration, and denied the County's cross motion to compel arbitration. Monroe County appealed but the Appellate Division sustained the Supreme Court's ruling.

Citing City of Buffalo v A.F.S.C.M.E. Council 35, Local 264, 107 AD2d 1049, the Appellate Division, agreeing with Supreme Court, concluded that the rights of the subject retirees are governed by the 1994-1999 CBA, which was in effect when they retired.

Then, in order to determine whether the grievance was arbitrable under the 1994-1999 CBA, the Appellate Division initiated "the requisite two-step inquiry." As to the first step of its inquiry - was there any statutory, constitutional or public policy prohibition against arbitration of the grievance -- the Appellate Division said " it is undisputed that there is no prohibition against arbitration of the grievance."

The court then considered the "second step" of the inquiry -  "... whether the parties did agree by the terms of their particular arbitration clause to refer their differences in this specific area to arbitration."

Addressing this second element of the "two-step inquiry," the Appellate Division concluded that Supreme Court had properly determined that the parties did not agree to refer to arbitration retiree health benefit disputes raised by former employees who had retired prior to January 1, 2000.

The decision of the Appellate Division notes that that a "grievance clause in the 1994-1999 CBA" specifically excludes retirement benefits from the grievance and arbitration procedure. Accordingly, the court dismissed Monroe County's appeal, sustaining Supreme Court's order granting 7423's petition to stay arbitration and denying the County's cross-motion to compel arbitration.

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:

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A Reasonable Penalty Under The Circumstances at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

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

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

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