Failure to comply with contractual grievance procedures may not always serve as a basis a for a court's issuing a stay of arbitration where such issues are to be resolved by the arbitrator
Matter of Arbitration Between Town of Greece and Civil Service Employees Association, Inc., Local 828, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, 2017 NY Slip Op 06785, Appellate Division, Fourth Department
The Town of Greece [Greece] initiated a CPLR Article 75 action seeking a permanent stay of the arbitration of a grievance arising from its termination of one of the Civil Service Employees Association, Inc., Local 828 [Local 828] members. Supreme Court denied Greece's application for a permanent stay of arbitration and directed it to hold a hearing pursuant to step two of the three-step grievance procedure set out in the collective bargaining agreement [CBA] between the parties "within 30 days."
Greece appealed and although the Appellate Division affirmed the Supreme Court's denial of the permanent stay of arbitration sought by Greece, it vacated that part of the Supreme Court's order that directed Greece "to hold a step two hearing."
The Appellate Division explained that Supreme Court erred in directing Greece to hold a step two hearing. Contrary to the court's determination, the Appellate Division said that "a step two hearing is not a condition precedent to arbitration under the terms of the CBA."
As the CBA contained "a broad arbitration clause and does not expressly identify any conditions precedent to arbitration," the Appellate Division said that any alleged failure of a party to comply strictly with the contractual grievance procedures or time limits is not a proper ground for a stay of arbitration because such issues are to be resolved by the arbitrator.
With respect to CBA between Greece and Local 828, Appellate Division held that "... as a step two hearing is a permissive and not a mandatory part of the CBA's grievance and arbitration procedure, strict compliance with each step in the procedure is not a condition precedent to arbitration."
The decision is posted on the Internet at: