June 18, 2018

Arbitration award found "imperfectly executed" vacated


Arbitration award found "imperfectly executed" vacated
Matter of The Professional, Clerical, Tech. Empls. Assn. (Board of Educ. for Buffalo City Sch. Dist.), 2018 NY Slip Op 04128, Appellate Division, Fourth Department

Supreme Court granted the petition submitted by The Professional, Clerical, Technical Employees Association [Association] seeking to confirm an arbitration award and denied the Board of Education for Buffalo City School District's [Board] cross petition seeking a court order vacating the arbitration award. The Appellate Division unanimously reversed the Supreme Court's ruling, on the law, and vacated the arbitration award, explaining:

1. The arbitration proceeding arose from Board's plan to transfer certain employees previously assigned to work at a single location to new positions requiring them to alternate between two different work locations.

2. The arbitrator's opinion and award, among other things, found that Board had  involuntarily transferred* the Association's grievants "to new positions" in violation of the collective bargaining agreement between the parties, and directed the Board to compensate the grievants "for work performed at more than one location from November 30, 2013 until the end of the 2016 Budget Year."

3. Vacatur of the arbitration award is appropriate where the award failed to set forth the manner of computing monetary damages as CPLR Article 75 provides, in pertinent part, that an arbitration award "shall be vacated" where the arbitrator "so imperfectly executed [the award] that a final and definite award upon the subject matter submitted was not made."**

The court noted that the Board's affidavit in support of the cross petition contained a statement that "none of the affected employees was terminated or had his or her compensation reduced as a result of the allegedly wrongful transfers."

However, said the Appellate Division, the arbitration award does not explain the basis for the arbitrator's directing the Board provide compensation allegedly owed to the grievants, nor does the award detail how that compensation should be calculated. Rather, said the court, "[i]t appears that the arbitrator merely copied verbatim the remedy requested by [the Association] rather than making findings of his own."

Accordingly, the Appellate Division reverse the Supreme Court's order, denied the Associations petition, granted the Association's cross petition, vacated the arbitration award, and remitted the matter to Supreme Court.

In addition, Supreme Court was instructed to then remit the matter to the arbitrator to determine whether any compensation is due the Association's grievants, and, if so, "to determine the amount of such compensation or how it can be calculated with reasonable precision."

* Although the term "transfer" is used to describe the personnel change that resulted in the submission of this grievance, the term "reassignment" would be a more accurate of the personnel change in this instance. A movement of an individual from one position to a second position subject to the jurisdiction of the same appointing authority is typically described as a "reassignment." In contrast, the movement of an employee from one position to a second position under the jurisdiction of a different appointing authority would constitute a "transfer" [see Rules for the Classified Civil Service of the County of Erie, Rule XVI].

** An award is indefinite or nonfinal within the meaning of the statute only if it leaves the parties unable to determine their rights and obligations; if it does not resolve the controversy submitted; or if it creates a new controversy.

The decision is posted on the Internet at:

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