Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Coverage of Neutrality agreement subject to arbitration

            Judge Lewis Babcock of the US District Court for the District of Colorado granted summary judgment to Communications Workers of America in their dispute with Avaya concerning the applicability of the parties’ Neutrality and Consent Election (NCE) agreement to a particular group of employees.
             CWA had given formal notice to Avaya, pursuant to the NCE, that it intended to start a formal organizing drive among a group of “backbone engineers.” Avaya disputed the applicability of the agreement to those employees, contending that they were not “non-management employees” and therefore were outside the scope of the agreement. After unsuccessfully pursuing a grievance, CWA sought to arbitrate the applicability of the agreement to these backbone engineers. Avaya refused to arbitrate and CWA filed suit seeking an order compelling arbitration.
            Finding the dispute within the scope of the arbitration provisions of the collective bargaining agreement, the court ordered arbitration. The court noted the company’s contention that it was undisputed that the engineers were not non- management employees, but concluded that “such determination is an assessment of the underlying merits before an arbitrator and, as such, is not before me.” The court also rejected the contention that the matter was within the exclusive jurisdiction of the NLRB
            A copy of Judge Babcock’s decision can be found here.

Update: The 10th Circuit has reversed the decision of Judge Babcock. The Court's decision is discussed here.

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