Friday, July 6, 2012

Labor Arbitration in the News

Termination of police officer for excessive force reduced to written reprimand

Arbitrator Edward Valverde has issued an award sustaining, in large part, the grievance of an Owasso, OK police officer who had been terminated for excessive force. While concluding that the evidence did establish “unreasonable and unnecessary force”, the arbitrator found that the City had not established “excessive” force. He noted “in evaluating each instance , the arbitrator finds the level of misconduct engaged in falls short of the case law standard for finding excessive force for, in each instance there was no evidence that although the force he used was unreasonable or unnecessary [Grievant] did not cause any injury to Citizen X.” Taking into consideration the officer’s prior demonstrated superior performance, and the Owasso Police Department’s previous “tolerance in meting out discipline when it comes to officer misconduct” the arbitrator concluded the discipline should be reduced to a written reprimand. The Tulsa World discusses the award, Arbitrator reduces Owasso officer's firing to a written reprimand, and  the award is available here.
APWU wins one, loses one
Arbitrator Shyman Das has issued an award addressing two grievance arising from the APWU/Postal Service “Non-Traditional Full-Time Duty Assignments” Memorandum of Understanding. Arbitrator Das upheld the Union’s grievance concerning the retreat rights of excessed employees, but, in the “unique circumstances” of the case, concluded that the Postal Service did not violate the agreement concerning the conversion of certain employees to nontraditional full time duty assignments. Arbitrator Das’ award can be found at the APWU website here.
California Supreme Court determines courts cannot compel arbitration if the issue conflicts with the Education Code
In United Teachers of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles Unified School District the Court refused to compel arbitration of a grievance concerning the conversion of an existing public school to a charter school. The Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s decision that had compelled arbitration after finding that there was a valid arbitration agreement that had not been waived. While ultimately remanding the case for further analysis of the precise contours of the union’s grievance, the Court held that the relevant statute precluded contractual restrictions on conversions to charter schools and any attempt to arbitrate such a restriction was not subject to arbitration as a matter of law.
Illinois State Workers wage dispute referred back to arbitration
A Cook County judge has referred to an arbitrator AFSCME’s pay raise claim. The Governor claims that the legislature did not appropriate sufficient funds to pay for the rises called for in the labor agreement. While agreeing with the Governor that he cannot pay for the raises if money has not been appropriated he referred to an arbitrator for additional fact finding on the question of whether the state doesn’t have money for the raises. Judge punts on Illinois state worker pay raises, sends back to arbitration

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