Monday, November 26, 2012

Labor Arbitration in the News

Retiree benefits commitment survived contract expiration

The Maryland Court of Appeals has upheld an arbitrator's award finding that Baltimore County breached its agreement with the Baltimore County Fraternal Order of Police when it increased the retiree health insurance contribution of retired police officers. The Baltimore Sun reports on the decision. State's High Court sides with Balto. Co. police union. The Court found the arbitrator properly concluded the dispute was arbitrable despite the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, adopting the vested rights analysis of Nodle Bros. and Litton. The Court also decided that in a case such as this, where a decision on arbitrability of a dispute requires consideration of the merits, the arbitrability decision initially lies with the arbitrator, not the courts. The Court's decision can be found here.

Police Officer eligible to return if he can obtain medical clearance

A Canton, Ohio police officer who had been terminated for his actions during a stop has been found eligible for reinstatement if he is medically cleared to return to work. Arbitrator Harry Graham concluded that while the grievant's conduct was admittedly an overreaction to a perceived threat, he was suffering from PTSD and his conduct was "defensible". Canton officer Daniel Harless wins job back. The article links to Arbitrator Graham's award. The officer involved is out on worker's compensation and has applied for a disability pension.

PIP improperly used for discipline

The New York Newspaper Guild prevailed in an arbitration challenging the use of performance improvement plans as a basis for discipline by Thomson Reuters. According to their report, Guild wins challenge to PIP use in discipline at Thomson Reuters, Arbitrator Carol Wittenberg determined that the use of these plans was inconsistent with a contractual commitment that performance management programs were not to be used in connection with discipline of employees. The Arbitrator observed that PIPs were supposed to be a positive tool for providing employees for feedback, not a basis for discipline or discharge of an employee.

Arbitrator challenged for ordering reinstatement to a different bargaining unit

According to a report in the Alton, Ill. Telegraph, a Madison County Circuit Court judge has remanded to the arbitrator a dispute arising from the Arbitrator's decision to reinstate a terminated police officer to a position as a jailer, a position she previously held but which was represented by a different union. Arbitrator must decide fired cop's fate. Arbitrator Steven Briggs had ruled that the officer's termination was not for just cause but apparently felt her effectiveness as a police officer had been compromised. Accordingly he ordered her reinstatement to a previously held City position.

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