Sunday, February 21, 2016

February Quick Hits

USM followed contract in layoff of faculty

Arbitrator Mark Irvings largely rejected a grievance filed by the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine  challenging the University's "retrenchment" (layoff) of faculty at USM resulting from economic pressures. While the Union challenged the need for layoffs, and offered its own analysis of the financial health of the system, Arbitrator Mark Irvings concluded that the University acted "for bona fide financial or program reasons" within the meaning of the cba. 
The Portland Press Herald reports on the decision USM followed contract when it laid off faculty members in 2014, arbitrator rules and links to a redacted copy of the award here. 

Court: Arbitrator did not ignore last chance agreement, upholds award

The US District Court for the Southern District has refused to overturn an award of Arbitrator Robert Simmelkjaer.  UNITE HERE Local 100 v. Westchester Hills Golf Club, Inc. Arbitrator Simmelkjaer sustained the grievance filed behalf of a bartender who had been dismissed. In 2010 Arbitrator Susan Mackenzie reinstated grievant following his termination for insubordination but imposed a last chance condition. Separately, the Golf Club entered into a last chance agreement with grievant in settlement of a dispute about a proposed termination in 201. In 2013 grievant was working as a bartender at a bereavement lunch. A participant complained about his behavior and the Club again terminated his employment. Arbitrator Simmelkjaer found that the Club had not established that grievant engaged in the conduct alleged. Additionally, he concluded that the last chance agreement entered into in 2011 was unenforceable because the Union was not a party to the agreement. He rejected the Club's claim that, since grievant was a shop steward, further participation by the Union was unnecessary. The Court concluded that the Arbitrator acted within the scope of his authority and his award was entitled to confirmation. (A similar issue is addressed in Last chance agreement doesn't bar arbitration when union is not a party)

City to appeal order confirming award reinstating police officer

Arbitrator Mark Reed sustained a grievance filed on behalf of a Guthrie, Oklahoma police officer dismissed for his actions in arresting his wife's ex-husband. Arbitrator Reed's award can be found here. The Arbitrator concluded that grievant's conduct warranted severe discipline but that an unfair investigation and grievant's length of service supported mitigation of the penalty. The City unsuccessfully sought to set aside the award, and it has now indicated its intent to appeal that decision. City Council appeals judge ruling that former Guthrie police officer should be reinstated.

Police discipline 

A column in the San Antonio Express News reviews the arbitration award that reinstated an officer involved in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend and asserts Union undermines police chief in appeal process. The article links to the award of Arbitrator LeRoy Bartman here.

The issue of police discipline is the subject of news articles in Texas (Police disciplinary process questioned by McManus), Massachusetts (Discipline for Boston police officers frequently overturned Arbitrators rule in favor of officers three out of four times),  New York (Schenectady to appeal police discipline case to state's highest court) and California (How San Jose cop fired for combative Black Lives Matter tweets got his job back).

Court confirms award upholding termination of oboist

The District Court for the Western District of New York has rejected an effort to overturn an award of Arbitrator Robert Rabin upholding a termination. Grievant was an oboist with the Boston Philharmonic. The Court rejected the unsuccessful grievant's challenges to the arbitrator's evidentiary rulings, and declined the grievant's invitation to find a violation of public policy in the award. The Court denied grievant's claim that an award upholding a termination was contrary to public policy "because his profession as an oboist is extremely limited in terms of job opportunities."  The court's decision in Roy v. Buffalo Philharmonic Society, Inc. can be found here.

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