Sunday, May 29, 2016

Quick Hits: Timeliness, vacation selection, Deflategate and conduct unbecoming

Arbitrator exceeded authority ruling on the merits after finding grievance untimely

 Amalgamated Transit  Union, Local 85 grieved the actions of the Port Authority of Allegheny County in unilaterally revising its performance code governing absenteeism. At the arbitration the Port Authority maintained  that the grievance was untimely, and even if timely was without merit. The Arbitrator agreed that the grievance as untimely but ruled further that in any event the PA had not breached the contract. The Union sought to vacate that portion of the decision addressing the merits of the grievance. It claimed that once the arbitrator determined the grievance was untimely the arbitrator was without authority to rule on the merits. The trial court rejected the Union's efforts, finding that the Union had never sought to bifurcate the procedural from the substantive issues. On appeal the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania reversed. It agreed with the Union, concluding:  " Because the merits portion of the arbitration award cannot logically flow from the CBA due to the arbitration panel's disposition as to timeliness, the arbitration award does not satisfy the essence test."
The Court's opinion can be found here.

City erred in canceling vacations during Republican convention 

The City of Cleveland, in anticipation of hosting the Republican National Convention, announced that no vacations would be approved for the time period surrounding the convention. The Cleveland Police Patrolmen's Association grieved this decision as contrary to its cba. The parties agreement provided for 52 one week "furlough" [vacation] periods during the calendar year and further provided that the same number of officers would be on furlough during each of the furlough periods. Arbitrator Alan Miles Ruben upheld the Union's grievance. He found that the management rights provision of the cba did not override the explicit language of the cba. However, in light of the disruption that would be created in recanvassing for vacation, and the undisputed need for an "all hands" response, he ordered the City to pay the most senior fifty (the number otherwise eligible for vacation)  Patrol Officers scheduled on duty, in seniority rotation, time at the call in rate overtime rate. reports  on the decision and links to the award here.

Two briefs filed seeking reconsideration of Deflategate decision

 The NFL Players Association has filed a request for reconsideration with the Second Circuit, seeking a rehearing of the Court's decision upholding the suspension of Tom Brady. A copy of the Union's brief is available here. The New England Patriots filed  an amicus brief in support of the request.

Termination of police officer for racially derogatory text messages upheld

Arbitrator Carey M. Fischer has upheld the termination of a Fort Lauderdale police officer who engaged in an exchange with coworkers of text messages containing "disparaging and offensive racial terminology." Arbitrator Fischer rejected the officer's claims that the messages had been improperly intercepted, that he had a right to privacy in communicating with fellow officers, and that his communications were protected by the First Amendment. The arbitrator observed: "The heat of battle is one thing; denigrating a whole group as part of one's personal entertainment is another. A slip of the tongue in a fit of pique or a one time indiscretion maybe allowable. But, the conduct in this case is not." Accordingly he upheld the decision of the City that grievant had engaged in "conduct unbecoming a police officer" and found sufficient cause for dismissal. Local10 reports on the case and links to Arbitrator Fischer's award here.

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