Criteria for Whether Public Employer/Employee Dispute Is Arbitrable Explained
The Second Department determined the village’s petition to stay arbitration was properly denied. The firefighters’ union filed a grievance when the town decided to lay off six bargaining unit members and assign bargaining unit work to nonbargaining unit volunteers. Supreme Court determined the parties had agreed to arbitrate these matters in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The court explained the criteria for determining whether a public employer/employee dispute is arbitrable:
” The determination of whether a dispute between a public sector employer and employee is arbitrable is subject to [a] two-prong test'” …” Initially, the court must determine whether there is any statutory, constitutional, or public policy prohibition against arbitrating the grievance'” … . “If there is no prohibition against arbitrating, the court must examine the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and determine if they in fact agreed to arbitrate the particular dispute” … .
Here, the petitioner argued that arbitration of layoffs of union-member firefighters is prohibited by public policy. Regarding a violation of public policy, “a dispute is not arbitrable if a court can conclude “without engaging in any extended factfinding or legal analysis” that a law “prohibit[s], in an absolute sense, [the] particular matters [to be] decided’ by arbitration”‘ … . The petitioner failed to point to any law or public policy that would prohibit arbitration of the grievance. * * *
The grievances were reasonably related to the general subject matter of the CBA and, therefore, the petitioner’s management rights granted under Article XVII, and “the question of the scope of the substantive provisions of the CBA [are] a matter of contract interpretation and application reserved for the arbitrator” … . Matter of Village of Garden City v Local 1588, Professional Firefighters Assn., 2015 NY Slip Op 07672, 2nd Dept 10-21-15