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Appellate court reverses trial court in union labor dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed a trial court that had determined an arbitrator exceeded his powers when he found in favor of a labor union.

In Ayanna Wright and American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 62, Local 4009, AFL-CIO v. City of Gary, Indiana, No. 45A04-1107-PL-362, an arbitrator found that Ayanna Wright was entitled to “bump into” a job held by someone with less seniority when her job was eliminated, per terms of a collective bargaining agreement.  

The City of Gary and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 62, Local 4009, had a CBA that allowed this “bumping” procedure. Wright was a city employee and president of the Local 4009 when she was informed in 2008 that her job was being eliminated due to budgetary concerns. She elected to “bump into” an administrative assistant job held by Pamela Oliver. Oliver was an administrative assistant for the Gary Fire Civil Service Commission.

But according to Gary City Ordinance 6243, the CBA does not cover employees who have unrestricted access to confidential personnel files, as Oliver did.

Wright applied for Oliver’s job and was determined to be qualified, but a human resources manager said the city would not hire her for that job, based on ordinance 6243. Wright filed a grievance through the union, and the city and union entered arbitration, per terms of the CBA.

At the evidentiary hearing before the arbitrator, the city claimed for the first time that Oliver’s hire date was earlier than Wright’s, and the attorney for the GFCSC cited Gary City Ordinance 5882, which allows it to select its own administrative assistant.

The COA wrote that the arbitrator’s findings that the GFCSC’s administrative assistant position was covered by the CBA and that Wright had greater seniority for bumping were a proper exercise of his powers, and he did not exceed his powers by ordering Wright to be placed in Oliver’s position. “The trial court essentially conducted an improper de novo review and erred by concluding that Arbitrator Archer exceeded his powers merely because he did not reach the same conclusion as the trial court,” the appellate court wrote in its opinion.

Judge Cale Bradford dissented, writing, “In my view, the City can challenge the underlying CBA on appeal just like any other contract, and if it runs afoul of Ordinance 5882, we should refuse to enforce it to that extent.”


 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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