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. Great observation Smith. By my lights, speaking personally, they already have. They counted my religious perspective in a pro-life context as a symptom of mental illness and then violated all semblance of due process to banish me for life from the Indiana bar. The headline reveals the truth of the Hoosier elite's animus. Details here: Denied 2016 petition for cert (this time around): (“2016Pet”) Amicus brief 2016: (“2016Amici”) As many may recall, I was banned for five years for failing to "repent" of my religious views on life and the law when a bar examiner demanded it of me, resulting in a time out to reconsider my "clinging." The time out did not work, so now I am banned for life. Here is the five year time out order: Denied 2010 petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): (“2010Pet”) Read this quickly if you are going to read it, the elites will likely demand it be pulled down or pile comments on to bury it. (As they have buried me.)

  2. if the proabortion zealots and intolerant secularist anti-religious bigots keep on shutting down every hint of religious observance in american society, or attacking every ounce of respect that the state may have left for it, they may just break off their teeth.

  3. "drug dealers and traffickers need to be locked up". "we cannot afford just to continue to build prisons". "drug abuse is strangling many families and communities". "establishing more treatment and prevention programs will also be priorities". Seems to be what politicians have been saying for at least three decades now. If these are the most original thoughts these two have on the issues of drug trafficking and drug abuse, then we're no closer to solving the problem than we were back in the 90s when crack cocaine was the epidemic. We really need to begin demanding more original thought from those we elect to office. We also need to begin to accept that each of us is part of the solution to a problem that government cannot solve.

  4. What is with the bias exclusion of the only candidate that made sense, Rex Bell? The Democrat and Republican Party have created this problem, why on earth would anyone believe they are able to fix it without pushing government into matters it doesn't belong?

  5. This is what happens when daddy hands over a business to his moron son and thinks that everything will be ok. this bankruptcy is nothing more than Gary pulling the strings to never pay the creditors that he and his son have ripped off. they are scum and they know it.