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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. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  2. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  3. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  4. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  5. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

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