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. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  2. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  3. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.

  4. rensselaer imdiana is doing same thing to children from the judge to attorney and dfs staff they need to be investigated as well

  5. Sex offenders are victims twice, once when they are molested as kids, and again when they repeat the behavior, you never see money spent on helping them do you. That's why this circle continues