Grievance Must Be Arbitrated If It Has ‘Reasonable Relationship’ To Contract

The Town of Cheektowaga, New York is party to a collective bargaining agreement with the Cheektowaga Police Club. The bargaining unit represented by the Club consists of officers below the rank of lieutenant.

The Club filed a grievance challenging the Town’s decision that it promote one officer rather than another to the rank of lieutenant. The Club contended that the Town’s decision was impermissibly based on a non-successful candidate’s residence outside of the Town of Cheektowaga.

The Town not only denied the grievance, but refused to submit to arbitration. Instead, the Town sought a permanent stay of arbitration through the court system.

The Appellate Division of New York Supreme Court rejected the Town’s position that it was not required to submit to arbitration. The Court found that “where, as here, there is a broad arbitration clause and a reasonable relationship between the subject matter of the dispute and the general subject matter of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement, the Court should rule the matter arbitrable, and the arbitrator will then make a more exacting interpretation of the precise scope of the substantive provisions of the collective bargaining agreement and whether the subject matter of the dispute fits within them.”

Since the question of promotions was “reasonably related” to the collective bargaining agreement, the Court ordered the Town to submit to arbitration.

Town of Cheektowaga, 2009 WL 281122 (N.Y.A.D. 2009).

This article appears in the March 2009 issue