Subcontracting Prohibition Can Be Implied In Contract

The Professional Firefighters Association of Nassau County, New York, is party to a collective bargaining agreement with the Village of Garden City. The agreement contains no clause governing subcontracting or the assignment of bargaining unit work to non-bargaining unit personnel.

When the Village began assigning volunteers to operate first-line fire equipment, the Association filed a grievance. An arbitrator upheld the grievance, concluding that a ban on subcontracting was implied by several clauses in the collective bargaining agreement, and that a ban was supported by a long-standing past practice. The Village challenged the Arbitrator’s decision in court, arguing that the Arbitrator exceeded her jurisdiction by granting the grievance in the absence of specifically controlling contract language.

An appeals court upheld the Arbitrator’s ruling. The Court found that “the challenged arbitration award did not exceed a specifically enumerated limitation on the Arbitrator’s power. Rather, the Arbitrator acted within her broad authority under the collective bargaining agreement by relying upon the prior agreements and past practices of the parties in interpreting the provisions of the agreement, and in determining that the Village violated it by assigning the operation of first-line equipment to volunteer firefighters rather than to paid firefighters represented by the Association. Similarly, the Arbitrator’s award was neither irrational nor violative of public policy.”

Professional Firefighters Association of Nassau County v. Village of Garden City, 989 N.Y.S.2d 327 (N.Y. A.D. 2014).