City Union takes the case to court | News, Sports, Jobs
The union representing employees of the Jamestown Public Works Department is asking the state Supreme Court to enforce an arbitrator’s decision.
AFSCME New York Council 66, Local 418, filed a Section 75 proceeding in the state Supreme Court in Mayville on Thursday. The union is asking the court to require the City to reimburse wages associated with a union grievance arising from a promotion dispute. Arbitrator Douglas Bantle issued a decision on August 8 and the union is unhappy that no action has been taken in the month since the decision.
“This petition to uphold the decision has become necessary due to the refusal of the city and its recalcitrant supervisors, without justification, to honor and implement Arbitrator Bantle’s full decision in this matter,” wrote attorney Jeffrey N. Mis, the union’s attorney. “The city’s blatant refusal to honor and implement arbitrator Bantle’s decision is done without legal basis and contrary to the process negotiated by the union and the city in their collective agreement.”
Bantle was asked to mediate a dispute between the city and one of its public works department mechanics who felt he had been unjustly passed over for a promotion in violation of civil service rules. The employee had a seniority rank higher than the employee that DPW officials had selected for an open IV mechanic position in the Fleet Maintenance Division. Department heads and managers decided to promote the junior employee, claiming that the senior employee did not have the skills or abilities required for the IV mechanic position.
City officials also raised questions about the senior employee’s seniority with the Fleet Management Division. While the aggrieved employee had seniority in the Public Works Department, the other employee had seniority in the Fleet Management Division.
“The issue of separate divisions within the bargaining unit has come up for different situations in the past,” City Fleet Manager Patrick Monaghan wrote in a February 2022 letter to AFSCME Local 418 Shop Steward William Griffith in a letter regarding the grievance. “Although the concept of divisional seniority is not explicitly stated in the CTC, it is nevertheless recognized and practiced in the daily operations of each division, in particular with overtime lists and temporary replacements of positions, such as during the absence of a team leader. In these cases, seniority is recognized among the members of the division and not in the bargaining unit as a whole. If there is tacit recognition of separate divisions by this practice, then it should also be recognized by giving members priority consideration for promotions that occur within their own divisions.
The grievance moved quickly through the first two stages of the grievance process set out in the city’s contract with the union. The third stage has been delayed for about two months, with discussions on the issue taking place until the June 28 appointment of Bantle to arbitrate the dispute.
Bantle decided that the parties agreed on the basic facts at issue, agreeing that the issue centered on how the wording of the contract should be interpreted. The City’s arguments included that it could not be expected to meet the timelines included in the contract without all required documentation being submitted for each step to follow. Bantle found that there was no such language in the contract between the union and the city, and that these issues were not raised during the process.
In the end, the arbitrator decided that there was no issue to be decided because the city had failed to meet the contractually agreed deadlines in each of the three grievances before him.
“The city did not provide the contractually required responses and/or meetings in a timely manner,” Bantle wrote in his decision. “Therefore, the union’s position, on each of the grievances, ‘shall be considered the resolution of the default grievance.'” […]This arbitrator concludes that the union has provided sufficient evidence to support its position with respect to the three grievances. Accordingly, the union’s grievances are upheld. This is my reward.