After reviewing the description (attached) Read the scenario detailing the labor relations grievance you'll be discussing (Attached). Then, answer the three questions below.
The answer to each question should have its own dedicated paragraph, consisting of approximately 4-6 sentences each. This assignment is a writing/research exercise, so please verbalize self-created full sentences in paragraph form, and refrain from using bullet-style lists.
The “You Be the Arbitrator” discussions will present you with a scenario including (a) the facts of an actual labor relations grievance, and (b) the positions of both the management and the union. Students will play the role of arbitrator (similar to a judge) and decide the outcome of the case.
Students will be provided with the details of an actual grievance case that could not be decided by management and union representatives. Therefore, the case has been referred to an arbitrator to make a “final and binding” decision both parties have agreed to accept. Students will play the role of an arbitrator (judge) and carefully read the facts, relevant section(s) of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and the positions of the parties. Then, you will answer some discussion questions.
Part of the discussion asks you to render a decision as a neutral, third-party arbitrator. This is often referred to as an "award and opinion."
Arbitrator decisions contain two parts. The first part involves an “award” that one side has asked for, but the other side hasn’t agreed to. For example, in cases involving a terminated employee, the union may ask that the employee be reinstated and given back pay equal to the pay they missed. The award might or might not grant one or both requests. The second part is an “opinion.” This is a statement explaining the rationale behind the award, often citing critical facts of the case, a position of one of the parties, or even common sense. However, it should not simply be a personal opinion.
To determine the award and opinion, you should look first to the relevant section(s) of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which will be provided in the discussion prompt. The language of the CBA is the most important factor to be considered by an arbitrator. If the CBA language does not enable the arbitrator to make a decision, then they should examine the facts and other evidence from the case, past practices (what actions were taken in similar cases), relevant facts from past negotiations, and common industry practice to reach a decision.
Other aspects of the discussion will ask you to (a) identify the key sections, phrases, or words from the CBA that were critical in making your decision, and (b) explain what actions the employer and/or the union might have taken to avoid this conflict.
The keys to making good arbitration decisions include: (1) remain objective – set aside any feelings about unions and management, (2) use the language of the CBA for direction – if it’s vague or if two sections conflict, consider what was the likely intention of the negotiators, (3) consider past practice – the lack of consistency compared to similar cases may be significant, and (4) does the penalty equal the offense? In some cases, guilt is not the issue, but rather, was the penalty equal to the level of the offense?
YOU BE THE ARBITRATOR Bereavement Leave
ARTICLE 23 BEREAVEMENT LEAVE
Section 23.1. If a death occurs in the employee’s immediate family (spouse, children), employee’s family (mother, father, stepparents), a grandfather, grandmother, father-in-law, mother- in-law, person in loco parentis, and any member of the employee’s family residing in the employee’s residence, such employee shall be granted three (3) days’ funeral leave, consecutive and contigu- ous to the death without loss of pay, benefits, days off, holidays, or vacation time, provided that such leave may be extended, within discretion of the Sheriff, based on individual circumstances. If the death requires that the employee travel more than 200 miles, the Sheriff may, at the request of the employee, allow up to two (2) additional workdays as a bereavement leave.
The employer provides the statutory law enforcement services to the citizens of Fulton County, Ohio. The grievant is a deputy. The grievant worked on the night shift, and his days off were Wednesday and Thursday. On the evening of Thursday, June 21, the grievant’s paternal grandmother died. The grievant was not informed of her death until after he had finished his shift on Friday, June 22. He was also informed that the funeral was going to be Sunday, June 24. The grievant reported for work for his regular shift on Saturday, June 23. The grievant then informed his supervisor of the death and indicated that he would be taking Sunday, June 24, off to attend the funeral. The grievant’s request was approved, and the grievant then requested two additional days of bereavement leave, that is, Monday, June 25, and Tuesday, June 26, which was made known to the grievant’s supervisors. The grievant filled out a “Request for Leave” form as required. However, after the fact, the employer reviewed his request in light of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA)
and decided the grievant was not entitled to bereavement pay for Tuesday on the ground that the three days of bereavement leave here should have been Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Nevertheless, the employer chose only to disallow the Tuesday bereavement pay. The grievant appealed.
Did the employer violate the provisions of the CBA when it denied bereavement leave to the grievant?
Position of the Parties
The employer argues that under the CBA, the grant of three days’ funeral leave must be consecutive and contiguous to the death (see Article 23, Bereavement Leave). So grievant was entitled to bereavement pay only for Sunday, as the death occurred on Thursday. The approval of any extension of that leave is within the discre- tion of the sheriff, who in this instance approved one day of the extension, Monday. Therefore, the grievant is not en- titled to bereavement pay for Tuesday.
The union argues that the CBA does not require that the three bereavement days begin on the “first day” after the death, just that the days be near the death and be consecutive and contiguous to each other. When the employer approved the grievant’s request for Sunday off, the three days of bereavement began, which means Monday and Tuesday should also count as bereavement days.
Source: Adapted from Fulton County Sheriff, 116 LA 1773 (Arb. 2002).
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