Sometimes, a union contract clashes with employment laws. It’s then up to an arbitrator to reconcile the two—and an arbitrator’s decision is rarely overturned on appeal.
Recent case: The Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority concluded it should force its employees who want to take to use up their paid leave concurrently. This practice prevents employees from first taking all paid leave and then taking another unpaid leave.
Union members filed a grievance, arguing that the move would effectively strip them of vacation if they got sick. The arbitrator told the authority it could force employees to use up no more than 25% of paid leave. The authority appealed, but the court said it would let the arbitrator’s interpretation stand. (BTOBA v. Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, No. 4904N, Supreme Court of NY, Appellate Division, 2008)
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