Public Employee Press
Union wins key issue vs. DOE
Ruling protects members rights in discipline
DC 37 didnt win the battle but it won a war over
members rights in disciplinary hearings that do not result in discharge.
Although an impartial arbitration panel ruled that the Dept. of Education
had good and sufficient reason to discipline the union member, it also
resolved the broader issue of standard of review in disciplinary cases
in favor of the union.
The grievance went to Step 3, and was later heard by a Step 4 panel, which
examined the standard of review question. DOE argued that the principals
decision to discipline the member could only be overturned if the union
could show that it was arbitrary and capricious or based on bias.
DC37 countered that the proper standard for reversing the disciplinary
action is whether in the judgment of the arbitrator there was good and
sufficient reason to discipline the employee.
DC 37 attorney Steven Sykes argued that in the unions 30-year history
with DOE, while the contract lacks specific language, both parties have
consistently applied the good and sufficient reason standard when the
union has grieved discipline less than discharge.
He cited cases dating back to 1975 as precedents.
In defense of the arbitrary and capricious standard, DOE attorneys cited
cases that involved employees covered by the Teachers Union contract
which is not DC 37s contract and was therefore irrelevant.
The grievance panel found that in matters involving DC 37 members, the
appropriate standard of review, consistent with past practice, is whether
there is good and sufficient reason to discipline the employee.
This was a very important decision for DC 37, said Sykes.
The arbitrator affirmed the unions position that discipline
less than termination is subject to the same standard as termination cases.
Diane S. Williams