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Monday, September 30, 2013

No Contract Right to Arbitrate Off-Duty Work

A police officer filed a grievance with a municipality after the City failed to hire the officer to perform off-duty snow removal services for the City.  The officer claimed he had a contractual right under the union contract with the City to the snowplow work.  The City responded that the grievance was invalid because it did not implicate an "express provision" of the union contract and, therefore, under the union contract, the issue was not subject to arbitration.  The union continued to pursue the grievance and the matter eventually was assigned to an arbitrator.  The arbitrator ruled against the City, finding that the snowplow work was an "express provision" of the contract as it fell under that section of the contract that allows the City to make reasonable rules and regulations.  The City filed a complaint with the circuit court asking the court to declare whether the grievance was subject to arbitration.  The court dismissed the City's case, and the City appealed.

On appeal, the appellate court first determined that it is the court, not the arbitrator, who has the authority to determine whether a right to arbitration exists under a contract.  The court then reviewed the union contract and determined that there is "no provision in the CBA that directly states that a police officer may seek to arbitrate the City's failure to hire him to drive a snowplow while he was off duty."  Naperville v. Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, 2013 IL App (2d) 121071.  As a result, the City was not obligated to arbitrate its decision not to hire a police officer to perform off-duty snowplow work.


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