CITY OF NEW BRITAIN v. AFSCME, COUNCIL 4, LOCAL 1186, SC 18671
Judicial District of New Britain
Arbitration; Collective Bargaining; Whether Issue Regarding Pay Rate Differential Between Foremen and Subordinates Was Arbitrable. The plaintiff city and defendant union negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that was effective from July 1, 2003, to June 30, 2008. In January, 2006, the parties negotiated a number of upgrades that had the effect of increasing the pay of certain members of the bargaining unit. In connection with this agreement, the parties also signed a memorandum of understanding, which provided that arbitration would not be used to redress upgrades not resolved in the negotiations. Upon implementation of the new pay rates, it was discovered that supervisors, classified as “foremen,” were being paid a differential that was less than 5 percent more than the rate being paid to the employees whom they supervised, which was in contravention of the plaintiff’s civil service regulations. The foremen, as a class, filed an unfair labor practice complaint, which was subsequently withdrawn when the plaintiff and the defendant reached a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement provided that the defendant “may file a grievance regarding the issue of [f]oremen being paid less than 5 [percent] more than their subordinates” with the state board of mediation and arbitration. It further provided that either party may raise any claim or defense, including the issue of arbitrability. Thereafter, pursuant to the settlement agreement, the defendant filed a grievance and the matter was submitted for arbitration, where the arbitrators issued an award in favor of the defendant. Subsequently, the trial court denied the plaintiff’s application to vacate the arbitration award, and the plaintiff appealed. Before the Appellate Court, the plaintiff claimed, inter alia, that the trial court should have vacated the arbitration award because the issue of foremen’s pay differential was not arbitrable based on the January, 2006 memorandum of understanding. The Appellate Court (121 Conn. App. 564) rejected this claim. The court observed that although the parties, in negotiating the upgrades in January, 2006, originally agreed that arbitration would not be used to redress the issue of upgrades, the plaintiff, eight months later, agreed to arbitrate the foremen’s grievance as part of its settlement agreement with the defendant. In light of these circumstances, the court stated that it could not conclude that the parties intended to exclude the issue of foremen’s pay differential from arbitration. Thereafter, the court rejected the plaintiff’s remaining claims and affirmed the trial court’s judgment. In this appeal, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Appellate Court properly determined that the issue of foremen’s pay differential was arbitrable.