Sandulli Grace, PC, wins another arbitration for MBTA Union

Just one day week the Alliance of MBTA Unions scored a victory against the MBTA in an arbitration about meal allowances , another neutral arbitrator ruled that the MBTA violated its collective bargaining agreement with the Alliance by excluding the Union president and two members from a lottery to resolve a seniority tie between the two members. The agreement between the Alliance and the MBTA states that a “lottery shall be used to break the tie” in seniority between two members who receive their permanent assignment on the same date. Here, the MBTA held a lottery without inviting or notifying the Alliance and the two affected members. The Union president testified that this secretive lottery was inconsistent with past lotteries, where members and the Association were permitted to observe. The Alliance grieved the MBTA’s secret lottery and the arbitrator ruled that the employer violated the contract.Even though the contract did not spell out exactly how a lottery must be conducted, the Arbitrator ruled that “some standards of fundamental fairness must be present in the conduct of a lottery under … the Agreement.” The Authority has discretion in creating and implementing the lottery. But, “[a]t a minimum, notice must be provided to the Union and to the employees subject to the lottery so they be present, should they desire, to view the results.” This arbitration decision affirms that basic ideas of due process – consistency, notice and an opportunity to be heard – are generally useful when interpreting ambiguous contract language.The Arbitrator also rejected the MBTA’s last-minute claim that the Alliance’s grievance was untimely, noting that the MBTA itself was delinquent observing the proposed timelines under the grievance provision. The parties by their conduct, ruled the arbitrator, waived the deadlines under the contract.MBTA Seniority Victory

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