Q & A

Written on 05/13/2022
Will Aitchison

From Michigan:
Question: How long can an arbitration decision in one case, be used as a precedent in another similar case within the same agency? For instance, 12 years ago an officer is found to have had sex on duty. Department proposed termination. Arbitrator reduced to a five-day suspension. Same Union, same department. Does that arbitration award hold strength in a current case for a similar discipline or can the whole thing be tried again and receive a different outcome?

Answer: There’s no bright-line answer on how long arbitration decisions involving the same parties are influential in future cases. It’s easier to identify what deprives them of continuing influence – when the parties negotiate a new agreement that changes the underlying rules. In the example you give, that might be the employer successfully negotiating a disciplinary matrix that calls for a higher penalty than that imposed in the past.

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