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Union’s Request For “Clarification” Of Arbitration Award Denied
LCW Partner Adrianna Guzman and Associate Attorney Jolina Abrena successfully represented a county in opposing a union’s request for clarification of an arbitration award involving a deputy sheriff. The union’s request came more than two years after arbitration.
In the original arbitration, a deputy sheriff grieved the removal of his training duties while assigned to a field training officer (FTO) position. The memorandum of understanding (MOU) provided that an FTO receives bonus pay only when assigned training duties. In July 2018, the original arbitration decision found that the department violated the MOU by not providing the deputy with training duties. The arbitrator ordered that the deputy be reinstated as an FTO with training duties and awarded him the bonus pay he would have received had the department not removed those duties. After the arbitrator issued his arbitration decision and award, the union requested that the arbitrator retain jurisdiction until November 21, 2018. Since the union did not seek to re-open the arbitration proceedings, the decision became final and binding on November 22, 2018.
In April 2021, approximately 29 months after the arbitration decision became final and binding, the union requested that the arbitrator clarify the arbitration award. Specifically, the union alleged that the deputy was entitled to “Senior FTO” bonus pay – a higher level of bonus pay – from the time his training duties were removed until the department reinstated those duties in compliance with the arbitration award in 2018. The union argued that its request for clarification did not represent a “reopening” of the prior arbitration because the request did not require consideration of additional testimony or documentation.
The department opposed the union’s request for clarification on the grounds that the union waited more than two years after the original decision became final and binding to make its request. The department further noted that the union had the opportunity to submit an application to correct the arbitration decision and award under Code of Civil Procedure Section 1284 or to file a petition to correct the arbitration decision and award pursuant to Section 1285.8 and 1288, but failed to do either. The arbitrator agreed, noting that he had neither the authority nor the jurisdiction to clarify the award. Accordingly, the arbitrator denied the union’s request for clarification.
LCW was able to prove that the union was not simply seeking a “clarification” of the arbitration award, but was trying to reopen or correct an arbitration decision and award without a timely motion.