Procedural Posture

Defendant union appealed an order of the Superior Court of the City and County of San Francisco (California), which vacated an arbitrator’s award finding that plaintiff employer had violated a provision of the parties’ memorandum of understanding (MOU) requiring it to meet and confer and consider in good faith the union’s alternatives to layoffs.

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The employer laid off an employee who had been an administrative clerk after first reassigning her to a job operating a forklift in a warehouse. The MOU required layoff by seniority in each classification. The employee was selected for layoff because of the short period of time she had worked in the warehouse. The employer rejected the union’s proposal to place the employee in a senior administrative clerk position because it considered the union’s proposal to be inconsistent with the MOU. The arbitrator, noting that the alternatives proposed by the union would not have violated other bargaining unit members’ contractual rights even without any modification of the MOU, determined that the employer had acted arbitrarily and without considering alternatives. The court held that the arbitrator did not exceed her powers under Code Civ. Proc., ยง 1286.2, subd. (a)(4), because the remedy imposed by the arbitrator did not conflict with the MOU. Rather, the arbitrator’s interpretation of the contract allowed her to frame a remedy that, although not expressly provided for in the MOU, was reasonably related to the arbitrator’s interpretation of the contract and was not prohibited by it.


The court reversed the order and remanded the matter with instructions to deny the motion to vacate the award and to confirm the award.

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