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Department of Personnel Administration et al v. Service Employees International Union

March 19, 2012

DEPARTMENT OF PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATION ET AL., PLAINTIFFS AND RESPONDENTS,
v.
SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 1000, DEFENDANT AND APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hull , J.

Dept. of Personnel Administration v. SEIU, Local 1000

CA3

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED

California Rules of Court, rule 8.1115(a), prohibits courts and parties from citing or relying on opinions not certified for publication or ordered published, except as specified by rule 8.1115(b). This opinion has not been certified for publication or ordered published for purposes of rule 8.1115.

(Super. Ct. No. 34200800009075CUPTGDS)

Defendant Service Employees International Union, Local 1000 (Local 1000) appeals from an order of the trial court granting the petition of plaintiff Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) to vacate an arbitration award in Local 1000's favor. Pursuant to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Local 1000 and the State, Local 1000 had filed a grievance on behalf of employees of the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB), classified as victim compensation specialists (VCSs), claiming the VCSs were entitled to the higher classification of staff services analyst (SSA). Approximately six months after the grievance was filed, but before the matter was submitted to arbitration, VCGCB voluntarily reclassified the VCSs to SSAs.

The grievance proceeded through its various steps and was eventually submitted to arbitration on the following issue: "Did [VCSs], who were subsequently reallocated, work out of class in violation of Section 14.2 of the [MOU] between December 2004 and December 2005?" The MOU defines "out of class" work to occur where the employee spends a majority of his or her time performing duties associated with a higher classification.

The arbitrator concluded the issue presented was ambiguous and interpreted it to be whether the VCSs should have been allocated to the SSA level during the relevant period, not whether they were working "out of class" within the meaning of the MOU. The arbitrator further concluded the VCSs were properly entitled to reallocation to the SSA classification and awarded differential back pay for the period of one year prior to the filing of the grievance.

The trial court vacated the arbitration decision, concluding the arbitrator exceeded his jurisdiction both by deciding an issue not before him and by awarding back pay. The court found the issue presented to the arbitrator was whether the VCSs had been working "out of class," as defined in the MOU. Further, because the arbitrator expressly determined the VCSs had not been working out of class and the MOU limits back pay to such situations, the court concluded the grievants were not entitled to back pay. Finally, the court ruled the award of back pay effectively changed the grievants' reallocation date, contrary to public policy.

We agree with the trial court the arbitrator exceeded his powers by deciding an issue not properly before him. We therefore affirm the order vacating the arbitration award.

Facts and Proceedings

During all times relevant to this dispute, Local 1000 was the authorized bargaining representative for the Professional, Administrative, Financial and Staff Services Bargaining Unit (Unit 1) for the State of California. Local 1000 and the State entered into the MOU, setting forth the terms and conditions of employment for members of Unit 1 for the period from July 1, 2005, through June 30, 2008.

Section 14.2 of the MOU sets forth a grievance procedure for employees claiming to have been working out of their classification or to have been misallocated to the wrong classification. Pursuant to section 14.2(A)(1) of the MOU, an employee is considered to be working "out of class" "when he/she spends a majority (i.e., more than fifty percent [50%]) of his/her time over the course of at least two (2) consecutive work weeks performing duties and responsibilities associated with a higher level existing classification that do not overlap with the classification in which said employee holds an appointment." A classification is considered a "higher level" if "the maximum salary of the highest salary range . . . is any amount more than the maximum salary of the highest range of the class in which the employee holds an appointment." (MOU § 14.2(A)(2).)

Section 14.2(D) describes the grievance procedure for both misallocation and working out of class claims. If a grievance cannot be resolved informally with the employee's supervisor, the employee must file with his or her department a grievance form provided by the State. (MOU § 14.2(D)(2).) If a grievant is not satisfied with the decision of the department, the matter may be appealed to the DPA. (MOU § 14.2(D)(5).) If the matter is not resolved by the DPA, Local 1000 may submit the grievance to arbitration. (MOU § 14.2(D)(7).) The ...


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