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Appeal of Hillsborough County Nursing Home

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

September 12, 2014

Appeal of Hillsborough County Nursing Home (New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board)

Submitted June 26, 2014.

Page 1187

Public Employee Labor Relations Board.

Carolyn M. Kirby, of Goffstown, by brief, for Hillsborough County Nursing Home.

Law Offices of Shawn J. Sullivan, PLLC, of Concord ( Shawn J. Sullivan on the brief), for AFSCME, Local 2715.

LYNN, J. DALIANIS, C.J., and HICKS, CONBOY, and BASSETT, JJ., concurred.

OPINION

Page 1188

Lynn, J.

The Hillsborough County Nursing Home (County) appeals the decision of the New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB), which found that the County committed an unfair labor practice by refusing to participate in the arbitration of employment grievances filed by AFSCME, Local 2715 (Union), the union representing certain nursing home employees. We affirm.

The following facts were found by the PELRB. The County and the Union are parties to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that expired June 30, 2013. In June 2011, the County notified certain nursing home employees, including Patricia Perkins, Diana Maurice, and Joan Gendron, that their positions would be eliminated in August 2011 due to budget reductions. After the employees exercised contractual " bumping rights," the County informed them of their new positions. Perkins and Maurice were moved into full-time positions in a different department with different work schedules, and Gendron was moved from a full-time position to a part-time position. The County also informed a fourth employee, Pamela Bennett, that her work schedule would change. All four employees filed grievances, asserting that the changes violated the CBA.

Article 16.1 of the CBA provides:

[A] grievance is defined as a complaint or claim by an employee or group of employees in the bargaining unit or the Union specifying the names of the bargaining unit employees involved, the date(s) of the alleged offense(s) and the specific Contract provision(s) involved which arises under and during the terms of this Agreement.

[166 N.H. 733] Article 16.1 also contains a grievance procedure consisting of four steps: Step 1 -- discuss the grievance with immediate supervisor; Step 2 -- present written grievance to the Administrator; Step 3 -- file written grievance with the Commissioners; and Step 4 -- submit written request to the PELRB to appoint an arbitrator to resolve the grievance. Article 16.4 of the CBA provides: " If the grievance is not reported and/or processed within [the applicable time limits specified in the CBA], the matter shall be deemed waived and no further action will be taken with respect to such grievance unless both parties mutually agree to an extension of said time limits."

The parties failed to resolve the grievances, and in January 2012, the Union sent Request for Appointment of Arbitrator forms to the County. The County refused to arbitrate the grievances, alleging that the Union had failed to timely file them and follow the grievance procedure and that the grievances were therefore waived under Articles 16.1 and 16.4 of the CBA. Thereafter, both the Union and the County filed unfair labor practice complaints with the PELRB. After an evidentiary hearing, the PELRB found that the County committed an unfair labor practice when it refused to participate in arbitration because the CBA provides for final and binding arbitration. It further found that the County's timeliness and failure to follow grievance procedure defenses raised issues of ...


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