Thursday, March 5, 2015

Arbitration Is More Efficient, Except when It Isn't

Assoc. of L.A. Deputy Sheriffs v. Cnty. of L.A., No. B254982 (Feb. 17, 2015)

The union representing thousands of Deputy Sheriffs claims that they are being deprived of pay for so-called donning and doffing time under the terms of their collective bargaining agreement. The CBA requires members to grieve that kind of issue in an individual, not a class, arbitration. The union tried to sidestep that obligation by filing a case in superior court. When the county moved to compel, the union argued that Code of Civil Procedure § 1281.2(c) afforded the court discretion to stay the arbitrations pending a class-wide interpretation of certain terms of the MOU.  The trial court agreed, but the court of appeal reverses.  

Section 1281.2 lets the court stay an arbitration pending a decision on issues  “not subject to arbitration,” which might moot the need to arbitrate. Because the interpretation of the CBA was clearly arbitrable, § 1281.2(c)’s not subject to arbitration rule couldn't apply. So even if it would have been more efficient to for the court to globally decide the question, instead of having it decided 10,000 times in different arbitrations, that’s what the CBA and the law required.

Reversed.

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