TEAMSTERS LOCAL NO 580 V CITY OF LANSINGAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
TEAMSTERS LOCAL NO 580,
May 26, 1998
Ingham Circuit Court
LC No. 95-080724-CL
CITY OF LANSING,
Before: O’Connell, P.J., and White and Bandstra, JJ.
Defendant appeals as of right the circuit court’s order granting plaintiff’s motion for summary
disposition, and denying defendant’s motion, in this action to compel arbitration under a collective
bargaining agreement. We affirm.
Plaintiff and defendant are parties to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Plaintiff filed a
grievance claiming defendant violated the CBA in filling the vacant position of Wastewater Field
Supervisor, Level 33, after defendant filled the position with a non-Teamster. At each step of the
grievance process, defendant denied the grievance. Plaintiff informed defendant that it intended to
resolve the matter through arbitration and defendant took the position that the dispute was not subject to
arbitration under the CBA. Plaintiff filed suit to compel arbitration, and the circuit court ordered
arbitration, concluding that the CBA did not expressly exempt the dispute from the arbitration clause
and that defendants other defenses lacked merit.
The CBA’s Management Rights provisions makes defendant’s rights with respect to the
selection of employees for promotion subject to the provisions of Article 6. Article 6, Section 1,
entitled “Permanent Transfer” states that “[a]ll qualified Teamsters who sign the job posting shall be
given consideration in accordance with Personnel Procedure 27.” Article 6 further provides:
The following conditions shall apply in awarding positions to qualified employees:
A. Positions in Salary Level 27 and Above.
The position will be awarded to the most qualified employee, taking into
account his/her qualifications, knowledge, skills, ability, experience, and seniority. The
employer will not by-pass Teamster Supervisory or Clerical, Technical and Professional
bargaining unit members who bid on positions except to hire a significantly more
Personnel Procedure 27 provides in relevant part:
4) Prior to issuing referrals to the hiring department, the Personnel Department will
work with the hiring department to develop an objective, job related selection process
designed to evaluate an employee’s potential to satisfactorily perform the duties of the
position. The selection process will be submitted to the Personnel Department for
review and approval and include the following:
d) The hiring department must establish the criteria by which the selection process will
be evaluated . . . . Seniority shall be included as one of the evaluation criteria, with
the weight of seniority being clearly defined relative to the other criteria. All
disputes over the seniority issue shall be resolved in a special conference with
management making the final determination. All unreasonable determinations can be
appealed under the grievance procedure.1
i) A hiring department by-passing a Teamster candidate to recommend
a non-bargaining unit member must provide the Personnel
Department with written rationale as to how the recommended
applicant is “significantly” more qualified than the Teamster
applicant(s). If the Personnel Department disagrees with the
decision of the hiring department, a meeting shall be convened with
the hiring department and Labor Relations . . . . Issues that cannot
be resolved shall ultimately be decided by the Hiring Committee.
The decision of the Hiring Committee shall not prevent Teamster
applicants from exercising their rights under Article 11 Grievance
Procedures. [Emphasis added.]
Article 11 provides:
Any grievance . . . which concerns promotions, demotions, reclassification or layoffs
shall be presented at Step 3 of the grievance procedure.
Under Article 11, Step 3 of the grievance procedure provides for review by defendant’s Labor
Relations Administrator. Step 4 provides for a special conference between union representatives and
city representatives, and for binding arbitration if the grievance is not resolved at the conference.
The CBA also included a “Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Personnel
Procedure 27.” The memorandum states:
During the 1990 contract negotiations between the Teamster Supervisory, Clerical,
Technical, and Professional bargaining units in the City of Lansing, the City’s Personnel
selection process was discussed. At that time it was determined that the City would
modify the procedure to address several other concerns raised by the bargaining unit.
During the course of this agreement, either party may advise the other party of problems
arising out of the implementation of the above mentioned procedure. All disputes
unresolved shall be the subject of a special conference with management making the
final determination for resolution.
Defendant asserts that the memorandum of understanding expressly excludes unresolved
disputes arising under Personnel Procedure 27 from arbitration. We disagree. While the memorandum
can be so interpreted, such an interpretation is by no means compelled.
The CBA clearly contemplates the arbitration of unresolved disputes regarding promotion. It is
also clear that Personnel Procedure 27 contemplates the exercise of Article 11 grievance and arbitration
rights in the event a Teamster applicant is not satisfied with the decision of the Hiring Committee.
Admittedly, the intent of the memorandum of understanding is unclear. The language “all disputes
unresolved” seems to refer to problems one party has brought to the attention of the other, arising out of
the implementation of the procedure. The memorandum does not expressly negate the right to invoke
Article 11 rights that is otherwise made express in Personnel Procedure 27. Moreover, Personnel
Procedure 27 contemplates, in a single subparagraph, (4)(d), the coexistence of “a special conference
with management making the final determination,” and the appeal of such a determination under the
grievance procedure. Under these circumstances, we cannot agree with defendant that the
memorandum of understanding expressly excludes the subject dispute from the broad coverage of the
CBA’s arbitration clause.
Arbitration of labor disputes is favored, and Michigan courts follow the rule that:
An order to arbitrate the particular grievance should not be denied unless it may be said
with positive assurance that the arbitration clause is not susceptible of an interpretation
that covers the asserted dispute. Doubts should be resolved in favor of coverage.”
(Emphasis supplied.) Absent an “express provision excluding [a] particular grievance
from arbitration” or the “most forceful evidence of a purpose to exclude the claim”,
(emphasis supplied) the matter should go to arbitration. [KND School District v KND
School Teacher Assn, 393 Mich 583, 592; 277 NW2d 500 (1975), quoting United
Steelworkers of America v Warrior & Gulf Navigation Co, 363 US 574, 582-583;
80 S Ct 1347; 4 L Ed 2d 1409 (1960).]
The memorandum of understanding is ambiguous and does not expressly exempt the subject dispute
from arbitration. We therefore affirm.
/s/ Peter D. O’Connell
/s/ Helene N. White
/s/ Richard A. Bandstra
An addendum to the memorandum set forth the procedure for considering seniority as one of the