Commissioners of Middlesex County v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Emp., AFL-CIO, Local 414

Decision Date29 April 1977
Docket NumberLOCAL,AFL-CI
Citation372 Mass. 466,362 N.E.2d 523
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

Augustus J. Camelio, Boston, for defendant.

Richard K. Donahue, Lowell, for plaintiff.


BRAUCHER, Justice.

County employees were discharged. Pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, their union sought arbitration on their behalf. The county commissioners sought to prevent arbitration, and later moved to vacate the arbitrator's award directing reinstatement. The motion was allowed in the Superior Court. We reverse the judgment, and order judgment confirming the award. We hold that G.L. c. 35, § 51, providing for the discharge of tenured employees, does not prevent arbitration of discharges of nontenured employees. We further hold that the arbitrator's decision was within the scope of his authority under the collective bargaining agreement.

The facts are stipulated. In February, 1973, fifteen nontenured employees of the county were discharged for leaving their employment (1) without 'punching out,' (2) without permission of their supervidsor, and (3) before completing their tours of duty. Two employees, one tenured, were discharged as supervisors for allowing employees to leave without punching out and for repeated failure to accept correction. This was their first offense. After a hearing before the superintendent of buildings and another hearing before representatives of the plaintiff county commissioners, the discharges were affirmed. The matter proceeded to arbitration on behalf of the sixteen nontenured employees, and the arbitrator ordered their reinstatement.

The agreement provided for arbitration of grievances, but added, 'The arbitrator shall not have any authority to change, modify or alter any provision of this Agreement nor shall any arbitrator have any authority to impose any obligation upon the County unless clearly required by the application of an express provision of this Agreement . . ..' As to discipline and discharges, the agreement provided for discharge 'for just cause,' and added, 'Just cause shall be as determined by the County unless it can be shown that there was no reasonable basis for the findings of fact or the decision of the County.' This provision was not to apply to employees having rights under G.L. c. 35, § 51 (tenured employees), nor to employees with less than six months service.

The judge ruled that discharge of employees, as a condition of employment, was an arbitrable issue, but that arbitration over the discharges of nontenured employees conflicted with G.L. c. 35, § 51, citing G.L. c. 149, § 178. 1 He ruled that the standard of review by the arbitrator under the agreement was substantially the same as that for judicial review of administrative agencies under G.L. c. 30A, § 14, citing for comparison New York Cent. R.R. v. Department of Pub. Works, 354 Mass. 332, 336, 237 N.E.2d 283 (1968). He upheld the arbitrator's conclusion that the county's findings of fact had a reasonable basis. But, he ruled, 'The conclusion of the Arbitrator that the decision of the County to discharge...

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6 cases
  • School Committee of Newton v. Labor Relations Com'n
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • March 24, 1983
    ...of G.L. c. 150E. See G.L. c. 150E, § 1, defining "employee." See also Commissioners of Middlesex County v. American Fed'n of State, County & Mun. Employees, Local 414, 372 Mass. 466, 468, 362 N.E.2d 523 (1977). Certainly, the question of termination of employment by layoff is one of the "te......
  • County College of Morris Staff Ass'n v. County College of Morris
    • United States
    • New Jersey Supreme Court
    • August 5, 1985
    ... ... shall also be bound by the laws of the State of New Jersey and of the United States and ... v. American Fed'n of Hosiery Workers, 31 N.J.Super. 466, 473, ... Kearny PBA Local # 21 v. Kearny, 81 N.J. 208, 221, 405 A.2d 393 ... v. Local Union No. 159, 684 F.2d 413, 414 (6th Cir.1982); Mistletoe Express Service. v ... But see Commissioner of Middlesex County v. American Federation ... Page 398 ... ...
  • Trinque v. Mount Wachusett Community College Faculty Ass'n
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • July 19, 1982
    ...granted by him were within the powers given to him by the collective bargaining agreement. See Commissioners of Middlesex County v. AFSCME Local 14, 372 Mass. 466, 468-469, 362 N.E.2d 523 (1977). We view Mrs. Trinque's contentions that the Association (a) did not call all witnesses suggeste......
  • City of Fall River v. AFSCME COUNCIL 93, LOCAL 3177, AFL-CIO., 03-P-190.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • January 12, 2004
    ...employees does not exclude them from the protection of G. L. c. 150E"). See also Commissioners of Middlesex County v. American Fedn. of State, County & Mun. Employees, AFL-CIO, Local 414, 372 Mass. 466 (1977) (in case predating passage of c. 31, § 41, court allows nontenured provisional emp......
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