PELRB Has Limited Review of Arbitrator’s Decision

Appeal of Laconia School District (New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board)
Appeal of Laconia School District (New Hampshire Public Employee Labor Relations Board)
No. 2002-670
Friday, January 30, 2004
The issue in this case was whether the PELRB had jurisdiction to review an arbitrator’s decision.

The district had reassigned a middle school teacher to an elementary school teaching position. The Laconia Education Association believed the reassignment was disciplinary in nature based on the teacher’s union activity, and it filed a grievance alleging two violations of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the district and the association. After the district denied the grievance, the association filed a demand for arbitration pursuant to the grievance procedure set forth in the CBA. The association also filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the PELRB.

The district moved to dismiss the unfair labor practice complaint, arguing that the parties’ CBA called for binding arbitration. The PELRB ordered the association and the district to proceed to arbitration.

The arbitrator upheld the grievance and directed the district to reassign the teacher to his prior position. The district filed a request for a hearing before the PELRB to review the arbitrator’s decision. Following a hearing, the PELRB ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to review the decision. The district appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

Citing the case of Board of Trustees of the University System of New Hampshire v. Keene State College Education Association, 126 N.H. 339 (1985), the Court held that “it is in conjunction with a subsequent unfair labor practice complaint alleging that the arbitrator’s award has not been implemented that the PELRB has jurisdiction to review the arbitrator’s award.” Thus, the PELRB has jurisdiction over allegations that the arbitrator’s award is not being implemented, and it does not have jurisdiction over the question of whether the award was proper in the first instance.