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Arbitrator resolves SAD 46 debate

Grievances are a low-cost efficient means of resolving debates over contract language when the parties have differing interpretations over what the contract says or how it applies to a given situation.

Rather than let an issue fester or become an expensive legal battle, the dispute can be presented to an arbitrator, a neutral third party, for resolution.

In SAD 46 Dexter Arbitrator Michael Ryan provided that service in determining that the Board of Directors failed to properly place a grievant on the pay scale after she returned to work from layoff.

The grievant had been laid off from a secretarial position that also performed Ed Tech II duties for more than half of the time. When she was recalled to an Ed Tech II position, she retained her original seniority date and sick leave, but did not retain her wage scale position as required by contract.

“When an employee is laid off through no fault of her own, it is perfectly reasonable that she should maintain her wage scale position upon recall,” maintained MEA UniServ Director C. J. Betit. On behalf of SAD 46 EA, Betit argued that upon reemployment the grievant was entitled to credit for her prior service and a higher placement on the salary scale.

Ryan noted that both parties had sensible positions, but “the arbitrator’s task it to interpret the language as negotiated and written.” He concluded the contract “does not carve out ‘wage scale position’ for any special treatment that would differentiate it from seniority and benefits. The reemployed employee is entitled to ‘retain’ all of these, without condition of limitation.”

Accordingly, Ryan found that the SAD 46 Board violated the contract and ordered the grievant placed upon step 5 of the wage scale with restoration of all lost wages.

MEA Benefits Trust

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