City of Bridgeport and AFSCME, Council 15, Local 1159
A dispute about the proper interpretation of a city charter, and the city's decision to hold a position open, can be the subject of arbitration. In October 2008, a deputy chief of police became the acting chief of police for the City of Bridgeport. The union filed a grievance and claimed that the city failed to fill the deputy chief of police's vacant position. The city objected that the deputy chief did not vacate his position as deputy chief until he received a permanent appointment as chief of police. The city also argued that a civil service appointment does not constitute an appropriate subject of bargaining, and that Connecticut General Statutes §7-474(g) barred the grievance. The statute provides in part, "The conduct and the grading of merit examinations, the rating of candidates and the establishment of lists from such examinations and the initial appointments from such lists . . . shall not be subject to collective bargaining." The union objected that the subject dispute concerns the interpretation of the city charter and that C.G.S. §7-474(g) only bars collective bargaining over the promotion process. The charter provides, "When a position . . . shall become vacant . . . the appointing authority within thirty days of the date said vacancy was created, shall serve notice--declaring whether or not it desires to fill the vacancy." Arbitrators voted, 2-1, that the dispute was arbitrable. "[T]his grievance is arbitrable," wrote the majority of arbitrators, "as the Union seeks determination of the dispute pursuant to the Civil Service's provisions of the Charter and Section 7-474(g) is inapplicable." Michel Bayonne represented the employer, and Craig Manemeit represented the union.