City of Shelton and UE, Local 222, CILU, Local 29
A union representative who presents a grievance form to the mayor, to appeal a Step 1 decision, may comply with arbitration requirements, even if the union does not check off the appeal box or sign the grievance. On Oct. 31, 2011, Dan Fraraccio filed a grievance about snow emergencies. On November 1, Fraraccio's supervisor denied the grievance. On November 2, the union timely appealed the Step 1 decision, and presented the grievance form to the mayor's office, except that the union did not check off the appeal box or sign the grievance. The city argued that the matter was not arbitrable, because the union failed to adequately explain the subject matter of the grievance and failed to timely appeal the Step 1 decision. The union objected that the grievance was sufficiently clear and that returning the grievance form to the mayor was sufficient to appeal the Step 1 decision. The U.S. Supreme Court found that under the Steelworker Trilogy doctrine, "Doubts over arbitrability should be resolved in the affirmativearbitration should be compelled unless it may be said with `positive assurance' that the arbitration clause is not susceptible to an interpretation that covers the dispute." Arbitrators considered the Steelworker Trilogy doctrine and found that the union was not required to check off the appeal box, to appeal the Step 1 decision. The union representative timely presented the grievance form to the mayor, to appeal the Step 1 decision. "Past practice," wrote the arbitrators, "establishes that a check box . . . was not required." Arbitrators concluded that the grievance was arbitrable. Mark Sommaruga represented the city, and M. Omar el-Malah represented the union.