Town of East Hartford and CSEA, Local 2001
A municipality's alleged failure to comply with an oral agreement to provide a copy of Step 3 decisions to a union representative can validate the union representative's delay in filing a request for arbitration. The Town of East Hartford suspended Mark Sevitz for five days, and the union filed a grievance. On April 19, 2010, a third-step conference took place. On April 23, the municipality reduced the suspension to three days. The municipality did not provide union representative Charles Fabian a copy of the decision until June 15. Fabian filed a request for arbitration on June 21, and the municipality argued that the request was not filed timely, within 30 days of the municipality's decision. Fabian objected that the past practice was for Steven Bielenda, the director of human resources, to send the municipality's decisions after step 3 conferences directly to Fabian. The municipality objected that Fabian's claims about a past practice or an oral agreement were unsubstantiated. Arbitrators voted, 2-1, that Fabian proved that an oral agreement existed. Because Fabian was responsible to file the request for arbitration following the Step 3 conference, it made sense that he would have requested that the municipality send a copy of the Step 3 decision to him. The majority of arbitrators credited Fabian's testimony and found that the grievance was arbitrable. "The evidence," wrote the majority of arbitrators, "supports a conclusion that an oral agreement existed for the town to provide the third step answer to Fabian and that the town failed to comply until June 15, 2010." Edward O'Donnell represented the employer, and Charles Fabian represented the union.