Employment Relations Board Orders TriMet to Arbitrate

Employer TriMet is the mass transit district for the greater metropolitan area around Portland. ATU Local 757, the Union that represents Employer’s mass transit operators, brought two grievances: (1) A grievance seeking to enforce a contract provision that would allow a terminated manager to return to a union position; and (2) A grievance seeking to challenge the assignment of bargaining unit work to local non-profits under a federal grant program administered by Employer, as a violation of a contract provision that required “lines of the District” to be staffed by Union members. The Employer contended that neither issue was arbitrable because the manager was not a bargaining unit member, and because the contract could not supersede the grant process used by TriMet to allocate federal funds for transit services. However, the Employer refused to submit either issue to an arbitrator.

The Administrative Law Judge for the Oregon Employment Relations Board held that both issues satisfied the standards for arbitrability. The Judge determined that in both cases, the Union was relying on contract language as the basis for its grievance, and that both grievances are not subject to the arbitration provisions of the collective bargaining agreement. The ALJ ordered the Employer to cease and desist from violating the grievance arbitration provisions of the collective bargaining provision, and to process both grievances. The Employer objected to the order, and the Employment Relations Board affirmed.