Contract provisions agreed upon in the course of collective negotiations pursuant to the Taylor Law cannot not override a statutory mandate

Contract provisions agreed upon in the course of collective negotiations pursuant to the Taylor Law cannot not override a statutory mandateMatter of City of Long Beach v Civil Serv. Empls. Assn., Inc. [Long Beach Unit], 8 NY3d 465 Article V, Section 6 of New York State's Constitution mandates that appointments and promotions in the civil service of the State and its political subdivisions "shall be made according to merit and fitness to be ascertained, as far as practicable, by examination which, as far as practicable, shall be competitive."* Although the Civil Service Law permits provisional appointments to positions in the competitive class, such appointments may be made only when there is no eligible list available for filling a vacancy in a competitive class, and then only for a maximum period of nine months (see Civil Service Law Section 65 [1], [2]). Further, once a provisional employee has been in a position for one month, a civil service examination for the position must be scheduled and the provisional appointment to the position must end within two months of the date on which an appropriate eligible list is established.** Finally a provisional appointee may be terminated "at any time without charges preferred, a statement of reasons given or a hearing held" so long as such termination is not for an unlawful reason. The relevant collective bargaining agreement [CBA] included the following provision: "Section 6-1.0-Definition of Tenure "Employees with one (1) year of service in the annual employment of the City, regardless of classification, will be deemed tenured employees. This period of tenure is to be computed retroactively and only employees enumerated in Section 2-1.0 of this Agreement shall be deemed non-tenured. "Section 6-1.1-Rights of Tenured Employees "All tenured employees will be protected from separation from employment with the City for any reason other than (a) voluntary withdrawal; (b) dismissal for disciplinary reasons after a hearing pursuant to Section 75 of the Civil Service Law; (c) provisional employees in the competitive class will be protected by tenure with the exception that their employment may be terminated pursuant to Civil Service Law should it be necessary pursuant to Civil Service Law to appoint a qualified candidate from a Civil Service eligible list to their position. In that event, the displaced provisional employee will be transferred by the City to another position in the City for which he/she qualifies, should such a position be open. A position will be deemed open if it was vacated within six (6) months of a tenured provisional employee's displacement by a candidate from an eligible list certified by the Civil Service Commission." In effect, the CBA obviated the provisions of Article V, Section 6 and the provisions of the Civil Service Law adopted to effect "appointment and promotion" in the public service based on merit and fitness and, in effect, gave provisional and temporary employees subject to its provisions almost the same "permanent status" enjoyed by individuals appointed from a open-competitive or promotion eligible list upon their satisfactorily completion of their probationary period. The City brought this action seeking to stay arbitration on public policy grounds. CSEA answered and cross-moved to compel arbitration. The Court of Appeals, noting that it "repeatedly held … that a dispute is not arbitrable when the subject matter of the dispute violates a statute, decisional law or public policy," ruled that here CSEA's grievance "is not arbitrable because granting the relief sought on behalf of the provisional employees under the so called "tenure" provisions of the CBA would violate the Civil Service Law and public policy." Further, noted the court, provisional appointments carry no expectation nor right of tenure. The court, citing Koso v Greene, 260 NY 491, said that provisional employees, while appointed to positions in the competitive class, are "exempt from the civil service requirements for appointment; and similarly, so long as they hold such positions, they are entitled to none of the advantages secured by period of tenure under the [Civil Service Law]." Again quoting from Koso, the Court of Appeals pointed out that "Such appointments 'are mere stop-gaps, exceptions of necessity to the general rules with respect to the filling of such positions' and '[w]hile such appointments may on occasion be succeeded by a permanent appointment, this may only be by virtue of examination and eligibility under the civil service laws, and not by reason of any ripening of the temporary or provisional appointment into a permanent appointment.'" The decision states that "CSEA relies on those portions of the CBA which provide that a provisional appointee is considered a tenured employee after one year of service. The Civil Service Law, however, clearly sets a time limitation on provisional appointments and that period is nine months." Accordingly, the City's agreement providing superior rights to provisional employees holding positions beyond that statutory time period is a nullity. The Court of Appeals conclusion: "the provisions under the CBA are unenforceable as a matter of law" as the terms of the CBA that afford tenure rights to provisional employees after one year of service are contrary to statute and decisional law and therefore any relief pursuant to those terms may not be granted by an arbitrator.*** * The concept of selection based on merit and fitness is also applied in situations where it has been determined that a competitive examination is not "practicable." Section 42.1 of the Civil Service Law mandates that appointment to a classified civil service position [other than to positions in the exempt and labor classes] shall be made only "after such non-competitive examination as is prescribed by the State Civil Service Department or municipal commission having jurisdiction." ** There is a narrowly defined exception to this mandate that is only applicable when termination would "disrupt or impair essential public services." *** Chief Judge Kaye (dissenting in part, in which Judge Ciparick concurred) said that "I agree that, as an arbitrator may not rely on the portion of the CBA that purports to grant tenure to provisional employees after one year of service (section 6.1-0), or on the section that prohibits termination until and unless the City appoints from an eligible list (section 6-1.1 [c]), a stay should be granted with regard to arbitration of section 6.1-0 and the first part of section 6-1.1. I conclude, however, that the second component of the bargained-for section 6-1.1 (c)-that a displaced provisional worker will be transferred into an open position for which he or she is qualified-is arbitrable." NYPPL

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