CERTIORARI TO THE INTERMEDIATE COURT OF APPEALS (CAAP-12-0000295; S.P. No. 11-1-0411).
Rebecca L. Covert (Herbert R. Takahashi and Davina W. Lam with her on the briefs) for petitioner.
Richard H. Thomason (James E. Halvorson with him on the briefs) for respondent.
NAKAYAMA, MCKENNA, AND POLLACK, JJ., WITH RECKTENWALD, C.J., CONCURRING SEPARATELY, AND ACOBA, J., CONCURRING SEPARATELY.
This case concerns a dispute over whether agreements between the Petitioner/Union-Appellant Hawai'i State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the Respondent/Employer-Appellee University Laboratory School (ULS) mandate arbitration of a grievance filed by the HSTA against the ULS. The HSTA's grievance alleged that the ULS refused to implement a step placement chart for a salary schedule agreed to in a supplemental agreement negotiated by the HSTA and the School Board. The ULS responded that the step placement chart the HSTA sought to enforce had never been agreed upon or incorporated into the agreement.
The HSTA filed, as a special proceeding in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (circuit court), a motion to compel arbitration of its grievance. The circuit court denied the HSTA's motion to compel arbitration and the HSTA appealed to the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA). The ICA concluded that the Hawai'i Labor Relations Board (HLRB) had primary jurisdiction over the issues raised in the HSTA's grievance and that the HSTA's motion to compel arbitration was premature. We hold that because the parties agreed to leave questions of arbitrability to the arbitrator, our case law mandated that the circuit court grant the HSTA's motion to compel arbitration after concluding that an arbitration agreement existed.
On June 30, 2009, the ULS was transferred from the University of Hawai'i College of Education at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa to the local school board as a public charter school. At that time, the ULS and the HSTA entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that memorialized the collective bargaining agreement (Master Agreement) already in effect between the HSTA and the State of Hawai'i Board of Education. The parties agreed that the HSTA was thereafter the employees' bargaining representative and the ULS was the employer. The MOA also stipulated that the parties were subject to future supplemental agreements.
On June 21, 2010, the HSTA and the ULS signed a supplemental agreement (Supplemental Agreement) governing the salaries of the ULS's unit 5 employees. Appendix XIV of the Supplemental Agreement provided:
[A]n employee's appropriate salary placement designation (class and step) is made onto the unit 5 master agreement salary schedule. For step placement, parties shall use the attached chart (Exhibit 1) indicating negotiated step increments for unit 5 members.
(Emphasis added). To calculate a unit 5 teacher's salary, the salary schedule and the step placement chart from Exhibit 1 were required. However, no document entitled Exhibit 1 was attached to the Supplemental Agreement.
On October 29, 2010, during an ongoing inquiry into the proper step placement of certain ULS employees, the HSTA informed the ULS via email that "it was brought to [the HSTA's] attention that [it] had inadvertently omitted
'Exhibit 1' for Appendix XIV." The HSTA attached a document to its email that was purportedly the "inadvertently omitted" Exhibit 1 and it instructed the ULS that this document "should be included as part [of] the [S]upplemental [A]greement."
On November 9, 2010, the ULS denied having agreed to the terms of the purported "Exhibit 1, " stating that, although it recalled the chart in the document, "[a]t no time during the negotiations did [ULS] assume that [it] would be following that [chart] in setting [teachers'] salaries." The ULS had assumed that a different chart used during subsequent negotiations was the "missing Exhibit 1" and it had used that other chart when calculating teachers' salaries.
On April 13, 2011, pursuant to Article V of the Supplemental Agreement, the HSTA filed a grievance alleging that Appendix XIV and Exhibit 1 were bargained for in good faith and that the ULS "refused to implement the proper salary placement for teachers, thereby, repudiating Appendix XIV of the supplemental agreement." Then, on April 21, 2011, the HSTA notified the ULS that it wished to proceed to arbitration.
The ULS contested HSTA's request for arbitration and responded by filing a prohibited practice complaint with the HLRB on April 28, 2011. In its complaint, the ULS alleged that the HSTA refused to bargain in good faith and to comply with the terms of the Supplemental Agreement, in violation of Hawai'i Revised Statutes (HRS) §§ 89-13(b)(1), (2), (4), and (5) (Supp. 2010) . Furthermore, the ULS alleged that the HSTA violated HRS § 89-10.8 (a) (1) (Supp. 2010) by attempting to use the grievance process to alter the Supplemental Agreement.
Before the HLRB, the HSTA filed a motion on May 12, 2011 to dismiss the ULS's complaint and the ULS filed a motion on July 13, 2011 to stay all arbitration proceedings. At a hearing on August 12, 2011, the HLRB denied the motion to dismiss the ...