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January 17, 2019
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Updated On: Mar 09, 2016

Your Kapili Newsletter is now available to you on your Union's website. On the tab at the top left hand side, theres' a tab to the right hand of the Video Gallery tab that reads KAPILI NEWSLETTER. Click on that tab and you can view your entire newsletter. Here is a column from your Kapili Newsletter.

YOU & YOUR RIGHTS: Employers Can't Deny Your Contract Rights
By Vernon Yu, General Counsel to Local 996

The Hawaii Teamsters recently arbitrated a grievance involving a husband and wife who both work for the same

company.The employer of both spouses is a medical provider that operates in Hawaii and is owned by a parent company which goes by another name.

Under Section 18.7 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement with this employer: “Employer shall pay an eligible employee one hundred dollars ($100) per month if the employee voluntarily waives medical coverage offered by the Employer and is covered by another medical plan.” Since both spouses were covered by one spouse’s family plan, the other spouse waived medical coverage and requested the $100 per month payment under Sec- tion 18.7.

The Employer denied the request, stating that the purpose of Section 18.7 was to provide the $100 per month pay- ment as an added benefit only if the em- ployee is covered by another medical plan outside of the Employer.The Union filed a grievance because the language of Section 18.7 does not require that an employee be covered by a plan other than one provided by the same Employer.

In Hawaii, in order to waive medical insurance coverage, an employee must file a Department of Labor Form HC-5, and an employee cannot waive coverage without first having coverage from another medical plan.The Grievant involved satisfied both of these criteria.

After holding a hearing in this case, the Arbitrator, Judge Patrick Yim (Ret.), issued his decision on October 15, 2015. Judge Yim found that the term “another medical plan” as stated in Section 18.7 is ambiguous. He then examined the bargain- ing history of the term in order to inter-

pret its meaning. However, he held that, “There is nothing else in the history of the negotiations that provides any back- ground or explanation as to the meaning of the term ‘another medical plan.’” And, “the disputed language is capable of being interpreted either way.”

Under rules governing the interpreta- tion of a contract’s meaning, an ambigu- ity in the language is normally resolved against the drafter of the language.The Employer drafted the language contained in Section 18.7.Therefore, Judge Yim ruled that the ambiguity shall be resolved against the Employer who proposed and drafted the disputed language, and in favor of the Union’s interpretation.

Judge Yim ordered the Employer to pay all qualified employees who were denied the $100 per month benefit after filing the form HC-5 in accordance with Section 18.7 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

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