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Standards for Interpreting Contract Language LS-2 Contract Language Standards
<ul><li>Language is clear and definite </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning determined without looking at other standards </li></ul><...
<ul><li>Contract language: “The company will provide required safety equipment.” </li></ul><ul><li>Company: It means it mu...
<ul><li>Conflict between general and specific language </li></ul><ul><li>Specific language will govern </li></ul><ul><li>P...
<ul><li>Contract Language (general): The company shall continue to make reasonable provisions for the safety and health of...
<ul><li>If one item is mentioned and others are not generally means others were meant to be excluded. </li></ul><ul><li>Ex...
<ul><li>General language follows a list of specific terms </li></ul><ul><li>Interpreted to cover only things of same natur...
<ul><li>Words and phrases interpreted by the context in which they appear </li></ul><ul><li>Where words appear often deter...
<ul><li>A worker was absent the day before a holiday, but worked eight hours on the holiday. If the company argued that th...
<ul><li>The meaning of each sentence and each paragraph must be determined in relation to the contract as a whole </li></u...
<ul><li>The ordinary and popularly accepted meaning and definition of words and phrases will be used unless something spec...
<ul><li>Clear and unambiguous </li></ul><ul><li>Specific wording given greater weight </li></ul><ul><li>To express one wor...
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Interpretationls2

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  • Hello Students, This lesson will examine a few of the more common standards that are used by arbitrators to determine the meaning and application of contract language. A negotiator’s understanding of these standards will serve as key tool in determining if a proposed contract language is sufficient and in keeping with the intent of the desired outcome and thus avoiding contractual disputes after the agreement has been settled. Think of these standards as objective criteria to be used for analyzing proposed contract language. For now we will examine seven of the standards.
  • We’ll begin with the standard, clear and unambiguous. This standard is based on the finding the language is clear and definite. The language means just as it says and can’t be interpreted differently. When the language is determined to be clear and unambiguous it is unnecessary for the arbitrator to look at other standards to make a determination. With this standard, past practice does not override the expressed words of the collective bargaining agreement.
  • The contract states: The company will provide safety equipment. A dispute arises when the company fails to provide safety equipment. The company contends the language simply means it must make safety equipment available for purchase. The union argues the has agreed to pay for the equipment. Who is right? The company or the union. The company is attempting to stretch an interpretation that can’t be stretched. If the company is requiring safety equipment it has agreed to provide such equipment. The company seems to be arguing that the employee must buy the equipment it makes available. The union is right! The language is clear and unambiguous.
  • Whenever there is a conflict between general contact language and specific contract language related to the same issue or matter then the specific contract language will prevail. In this circumstance it presumes the parties examined a particular topic more closely and agreed to more include more detail in the contract concerning the topic. Therefore should a dispute arise the specific language will be given greater weight or consideration over the general language. Next is an example of this standard application.
  • The language in this slide will speak for itself. Here we see general contract language concerning safety and health. The same contract contains more specific language about wearing apparel and equipment. We’ll review this language and then apply an example in the next slide.
  • As you examine contracts you will notice written exclusions. Sometimes the exclusion is explicit and other times it is easily seen. When I say explicit I mean the exclusion is actually contained in the agreement. Implied means that the exclusion is understood. Exclusions simply mean that if one item is mentioned and others are not it generally means the parties intended to make the exclusion when the contract language was agreed upon. For instance a contract reads: Safety glasses, hard hat, and gloves will be provided by the company to those working in yard classifications. The language does not include other safety equipment. The language limits the safety item to a specific three. Now lets ask ourselves it someone in the yard classification entitled to have the company provide safety shoes. (pause 30 seconds) If you answered no then you are correct. The language includes three items that are specifically mentioned. Safety shoes are not one of the items. This exclusion if safety shoes is implied. If the parties intended to include safety shoes, or for that matter other safety apparel, the language would have detailed the items. Of course the parties could negotiate the inclusion in the next round of bargaining but for now it is exclusion.
  • The terms of a contract are typically enumerated in articles and sections. The topics and sections contents are generally related to one another another. The general language will follow a list of specific terms. The terms are interpreted to cover only things of the same nature. Applying this standard, the contract states the following: Seniority shall govern in all cases of layoff, promotion, transfer, and other adjustments of personnel. But elsewhere in another article the contract states: Overtime shall be shared among employees within a given classification. Now lets suppose a senior electrician demanded overtime over a junior electrician, how would it be decided? (Pause 30 seconds) If you answered it would have to decided in accordance with the overtime language you are correct. While seniority governs layoffs, promotion, transfers and personnel adjustments it does not govern overtime. Overtime assignments are also not of the same nature of layoff, promotion and transfer. Overtime applies to hours of employment. In this case overtime is actually shared and is not assigned based on seniority. The language implies that the junior and senior electrician have equality when it comes to overtime distribution. Equality is not the case in the event of a layoff, promotion or transfer. In these circumstances the senior employee has a greater benefit over the junior employee.
  • Words and phrases are interpreted by the context in which they appear. Where the words appear will often determine what was meant in the application of the words or phrases. For example the contract has an article on holidays. Within this article are two relevant sections relating to holiday pay. One of the sections sets criteria for holiday pay if the day is not worked. The other section establishes holiday pay for work that is performed on a holiday. The language for both sections are contained in the slide. I will read the language of each. Now let’s look at an example of it’s application in the next slide.
  • Please ponder the question, toggle back to the last slide to review the language. Now what is your answer. Pause (1 minute) If you answer the company would not be correct you are right. Here we define context as the interrelated conditions that exist when it applies to the holiday pay. As you have seen there were two interrelated sections. One sets conditions for holidays not worked and the other for holidays that are worked. The company has agreed to pay a premium rate for workers that actually work on the holiday. This is separate from eligibility for holiday pay for those that do not work. The worker performing a service on the holiday receives compensation greater than those who do not work. If however the worker had not worked the day before or on the holiday then the worker is not entitled to any compensation for the holiday. While the language of section 1 and 2 are related in context, more specifically holiday pay, the conditions are distinguished within the context. The questions that we have just considered means that section 1 is applicable and section 2 is not. Section 1 prevails in the context of holiday pay. I know you’re getting better at understanding these standards and their value and importance.
  • The meaning of each sentence and each paragraph must be determined in relation to the contract as a whole. Sections or portions of the contract cannot be isolated from the rest of the contract and interpreted without regard to what the rest of the contract says. All parts of the contract have some meaning, or they would not have been included in the contract. A contract should be construed as a whole, giving force and effect to all of its terms and conditions. If one interpretation of disputed language is supported by other parts of the contract, then it should be accepted over an interpretation that is not similarly supported.
  • The ordinary and popularly accepted meaning and definition of words and phrases will be used unless something special was intended. Example: Vacation pay shall be based on average earnings. Question: An employee worked on two types of jobs. The employer based vacation pay on the average earnings of the lower rated job. Is this correct? (pause) If you answer no then you are correct. In this situation ordinary and accepted meaning may be applied to the words and phrase. The vacation pay applies to the individual’s earnings and not the classification’s, higher or lower. The employee works two jobs and therefore will have an average earnings. A job classification does not earn, the employee does.
  • In conclusion we have just examined seven important standards that an arbitrator will use to determine their findings and render their decision. Clear and unambiguous Specific wording given greater weight To express one word is exclude another Enumeration limits general language to the category of enumerated items Words will be judged by their context The agreement will be interpreted as a whole Words will be given normal meaning
  • Transcript of "Interpretationls2"

    1. 1. Standards for Interpreting Contract Language LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    2. 2. <ul><li>Language is clear and definite </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning determined without looking at other standards </li></ul><ul><li>Language means what it says </li></ul><ul><li>Past practice does not override – language speaks for itself </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    3. 3. <ul><li>Contract language: “The company will provide required safety equipment.” </li></ul><ul><li>Company: It means it must make safety equipment available to purchase. </li></ul><ul><li>Union: The company has agreed to pay for the equipment </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    4. 4. <ul><li>Conflict between general and specific language </li></ul><ul><li>Specific language will govern </li></ul><ul><li>Presumes both parties examined the matter more closely </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore specific language given more consideration </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    5. 5. <ul><li>Contract Language (general): The company shall continue to make reasonable provisions for the safety and health of its employees. </li></ul><ul><li>Same Contract (specific): Wearing apparel and other protective equipment necessary to protect employees from injury shall be provided by the company in accordance with practices now prevailing or as such practices may be improved from time to time by the company. </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    6. 6. <ul><li>If one item is mentioned and others are not generally means others were meant to be excluded. </li></ul><ul><li>Example Contract Language: “Safety glasses, hard hat, and gloves will be provided by the company to those working in yard classifications.” </li></ul><ul><li>Is someone in a yard classification entitled to have the company provide safety shoes? </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    7. 7. <ul><li>General language follows a list of specific terms </li></ul><ul><li>Interpreted to cover only things of same nature </li></ul><ul><li>Example Contract: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seniority shall govern in all cases of layoff, promotion, and transfers. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(same contract) Overtime shall be shared among employees within a given classification </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If a senior electrician demanded overtime over a junior electrician, how would it be decided? </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    8. 8. <ul><li>Words and phrases interpreted by the context in which they appear </li></ul><ul><li>Where words appear often determine what was meant </li></ul><ul><li>Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1.Holidays Worked: Holiday pay of eight hours plus time worked at the applicable rate will be paid for holidays worked. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Holidays Not Worked: To be eligible for holiday pay, and employee must work the day before and the day after a holiday. </li></ul></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    9. 9. <ul><li>A worker was absent the day before a holiday, but worked eight hours on the holiday. If the company argued that the worker was not eligible for holiday pay, would it be correct? </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    10. 10. <ul><li>The meaning of each sentence and each paragraph must be determined in relation to the contract as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>Sections or portions of the contract cannot be isolated from the rest of the contract and interpreted without regard to what the rest of the contract says. </li></ul><ul><li>All parts of the contract have some meaning, or they would not have been included in the contract. </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    11. 11. <ul><li>The ordinary and popularly accepted meaning and definition of words and phrases will be used unless something special was intended. </li></ul><ul><li>Contract Example: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Vacation pay shall be based on average earnings.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Question: An employee worked on two types of jobs. The employer based vacation pay on the average earnings of the lower rated job. Is this correct? </li></ul></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
    12. 12. <ul><li>Clear and unambiguous </li></ul><ul><li>Specific wording given greater weight </li></ul><ul><li>To express one word is exclude another </li></ul><ul><li>Enumeration limits general language to the category of enumerated items </li></ul><ul><li>Words will be judged by their context </li></ul><ul><li>The agreement will be interpreted as a whole </li></ul><ul><li>Words will be given normal meaning </li></ul>LS-2 Contract Language Standards
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