On June 10, 2016, the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration (SBMA) announced it would be raising the filing fees for grievance arbitration for the first time in at least 17 years (the last time the regulation was amended). Effective July 1, 2016, the fee for submitting a grievance to the SBMA for arbitration took a huge jump from $25 to $200. (Regs., Conn. State Agencies, §31-91-24) The measure was one of a host of fee increases enacted to implement the revenue enhancement measures set forth the Governor’s FY17 budget.
It will be interesting to see if the increase has a chilling effect on the number of grievances filed by the unions. At the very least, perhaps it will force them to be more selective in the types of matters they choose to advance to arbitration. Of course, the increased fee also has to be paid by the employer and may significantly impact labor costs in the already fragile budgets of municipal employers, still reeling from cuts in State funding to municipalities, and could be used as leverage by unions with large coffers to negotiate favorable resolutions short of arbitration.