'In the event any grievance, dispute or difference originates in which the Company regards itself as the aggrieved party, the Company shall take up such matter within thirty (30) days from the occurrence on which such grievance is based, with the Local President in the Division in which such grievance originates. Failing a satisfactory disposition of such grievance within five (5) days from the date of such submission, the matter may be taken up by the duly designated Company representative within the next ensuing ten (10) days with the chairman of the Penn Executive Council of Amalgamated Divisions.
'In the Event no satisfactory adjustment is reached within ten (10) days after such submission, the issue may be submitted for determination to arbitration in the manner hereinabove provided for not later than thirty (30) days thereafter.'
It is clear from the complaint and is agreed between the parties that the matter which forms the basis of this action was not submitted under this provision of the contract. Counsel for the plaintiff contend that the motion for stay of the proceeding pending arbitration may not be granted for the reason that the United States Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. 1, is not applicable to this contract for the reason that Section 1 of the Arbitration Act excludes contracts of employment involving interstate commerce. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has rejected this contention: Watkins v. Hudson Coal Co., 3 Cir., 1945, 151 F.2d 311; Donahue v. Susquehanna Collieries Co., 3 Cir., 1943, 138 F.2d 3, 149 A.L.R. 271. This Court in an opinion filed August 1, 1951, Jones v. Mississippi Valley Barge Line Co., 98 F.Supp. 787, has followed the above authorities.
Even though we should accept the contention of the plaintiff that the exclusions in Section 1 of the Arbitration Act are applicable to Section 3 of the Act, we believe that it is extremely doubtful that this contract is within the class contemplated. Section 1 of the Arbitration Act provides 'nothing herein contained shall apply to contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce'. In the case of United Office & Professional Workers of America (C.I.O.) v. Monumental Life Insurance Co., D.C., 88 F.Supp. 602 at page 606, decided February 9, 1950 by Judge McGranery of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the court held that a collective labor contract is not a contract of employment within the meaning of the Act. The conclusion of the court in the Monumental Life Ins. Co. case, supra, is supported by the dictum of the Supreme Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Jackson, in the case of J.I. Case Co. v. N.L.R.B., 1944, 321 U.S. 332, 64 S. Ct. 576, 88 L. Ed. 762.
The plaintiff further contends that the matter involved in this action is not referable to arbitration for the reason that the grievance and arbitration procedure in the contract was intended to prevent strikes and lockouts and was not intended to be resorted to after a strike had occurred. The provisions of the contract in this respect are very broad. Section 2 of Article I of the contract includes 'all differences, disputes and grievances, other than discipline and discharge cases, hereinafter provided for, between the parties arising out of or by virtue of the within collective labor agreement'. We believe this language is clear and unambiguous and does not admit of any explanation or limitation by parole evidence or otherwise. Gianni v. R. Russel & Co., 1924, 281 Pa. 320, 126 A. 791. On the contrary, it seems clear to us that if the employer has occasion to resort to the grievance and arbitration machinery of the contract, it would very likely be in connection with a strike. We, therefore, hold that the case raises an 'issue referable to arbitration under an agreement in writing for such arbitration' within the terms of Section 3 of the United States Arbitration Act.
Plaintiff further contends that assuming the dispute is referable to arbitration, the Court should not stay the taking of the depositions since only the stay of the trial of the case rather than the preliminary steps is contemplated. Section 3 of the United States Arbitration Act empowers the Court on being satisfied that the issue involved 'in such suit or proceeding is referable to arbitration' to 'stay the trial of the action until such arbitration has been had'. No case cited under this section has drawn the distinction which Plaintiff seeks to draw between the trial of the case and the proceedings antecedent thereto. It would obviously be wasteful and unnecessary to permit preliminary proceedings during the course of an arbitration when the determination of the matter involved would most likely result from the arbitration. We do not believe that Congress intended any such limitation upon the power of the Court. For the purpose of this section 'the trial of the action' was intended to include preliminary matters such as depositions as well as the actual trial in the Court room.
We conclude, therefore, that the defendants are entitled to a stay of the proceedings until the arbitration is had.
Defendants also move the Court to dismiss the action because as they allege the complaint discloses on its face that the occurrence which forms the basis of the dispute occurred on May 19, 1951, and that therefore it is now too late, more than thirty days having elapsed, to resort to the grievance and arbitration provisions in the absence of some reason for failing to institute arbitration within the period provided in the contract. It is clear that the plaintiff did not resort to arbitration under the contract for the reason that as vigorously contended before the Court, it was advised that the matter was not referable to arbitration. This in itself, in our opinion, would constitute sufficient reason for the delay. Moreover, the defendants cannot on the one hand argue that the matter here involved is referable to arbitration and, on the other hand, that it is not referable to arbitration. The other reasons advanced by the defendants for dismissal of the action are without merit at this time.
We shall, therefore, grant the motion of the defendants to stay all proceedings pending the arbitration and deny the motion of the defendants to dismiss the complaint.
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