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POVEY v. MIDVALE CO. (05/27/54)

May 27, 1954



Miles W. Kirkpatrick, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Edward Davis, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Before Hirt, Acting P. J., and Ross, Gunther, Wright, Woodside and Ervin, JJ.

Author: Hirt

[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 396]

HIRT, Judge.

Plaintiff had been in the employ of the defendant company, a manufacturer of steel products, for many years. He was classified as a Molder-Coremaker and was paid at the rates applicable to that classification, as fixed from time to time by a series of collective bargaining agreements entered into by the defendant with Federal Labor Union Number 18887. Some time prior to February 22, 1951, plaintiff was advised that throughout the period of his employment he had been doing the work of a Leading Molder-Coremaker*fn1 and was entitled to wages at the higher rates established by the collective bargaining agreement for workmen in that classification. Accordingly he then demanded

[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 397]

    that the defendant pay him the difference between the total wages actually received by him and the total wages computed at the higher rates of a Leading Molder for the period, not barred by the Statute of Limitations, or six years immediately preceding the above date of demand. The defendant disclaimed liability whereupon plaintiff ultimately brought an action in assumpsit to recover the additional sums which he alleged were due him for that period. When its preliminary objections to the plaintiff's complaint were dismissed, the defendant petitioned the lower court to stay the assumpsit action pending arbitration of the disputed claim in accordance with the terms of the written collective bargaining agreements entered into with defendant by the above union on behalf of plaintiff and other employes of defendant.

The defendant's plant was a union shop and the above Federal Labor Union, a local affiliate of the American Federation of Labor, was 'the sole bargaining agent for all hourly production and maintenance employees of the company * * *' Throughout the period of plaintiff's employment a series of collective bargaining agreements fixed the hourly rates of pay applicable to the various classes of production and maintenance employes. The agreements by their avowed terms were designed 'to promote and maintain harmonious industrial and economic relationships between the Company and its employees * * *' and they comprehensively defined the reciprocal rights and duties of the employer and the employes for whom the union acted in all phases of their relationships.

Claimant, throughout the period, was a member of the above union. Here, just as in unemployment compensation cases, union members are bound by the action of the union as their agent in negotiating collective

[ 175 Pa. Super. Page 398]

    bargaining agreements with their employer. Curcio Unemployment Compensation Case, 165 Pa. Super., 385, 391, 68 A.2d 393; Byerly Unemployment Compensation Case, 171 Pa. Super. 303, 311, 90 A.2d 322. As an incident of membership in a union an employe designates his union as his representative to act for him as his agent in collective bargaining with the employer and in all matters pertaining to his employment. Prentice Unemployment Compensation Case, 161 Pa. Super. 630, 637, 56 A.2d 295; In re Burns Unemployment Compensation Case, 164 Pa. Super. 470, 65 A.2d 445; Lavely Unemployment Comp. Case, 166 Pa. Super. 481, 485, 72 A.2d 300.

Plaintiff's disputed claim for additional compensation as wages raised a question 'relating to individual rates of pay' and, contrary to plaintiff's contention, constituted a 'grievance' within the definition of Article XV of the collective bargaining agreement. That Article prescribes the procedure to be followed, in designated steps, looking toward the adjustment of all grievances arising under the terms of the agreement. And Article XVI provides: 'In the event that the procedure as set forth in Article XV shall have been followed in respect to any grievance and such grievance shall not thereby have been satisfactorily settled, and if such grievance relates either to the interpretation, application of or compliance with the provisions of this agreement, then such grievance may be appealed to arbitration by either party as hereinafter provided.' Other sections of the same article set up the procedure for an 'appeal to ...

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