The opinion of the court was delivered by: LORD
Plaintiff Union seeks to compel the defendant Company to proceed to arbitration under a collective bargaining agreement. The plaintiff Union is the United Saw, File and Steel Products Workers of America, Federal Labor Union No. 22254, AFL-CIO, an unincorporated association located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Joseph Adair, President and trustee ad litem. The defendant Company is H. K. Porter Company, Disston Division, a corporation organized and chartered under the laws of the state of Delaware, having an office and doing business at its Tacony plant in Philadelphia.
Plaintiff asks the Court to order defendant to submit two sets or groups of disputes (which plaintiff -- despite defendant's vigorous denials -- insists are grievances) to arbitration procedure.
Defendant says that summary judgment is inappropriate, since there are genuine issues as to material facts. Plaintiff says that such submission to arbitration will be entirely in accord with the grievance procedure outlined in Sections III and IV of the collective bargaining agreement in existence between these parties. Defendant argues that these disputes are not arbitrable under the contract. Furthermore, defendant says that arbitrability is a matter for the Court; and that the Court will need detailed consideration of the contractual limitations upon arbitration. Thus the question is not one to be decided summarily, it says.
Certain matters and circumstances appear uncontradicted from the pleadings, and form a basis for the Court's consideration of this motion.
(1) Jurisdiction is conferred on this Court by § 301, Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, 29 U.S.C.A. § 185.
(2) Plaintiff Union is the collective bargaining representative of all employees of the defendant at its disston Division, Tacony plant, Philadelphia 35, Pennsylvania, except certain classes of employees specifically excluded by the parties' collective bargaining agreement and not here involved.
(3) The defendant Company is engaged in an industry affecting commerce within the meaning of § 2(7) of the National Labor Relations Act, 61 Stat. 136, 29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.
(4) The plaintiff and defendant are parties to a collective bargaining Agreement dated September 15, 1957 and extended by a Supplemental Agreement dated September 15, 1958.
(5) In February of 1959, the defendant announced that it intended to move a large part of its production facilities from its Tacony plant to a plant in Danville, Virginia.
(6) Subsequent to the Company's announcement of its intent to move its plant, the Union and the Company had discussions of severance pay for employees affected and the pension rights of employees who would be laid off as a result of the move. No agreement was reached on these subjects.
At about this juncture, the pleaders part company. The Union, as indicated, characterizes the subject of the discussions as grievances, and the discussions as 'grievance meetings' -- characterizations which are vigorously disclaimed by the Company.
Technically, it is true that since the present motion is directed solely to the pleadings, the Union admits the truth of the Company's well-pleaded allegations in its Answer. See 6 Moore's Fed.Pract. 2058, 2064 (2d ed. 1953). As will be made more apparent later, however, the present case is not deemed to be one for technical treatment. The chief differences between the parties, in any event, seem to be as to the legal effect of the subsequent transactions.
On July 30, 1959 the Union wrote the Company asking that the grievances relating to the described subjects be referred to the impartial chairman designated in §§ III and IV of the collective bargaining agreement. Disclaiming the designation of 'grievances' the Company admits receiving the letter but says, however, that the Union letter
'* * * does not suggest any relationship between the issue of severance pay and the collective bargaining agreement. It speaks of the failure of the parties to reach some understanding regarding what the Company was going to do to assist the employees affected by the Danville Move. The Union, in its July 30, 1959 letter, also speaks with complete vagueness about a difference between the Company and the Union with respect to Section XX of the Agreement (Pensions) as it related to employees affected by the Company's move to Danville * * *'