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USW v. BLAW-KNOX FOUNDRY & MILL MACH.

November 18, 1970

United Steelworkers of America et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Blaw-Knox Foundry & Mill Machinery, Inc., Defendants Respondent


Gourley, S.D.J.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOURLEY

In this action under Section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, plaintiffs, the United Steelworkers of America and Local No. 1305 thereof, seek an injunction restraining defendant, Blaw-Knox Foundry & Mill Machinery Incorporated, from reducing the number of employees manning the open hearth furnaces at defendant's Union Steel Works pending arbitration of the right of defendant to effectuate this reduction of manpower under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement in effect between the parties. The Court conducted evidentiary hearings on the 21st and 26th of October 1970. Upon review of the applicable agreements between the parties, the evidence adduced at the hearing, and the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law submitted by the parties, the Court concludes that a preliminary injunction should issue pending arbitration.

 Plaintiffs are unincorporated labor organizations. United Steelworkers of America is the bargaining agent for the employees of defendant employed at defendant's Union Steel Works, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Local Union No. 1305 is a duly chartered local union of United Steelworkers of America and also represents employees employed by defendant at its Union Steel Works.

 Defendant Blaw-Knox Foundry & Mill Machinery Incorporated is a corporation which does business in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and is engaged in the manufacture and fabrication of steel and allied products. The company has a place of business known as the Union Steel Works located at 62nd and Butler Streets, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and it employs persons who are members of and represented by plaintiff-unions herein. Defendant is engaged in an industry affecting commerce as defined in the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 141 et seq.

 There is currently in effect between plaintiffs and defendant a Collective Bargaining Agreement executed on October 7, 1968 and effective until October 6, 1971. Section 6 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement is a broad settlement of grievances provision *fn1" in which the parties have agreed to submit to the grievance procedure and ultimately to arbitration, if the matter is not resolved at a stage in the grievance procedure, all differences "as to the meaning and application of or compliance with the provisions" of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and "any grievance or dispute" between the parties.

 Two other provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement are pertinent here. Section 2 provides for the continued effectiveness of previously executed local agreements. Section 2 reads in pertinent part:

 
"Local Working Conditions
 
Except as they conflict with the terms of this Agreement, all understandings with the Union or practices established by negotiations with local union officers and all practices or customs relating to wages, hours or working conditions, which are presently in effect, shall continue in effect for the life of this Agreement, unless the Company and the Union agree as to the discontinuance or modification of such local understanding, practice or custom. All local agreements shall be in writing."

 Section 13 is directed to questions of safety and health. It provides in part, "the Company shall continue to make reasonable provision, including adequate medical and first aid services for the safety and health of its employees at the plant during the hours of their employment." Section 13 also renders grievances concerning safety and health subject to arbitration, and provides that grievances concerning safety and health are to be brought at Step 2 of the grievance procedure.

 On March 2, 1964, plaintiffs and defendant entered into a Local Agreement, Exhibit B to the Complaint, providing for the manning of open hearth furnaces with a crew of twenty-two employees on a twenty-four hour basis. The Local Agreement also specified, "upon review, the agreement may be terminated, for cause by either side giving ninety (90) days written notice." In March of 1970, defendant commenced discussions with plaintiffs as to whether or not the Local Agreement should be modified so as to permit a reduction of the number of employees manning the open hearth furnaces. Under the Local Agreement, defendant employed seven men on each of the three turns, with an extra man callable for work upon any of the three turns. On August 26, 1970, plaintiffs and defendant agreed to conduct a one-week trial period in which six employees would be employed on each of the first two turns and five employees would be employed on the third turn. Another one-week trial period ensued on September 2, 1970, wherein defendant employed seven men on each of the first two turns and four men on the third turn. Plaintiffs concluded that the reduction in manpower was not feasible and indicated their opposition to defendant.

 Defendant then indicated to plaintiffs that it was unilaterally terminating the Local Agreement of March 2, 1964 and intended to introduce a new manning schedule on September 21, 1970, whereby eighteen employees would man the open hearth furnaces within a twenty-four hour period, with seven men employed on each of the first two turns, four men employed on the third turn, and no extra man being provided. Counsel for the plaintiffs responded with a telegram dated September 18, 1970, requesting that the defendant delay the proposed change in the manning schedule until the parties would have an opportunity to utilize the grievance and arbitration procedures in order to determine whether the action of the defendant was permissible under the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Local Agreement. The defendant refused to honor this request and effectuated the reduced manning schedule on September 21, 1970 as planned.

 On September 22 and September 23, 1970, all of the fourteen employees designated to work the first and second shifts in the Open Hearth Department were absent from work. They stated variously as excuses for their absences illness, personal business, and auto trouble, etc. The four employees scheduled to work the third turn on the aforesaid days did report for work. Since September 23, 1970, there has been no further interruption of work of this nature.

 On September 29, 1970, plaintiffs filed two related grievances with the defendant, defendant's Exhibits 1 and 2. In the first grievance, plaintiffs contend that defendant has violated the Local Agreement of March 2, 1964 by unilaterally reducing the open hearth crew from twenty-two employees to eighteen employees. In the second grievance, plaintiffs assert that the aforesaid reduction of employees has created an unsafe condition in the Open Hearth Department on charging turns. Both grievances have been processed through the third step of the grievance procedure provided in Section 6 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Remaining is the fourth step, which is arbitration. Plaintiffs have provided defendant with the names of four proposed arbitrators, and defendant has agreed to the selection of one of them for a determination of the grievances.

 In this suit, plaintiffs request the Court to enjoin the defendant from effectuating the reduced manning schedule until a decision is rendered by the arbitrator as to whether the unilateral reduction would violate the Local Agreement between the parties and/or would create a safety hazard to the employees manning the open hearth furnaces. It is concluded that both ...


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